Building Hurricane-Resistant Homes

As rebuilding efforts commence in the wake of this summer’s storms, construction professionals seek ways to ensure that homes are safer and built to withstand major wind events. There are several techniques that will help to build hurricane resistant homes and keep property and lives safe.

Additional Fasteners

One way to go when building a new roof is to add ring shank nails to the existing structural sheathing base layer. This doubles the strength of attachment. Sticky tape is then used to seal any cracks in the roof decking. On top of the tape-sealed seams, a layer of felt is put down prior to shingling.

Taller Wall Panels

Designs that connect the roof, walls, and floor provide a continuous load path that is better able to resist the high winds associated with hurricanes. Longer wall sheathing panels are the perfect way to achieve this.

According to the APA: “The most effective way to provide lateral and in some cases uplift load continuity is to attach adjacent wood structural panel wall sheathing over common framing.”

Taller OSB sheathing panels save on labor with the installation of hardware and cutting and installing the blocking at horizontal joints. There is also a reduction in the metal hardware required. Ken from West Fraser: “The biggest charm for builders when using Windstorm or TallWall to satisfy shear and uplift in hurricane-prone areas is that they eliminate blocking and intermediate metal connectors and reduce air-infiltration which all add up to substantial cost savings and faster construction.”

Tie Gable End Walls Back to the Structure

Where gable ends meet the wall below is often one of the weak points of a wall structure. Eliminate the gable by opting for a hip roof design. If you want to stick with gables, go for balloon framing. (Standard for Hurricane Resistant Residential Construction, SSTD 10-93 Section 306.4.2).

You can also strengthen the connection between wall and gable with advanced anchoring systems which are relatively inexpensive. Ask your design professional which nailing patterns provide added strength in order to build hurricane resistant homes.

Sill Plates

Increase wall strength by using longer panels, like Windstorm, to extend the structural sheathing all the way from the top plate to the sill plate to create a continuous load path. From the APA: “The connection of the wall sheathing panel to sill plate is extremely important because this is the connection by which the hold down capacity of the sill plate anchor bolting is distributed into the structure above. At this location, the panel can overlap the sill plate by the full 1-1 ½” of the sill plate depth. It is wise to use all of this depth as it permits the use of nail-to-edge distances of up to ¾”, yielding the maximum possible uplift of the nailed joint.”

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