Q: I'm an architect who has also done my fair share of swinging a hammer. Recently, you recommended fastening shear ply with screws. The California Building Code and other U.S. building codes have always had schedules for shear wall nailing (although they do permit other types of fasteners). My structural engineers have always said that the shear value of nails is far better than the shear value of screws. The screws are far more brittle. This has been borne out in my own construction, where screws have snapped off while being driven. Because the person writing is in a high-risk seismic area, you were right to recommend plywood and to fasten it to the bottom plate. But he also needs to have the best fasteners for the job: nails. A: You reference a recent column where a reader asked for clarification about diagonal bracing ("Don't expect miracle from diagonal bracing," Dec. 28, 2011). He lives in a high-risk seismic zone. We explained how the bracing is construct...
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