Case Studies

Metal Shear Walls

Various market forces have prompted a gradual shift in construction of multi-unit residential buildings from traditional wood framed Type V to light-gauge metal stud Type II. The advantages include mold prevention, the possibility of prefabrication for some of the framing, and the ability to build more floors while still meeting fire code requirements. Traditional lateral bracing systems for this type of construction include shear walls with flat steel sheets, steel tension-only flat-strap wall bracing, proprietary hot-rolled diagonally braced panels, conventional steel-braced frames, and shear walls sheathed with a proprietary board that combines gypsum wall board and sheet metal. Each of these systems poses design limitations and construction drawbacks.

In response to this problem, Steve Tipping conceived of a new lateral-bracing system composed of low-profile metal decking used as sheathing, fastened with screws to light-gauge steel wall framing. The decking is manufactured and sold by several vendors as a noncomposite form deck to support concrete slabs. With funding from the Charles Pankow Foundation, the concept was validated by a test program carried out at UC Berkeley under the direction of Steve Tipping and Professor Bozidar Stojadinovic.

The new nonproprietary system will give engineers and contractors the ability to design and construct buildings (multifamily housing in particular) with the same flexibility that wood frame construction has. The corrugated sheet steel would take the place of plywood in providing the lateral bracing. The system also has excellent potential for use with prefabricated (panelized) walls and the modular construction of homes. It is noncombustible (to meet the fire requirements of a Type II construction), light (to easily transport and construct), tough (to withstand shipping and handling), strong (to resist high seismic loads), durable (to allow exposure to the elements during construction), as well as cost effective.