Retrofit Shear Walls & Sheet Metal Blocking

In existing retrofit shear walls it is quite common to find no blocking at horizontal seams.  The most common way of addressing this problem is by removing the plywood, installing the blocking, and rebuilding the shear wall.  This is a very labor intensive and expensive process.

We use   Technical Note N370C

This Technical Note states: “Allowable shear values for blocked structural panel diaphragms are significantly higher than those for unblocked diaphragms.  Where blocked diaphragm values are required, panel edges are typically blocked with 2x lumber framing and fastened in accordance with recognized schedules in order to achiever desired shear values.  There are instances, however, where installation of lumber blocking may not be convenient.  One alternative is to substitute sheet metal strips for lumber blocking at panel joints.  The technique has been evaluated by APA-The engineered Wood Association and is discussed in the Technical Note”

This is also quite useful when stitching plywood together because large pieces of plywood will not fit through the crawl space opening.

Here is an example of a shear wall that does not have blocking on the horizontal seam.  If it had been blocked one would see horizontal rows of nails on each plywood edge where the two pieces of plywood meet.

No blocking Sheet Metal

No Blocking on Shear Wall Seam

Unblocked horizontal seam

Using the information in APA Technical Note N370C we are able to repair shear wall defects like this with sheet metal blocking as shown below at a fraction of the cost of rebuilding the shear wall.  According to the APA 5/16 long 7/16 crown staples are supposed to be used which are no longer available.   A suitable substitute are the readily available 3/8 inch long, 3/8 crown staples made by Senco.

Shear Wall Seam Repair with Sheet Metal

This technique is often quite useful in seismic retrofit work when the retrofit shear walls are larger than the access opening