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StiffWall® shear walls provide both lateral strength and stiffness. Lateral strength is needed to resist horizontal loads due to wind and earthquake forces. Properly designed and constructed shear walls transfer lateral forces to the next structural element in the load path below them, such as other shear walls, floors, or foundations.

Lateral stiffness is needed to prevent the structure from excessive side-sway. When shear walls are of adequate stiffness, they will maintain the lateral deflection or serviceability requirements of the building. In addition, buildings with sufficient lateral stiffness will suffer less nonstructural damage, further avoiding long-term degradation due to veneer cracking and water infiltration.

StiffWall® is designed and manufactured to meet the performance requirements of the project. Each component making up the StiffWall® is selected to meet or exceed both strength and stiffness requirements of the applicable building code. The Steel Network has optimized the design and fabrication of StiffWall® through a series of both component and full scale wall assembly tests, using state of the art technology to measure performance.

StiffWall® is designed to carry loads concentrically from the point of applied loads to the foundation or other termination point.

Planning Shear Walls - Step-By-Step Design Procedure
To develop an efficient shear wall layout several factors need to be considered:

  • Shear walls should be evenly distributed across the floor plan to reduce additional lateral loads resulting from torsional effects on the floor plan,
  • Walls must stack vertically from top floor of structure to anchorage point or foundation,
  • Height to Width aspect ratio guidelines should be observed in order to maximize effectiveness,
  • Shear Walls located in load bearing walls may use floor dead loads with the appropriate load combination to offset uplift forces in the StiffWall,
  • Shear walls may overlap when the available wall space has been depleted.

StiffWall® Design
Two StiffWall® systems are available; StiffWall® SW-R, a stick-built system utilizing high-strength threaded rods in the wall cavity to provide the shear resistance, and StiffWall® SW-S, a stick-build system that utilizes light gage straps on both sides of the wall for shear resistance. StiffWall® provides superior quality with high yield ASTM A653 steel and G-60 hot-dipped galvanized coating for long-term durability. The stiffening effects of sheathing are not considered in StiffWall shear resistance values.

StiffWall® is specified using simple nomenclature indicating only essential design requirements for each shear wall element. The design is ideal for job specific sizes with established load requirements.

StiffWall® Benefits That Add Value
StiffWalls are custom designed per project loading requirements. Simple attachments are made at corners through the innovative Boot system (examples here). Assembly instructions are available for installers here.

  • Templates are not required for hold-downs, eliminating unrealistic field procedures.
  • Flexible height, width and depth allow for maximum applicability.
  • Designed to satisfy maximum story drift requirements per IBC and UBC.
  • Only mill certified high strength steel is used to maximize efficiency.
  • Plywood sheathing with fastener schedules and/or CMU shear walls are eliminated.
  • Inspection is limited to simple connections at corners.
  • Testing offered to verify calculations and exceed industry standards for sizes and loads.
  • Versatile design may be incorporated into steel, concrete and wood construction without additional costly parts.
  • Design flexibility, fast installation and maximum load carrying capacity.
  • Tested for multi-story application and capable of carrying loads present in 10 story buildings.
  • Studs inside the StiffWall® frame are spaced at 16” o.c. and manufactured for bearing and non-bearing wall studs.
  • Wall framing thickness (StiffWall® frame only) may vary from 3.5” to 8” in depth.
  • No welds or controlled inspections associated with welding.
  • Simplified anchoring system offers a practical attachment to foundations, through floors and at roof termination.
  • No reduction in shear wall capacity due to accidental holes or cuts in sheathing.
  • The SW-R (threaded rod system) is in the wall cavity to provide resistance to thermal conductivity and to facilitate smooth finishes.
  • The SW-S (strap system) is on the outside of the wall to facilitate electrical and pipe work in the wall cavity.
  • Pre-punched holes for electrical chase.
  • Allows 3 times the window space of plywood braced structures.
  • Distributed and delivered to the job site through local distribution.