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Discussion Starter #1
I'm framing a wall in place, and am having trouble with some of the tight spaces. i basically don't have enough room to swing a hammer, or fit a gun - how do you nail in a stud with only 4-5 inches room? Can i use screws instead? If so, what size etc.?
 

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I use deck screws for framing interior walls all the time! 3"X#10 work well! Of course use square head screws (Roberson) to get enough torque!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
thanks! And you just screw it the same as you nail - two on one side, one on the other, 60 degree angle in etc.?
 

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You can usually get away with screws in nonbearing walls, but they're not permitted by code for bearing walls. Actually, the code makes no provision for use of screws at all...They don't have the same shear strength that nails do.

A palm nailer is a very handy tool for nailing in tight places.
 

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+1 on the palm nailer.
 

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Yep, palm nailer....
 

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The issue of screws versus nails seems to come up frequently on this forum. The shear strength of a nail or a screw depends on the strength of the metal (usually steel, but could be aluminum, brass, copper, galvanized, or ceramic), and the thickness of the shaft. Some people believe that screws are not as strong in shear as nails, but this is based on a misunderstanding of the properties of screws and nails.

Nail diameter is measured along the shank of the nail. Screw diameter for purposes of computing shear is the root diameter of the screw, i.e. the shank of the screw, and DOES NOT include the threads. So a screw which has a root diameter of 1/8 inch is just as strong in shear as a nail with a shank diameter of 1/8 inch, assuming they are made of the same material.

Screws have greater pullout resistance, because a screw resists pullout by mechanical connection to the wood, whereas a nail resists solely by friction. Depending on the type of connection, your connector may be subject to shear, pullout, or both. In my experience as a structural engineer, screws are as good or better as fasteners than nails, provided they are properly sized and installed. I was not aware that they are PROHIBITED by code, however building codes typically include nailing schedules for connecting framing members, but not screw schedules, so perhaps this could be interpreted to mean that since no schedule is provided, you cannot use screws, unless of course specified by a professional engineer as part of the plan.

That said, a quick review of current literature on attaching framing members will provide you with many examples of connection details using screws. Recent research from Florida discusses attachment of plywood sheathing to roof rafters, and recommends either screws or special ring shank staples (ring shank nails and staples have extra pullout resistance due to the mechanical bond of the rings).

I have specified screws for many structural projects, they work fine, but there are a few things to be careful of. First of all, the two elements to be joined must be correctly aligned before you drive the screw, since screwing will not cinch up pieces (unlike nails). This is often best achieved by clamping the two pieces together, then driving the first screw. Once you get one in, the clamp can typically be removed. If you cannot clamp the pieces, you need to bore an oversized hole through the first piece, then drive the first screw. As long as the hole in the first piece is larger than the thread diameter, but smaller than the head of the screw, the pieces will cinch together. As before, once the pieces are cinched, you can drive the remaining screws.

By the way, Simpson makes a wide range of galvanized steel connectors for framing elements. Although typically installed with special galvanized nails, Simpson has provision for use of screws as well. I don't really know how the IRC applies to use of screws with connectors, but as a professional engineer I spec screw connectors when I feel they are appropriate.
 

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Screwing will cinch up the pieces if you use the proper screws. Drywall screws will not cinch since they are threaded full length. The proper screw for connecting two pieces of wood will have a smooth shank that allows slipping in the one piece for cinching.
 

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By the way, Simpson makes a wide range of galvanized steel connectors for framing elements. Although typically installed with special galvanized nails, Simpson has provision for use of screws as well. I don't really know how the IRC applies to use of screws with connectors, but as a professional engineer I spec screw connectors when I feel they are appropriate.
To my knowledge, Simpson and USP's provisions for screws are limited to the use of their SDS-type screws, which are structural lags and are typically supplied with the hangers and anchors they're used with. They do not permit the use of deck screws (or similar) in joist hangers and lumber connectors.

I agree, there are certainly a lot of structural applications that screws can be specified for. I simply (and correctly) stated that the code doesn't list applications for them in the fastener schedules. That doesn't necessarily mean they're PROHIBITED, it just means the code doesn't recognize them. If someone uses screws in a structural application such as framing or sheeting a wall, they need the engineering documentation to support doing so.
 

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Definitely DON'T use drywall screws. They're very "brittle" (for lack of a better word). I've popped the head off of many using them for a temporary "fix" fastening wood to wood.....
 

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...Simpson has provision for use of screws as well.
Per Simpson's 2008 catalog page 14:

General instructions for the installer, note A:
Screws may not be used to replace nails in connectors unless approved and recommended by the designer/engineer of record. Unless stated otherwise, Simpson Strong Tie cannot and does not make any representations regarding the suitability of use or load-carrying capacities of connectors with screws replacing nails.
 

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Regarding the shear area of a nail vs a screw. Suppose we had a screw with minor diameter (non threaded diameter) equivalent to that of a particular nail. Suppose also the material properties of both fasteners were equivalent. The screw would be weaker in shear (or combined shear / bending) than the nail due to stress concentration at the root of the thread, yes? Some thread-forms would be worse than others in this regard, but none would be equivalent to that of the nail described above (straight nail, not a ring shank). Just a thought.
 

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Yabut! Mike's a Canuck and need not comply with the US codes!

I was under the impression that the OP was framing in his basement and was not installing load bearing walls.

I have always used deck screws for interior framing, and have yet to have any of my construction collapse.
And the beauty of screws being, if a revision is required, you can just back 'em out!
 

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Well written and well put, Thank You Mr. Holzman. Not to doubt you but now I will go "pick the minds" of our local building inspectors to get their rulings in writing. UMmm, something like picking a BB out of a thimble. :), Thanks, David
 

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With regard to Simpson strong ties and the use of screws, Simpson makes several different types of screws specifically for use with their connectors. The Simpson SDS (strong drive screw) is specifically listed by Simpson for use with many of their hangers and connectors. The way their catalog is worded, Simpson specifically recommends use of screws with many of their connectors (see column connectors for example), and specifically allows use of screws (their screws) with most of their other connectors. You simply need to read the specific instructions for the specific connector.

The business about getting an engineer to specify a screw for a connector is only applicable to those circumstances where the particular connector has no provision for use of screws, then a registered engineer can specify a particular screw to be used rather than the normal nails. But as I said, most of the Simpson connectors have specific provision for use of specific Simpson screws. All that said, if you follow their directions, in my experience it is hard to go wrong with Simpson products, I have been very happy with them, and I have never personally encountered a failure where the connector has been installed in accordance with directions. If you leave out half the nails, overdrive the screw, or strip the threads, that is a different story.
 

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But as I said, most of the Simpson connectors have specific provision for use of specific Simpson screws.
That is simply not true. Many of their heavy beam hangers, hold-downs, and column bases do require the use of SDS screws (and many are supplied with those screws).

However...

This is a DIY site for residential remodeling and repair. 95% of the hangers and connectors that are used in such residential applications are not even compatible with SDS screws and are not listed for use with them...Heck, the holes aren't nearly big enough to accomodate SDS screws. As examples I'd say the most common are the LUS/HUS series, HGUS series of heavy beam hangers, their entire line of tension straps (MST, etc), H seismic and hurricane ties, A35 angles, etc.............Just about every house utilizes those and you cannot use screws...Simpson or otherwise...In them.
 
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