You are on page 1of 5

Technical Topics

T T- 1 0 2 B  JUNE 2010

Collector Design for Bracing


in Conventional Construction
When bracing is placed farther from the end of the braced wall line than specified (8 feet in SDC D0, D1 and
D2 – Methods WSP and CS-WSP only – or 12.5 feet for all bracing methods in SDC A, B and C) the limits of the
International Residential Code (IRC) are exceeded. In the 2009 IRC, references to collector design (previously
included in R602.20.11.3 of 2006 IRC) were omitted because they were considered to be redundant with Section
R104.11, which permits approved designed solutions for any situation that falls outside of the scope of the IRC. A
­collector (also known as a “drag strut”) is an engineered element used for such applications.

Note that the collector design, like any alternate proposed in accordance with IRC Section R104.11, must be approved
by the building official. It is recommended to contact your local building official during the design/development
phase of the project.

W H AT I S A COLLECTOR ?

Before defining a collector, it is important to understand the concept of load path. The load path is simply the
sequence of elements by which the loads (gravity, wind or seismic) are carried through a structure. Every structure
has a vertical load path for gravity and uplift loads, as well as a lateral load path for wind or seismic forces.

The collector referenced in the International Building Code (IBC) and IRC is part of the lateral load path. What does
it do? Just as a beam in the vertical load path accumulates or collects vertical loads and carries them over an opening
to supporting members on each side, the collector has a similar function in the lateral load path. It collects the lateral
loads from the roof or floor diaphragm (roof sheathing and floor sheathing, respectively) and distributes them into the
bracing panels that are required by the building codes. A collector is needed to evenly distribute the load among the
bracing panels (or shear walls in an engineered system) in a given wall line that may have window and door openings
in between each bracing panel. Again, like a beam in a vertical load path, an element is needed to collect the lateral
loads distributed into the top of the wall line and distribute it evenly to each provided wall-bracing panel.

OK , I NOW K NOW W H AT A COLLECTOR DOE S


B UT W H AT DOE S IT LOOK LIK E? W H E R E DO I GET ON E?

In the type of structures considered by the codes as “conventional construction” or “prescriptive construction”, the
collector is normally already in place in the form of the wall double top plate or top plate/header combination.

In terms of load path, the roof or floor framing is attached to the top plate, and the top plate is a part of the framing
for the bracing panels. This ensures that the lateral loads (from the floor sheathing/diaphragm) are distributed into
the bracing panels (vertical lateral-load resisting elements). The code-required fastener schedule (Table R602.3(1) and
Table 2304.9.1 of the IRC and IBC, respectively) at the bottom plate of the bracing panel completes the load path to
the foundation or floor below.
1 © 2010 APA – The Engineered Wood Association
COLLECTOR DE S IGN

The good historical performance of traditional framing methods in conventional construction has led to the provi-
sions in the codes that permit the first bracing panel to be placed away from the corner a set distance without requir-
ing the designer or builder to be concerned with the design of the collector. For distances in excess of those permitted
by the code, the material properties of a single 2x4 top plate are generally adequate to distribute the applied load for
traditional residential construction (approximate capacity for a single Spruce-Pine-Fir (SPF) 2x4 “Stud Grade” in ten-
sion is 3230 lbf, based on the relatively short duration of lateral loads such as wind and earthquake). The difficulty
lies in providing sufficient attachment between the upper and lower top plates (or the upper top plate and header
below) to transfer the load at “splice locations” where joints in the double top plate occur (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Splice at top plate required to transfer load across joint in upper top plate to lower plate
and back up into the upper top plate after the splice.

Upper top plate


Entire splice length may be used for fastening

Lower top plate

Side
Side View
View

W H AT I S TH E LE NGTH OF TH E TOP PL ATE TH AT M US T B E S PLIC E D?

Since the purpose of the collector is to “collect” the load from the structure above and transfer it into the bracing
panel away from the corner, the spliced top plate must run from the corner to, and including the bracing panel. For
example, if the edge of the corner-bracing panel nearest the corner is to be relocated 14 feet from the corner, and the
bracing panel is 4-feet wide, the total length of the spliced top plate must be a minimum of 18 feet (14 feet + 4 feet).

The required number of nails for the top-plate splice can be calculated as follows:

N = (W * L)/Z′ [1]

Where: N = Number of nails required at “splice”


W = Maximum load on the diaphragm (lbf/ft)
L = Distance between corner and first bracing panel (ft)
Z′ = Allowable capacity of a single fastener (lbf/fastener)
For conventional construction, W equals the maximum load that can be expected to be transferred into the upper top
plate. This load is the greater of the roof diaphragm capacity or the rim-board-to-top-plate connection capacity:

2 © 2010 APA – The Engineered Wood Association


E X A M PLE :

• Roof-diaphragm-to-top-plate: Based on 3/8" Rated Sheathing (RS), 8d nails at 6" and 12" unblocked diaphragm
(Case 1) – 215 plf.
• Rim-board-to-top-plate: Based on ICC-ES AC 124 for conventional construction – 180 plf.

Use W = 215 plf

Z′ (Based on a 16d box nail joining 2 SPF top plates)


Z = 88 lbf/nail (2005 National Design Specification Table 11N), and 1.6 is the duration of load adjustment for
short term, wind or seismic loads.
Z′ = 88 * 1.6 = 141 lbf/nail,

Given the above, the splice fastener requirement reduces to:


N = (215/141) * L
N = 1.52L Use 1.5L 16d box nails on each side of the butt joint in the upper top plate.

Note: When using Douglas-fir-Larch (DF-L) top plates with 16d box nails, the above calculation becomes:
Z = 103 lbf/nail
Z′ = 103 * 1.6 = 165 lbf/nail

The splice fastener requirement for DF-L top plates becomes:


N = (215/165) * L
N = 1.3L For DF-L top plated use 1.3L 16d box nails on each side of the butt joint in the upper top plate.

The top-plate splice-design parameters can be represented in tabular form as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Top Plate Splice Design Table(a,b)

L (Distance between corner


8(c) 10(c) 12(c) 12.5(c) 14 16 18 20
and first bracing panel, ft)
Load (Maximum load on splice for
1,720 2,150 2,580 2,688 3,010 3,440 3,870 4,300
Conventional Construction, lbf)
12 15 18 19 21 24 27 30
N(d)
(11) (13) (16) (17) (19) (21) (24) (26)
DF-L Stud Grade DF-L #2
2x4 SPF Stud Grade or or
SPF #2 SPF #2
Size, Species, and Grade(e)

2x6 SPF Stud Grade

(a) If 16d common nails are used, the number of nails in the above table may be multiplied by 0.73.
(b) If a single top plate is used, a metal plate tension tie may be used to make the top plate splice. It must be sized in accordance with the
“LOAD” row in the table above.
(c) Not required under the 2009 IRC unless greater than 8 feet in SDC D 0, D1 and D3.
(d) Number of 16d box nails required on each side of support SPF top plate butt joint. Number in parenthesis is used when DF-L top plate is
substituted for SPF.
(e) Higher lumber grade or larger lumber size may be substituted.

3 © 2010 APA – The Engineered Wood Association


DE S IGN E X A M PLE :

A home designer wants to place a bracing panel 14 feet away from a corner. The wall framing is 2x4. Select the ­species,
grade, design, and detail the collector. See Figure 2.

Figure 2. Design example showing first bracing panel 14 ft from corner.

Nail/splice all top-plate joints from corner to beyond first bracing unit
14 ft
Splice

How many nails are


required for both sides
of top-plate splice?
1st Bracing
panel (shown
cut away)
Wall Opening

Elevation

SOLUTION :

For an L of 14', from Table 1 above, the top plate splice made of 2x4 Spruce-Pine-Fir Stud Grade requires 21 (1.5 * L
= 1.5 * 14 = 21) 16d box nails. If common nails are desired, 16 (21 x 0.73 = 15.33) nails are required. Where splice
occurs over a bottom plate, a minimum 4-foot minimum overlap should, for this example, provide enough room for
required fasteners without causing splitting of the plates. Where the splice occurs over a header, the header acts as the
bottom plate. Note that using longer plates (12 – 16 ft) minimizes the number of plate splices required.

4 © 2010 APA – The Engineered Wood Association


The splice is to be detailed as shown below in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Top plate splice detail. Twenty-one 16d box nails shown each side of joint.

4 ft minimum required to prevent splitting

PLAN

21 ea 16d box nails each side of splice

ELEVATION

We have field representatives in many major U.S. cities and in Canada who can help answer questions involving
APA trademarked products. For additional assistance in specifying engineered wood products, contact us:

APA HEADQUARTERS: 7011 So. 19th St. ■ Tacoma, Washington 98466 ■ (253) 565-6600 ■ Fax: (253) 565-7265
Form No. TT-102B
APA PRODUCT SUPPORT HELP DESK: (253) 620-7400 ■ E-mail: help@apawood.org
Revised June 2010

DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein is based on APA – The Engineered Wood Association’s continuing
programs of laboratory testing, product research, and comprehensive field experience. Neither APA nor its members
make any warranty, expressed or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the use, application
of, and/or reference to opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations included in this publication. Consult
your local jurisdiction or design professional to assure compliance with code, construction, and performance
requirements. Because APA has no control over quality of workmanship or the conditions under which engineered
wood products are used, it cannot accept responsibility of product performance or designs as actually constructed.

5 © 2010 APA – The Engineered Wood Association