Bracing for the 'Big One'

Tips to secure structural panels in seismic zones

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.