Holding it All Together: Designing, specifying, and installing connectors

A good rule of thumb when specifying is only selecting clips from manufacturers in good standing of a trade association, as products are certified under an independent third-party inspection program administered by an International Accreditation Service (IAS)-accredited agency per ICC ES AC98, Accreditation Criteria for Inspection Agencies. These standards include requirements governing the materials used to produce the connectors, protection against corrosion, manufacturing tolerances, and marking requirements. Marking requirements are especially important, as they ensure the installer can easily identify and use the proper connection. For the engineer or architect, the markings provide an accurate way to verify in the field whether the proper connector is used.

For engineering responsibility, one should specify shop drawings, design calculations, and other structural data be prepared by a qualified professional engineer registered in the state of the project and experienced in cold-formed metal framing design. Product test reports should be required to be performed or witnessed by a qualified testing agency.

Adhering to the following guidelines and standards helps ensure the technical specifications direct contractors to use clips and connectors that have code-approved technical reviews from such IAS-accredited agencies like ICC-ES, Intertek, and International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), thus avoiding use of unproven field-fabricated clips.

Materials standards
Material standards to follow include:

  • ASTM A653, Standard Specification for Steel Sheet, Zinc-coated (Galvanized), or Zinc-Iron Alloy-coated (Galvannealed) by the Hot-dip Process; and
  • ASTM A1003, Standard Specification for Steel Sheet, Carbon, Metallic- and Nonmetallic-coated for Cold-formed Framing Members.

Product standards
For the benefits laid out in this article, one should strongly consider requiring compliance with SFIA’s Manufacturing Compliance Certification Program 
for Connectors.

Design standards
In addition to the aforementioned AISI S100, another important design standard is AISI S200, North American Standard for Cold-formed Steel Framing–General Provisions.

Installation standards
Installation standards with which to comply include both AISI S200 and another standard, ASTM C1007, Standard Specification for Installation of Loadbearing (Transverse and Axial) Steel Studs and Related Accessories.

Test method standards
For test method standards, contractors should follow ASTM A90, Standard Test Method for Weight [Mass] of Coating on Iron and Steel Articles with Zinc or Zinc-alloy Coating.

With a building project, having the right connectors 
is everything. Everyone first thinks about the quality of the framing members, but many forget no matter how good the framing, there will definitely be problems with the overall structure and weather resistance of the construction if proper attention is not paid to the element holding everything together.

Larry W. Williams, APR, is the executive director of the Steel Framing Industry Association (SFIA), an organization dedicated to expanding the market for cold-formed steel through promotion, advocacy, education, and providing a positive environment for innovation. Williams has more than 35 years of experience in management, marketing, and strategic communications, including 25 years in the steel and construction markets. He has also served as general manager of market development and sustainability for the World Steel Association (Brussels), president of the Steel Framing Alliance, and founder/executive director of the Light Gauge Steel Engineers Association (now Cold-formed Steel Engineers Institute [CFSEI]). He can be reached via e-mail by contacting williams@steelframingassociation.org.


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