Hurricane straps or ties are essential for hurricane-proofing your home in areas subject to tropical storms and tornadoes.
They help keep your roof from blowing off in high winds and prevent your house from collapsing if the walls are damaged. Installing them correctly is essential to keeping your family safe and your home secured in a hurricane.
In this article, we’ll walk you through each step of the installation process in detail so that you can install your own hurricane straps or ties. Read on for everything you need to know about hurricane-proofing your home.
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Understanding Hurricane Straps and Ties
Before moving into the installation process, I want to ensure we are on the same page when it comes to hurricane straps and ties. Although these terms are used interchangeably, they refer to slightly different components that serve slightly different purposes.
Hurricane straps, also referred to as hurricane clips or hurricane bands, are metal connectors used to secure the roof trusses or rafters to the top wall plate. They prevent the roof from lifting and being blown away during high winds by providing a strong connection between the roof structure and the walls.
Hurricane straps are typically installed at the joint where the roof and walls meet.
On the other hand, hurricane ties are metal connectors typically used to secure the roof trusses or rafters to the building’s supporting walls or other structural elements. These ties provide additional lateral support to prevent the roof structure from being separated from the walls by high winds. They also help resist uplift forces on the roof.
The basic operation is that these components create a structural load connection necessary for transferring forces from the top of the building to the foundation. This enhances the structure’s ability to withstand upwind forces that can blow off the roof.
In summary, hurricane ties and straps are essential for strengthening a building’s resistance to wind loads in hurricane-prone areas.
These building components are standard in states that experience constant hurricanes, such as Florida and other coastal communities in the southeastern U.S.
Are You Required to Install Hurricane Ties by the Law?
Florida is among the states that require new buildings to have hurricane ties.
According to Section 553.844, Florida Statutes, these retrofits are required for existing site-built structures to strengthen and make them highly resistant to hurricanes.
However, it’s worth noting that the International Residential Code (IRC R301.1) and the International Building Code (IBC 1604.4) don’t necessarily require hurricane ties on buildings.
Nevertheless, these building codes stipulate that structures must have a complete load path between any force acting upon the structure and the foundation for stability.
Therefore, a rule of thumb, even if you’re not in a hurricane-prone state, is to ensure there is a path through which any load acting upon the house can get to the foundation.
The Main Types of Hurricane Ties
There are various types of hurricane ties, each designed for specific applications and building components. The most common ones on the market are the Simpson Strong-Tie H1 Hurricane Tie 18 Gauge and Simpson Strong-Tie H2.5A 18 Gauge. Let’s discuss each in detail below.
The Simpson Strong-Tie H1 Hurricane Tie 18 Gauge
This is the most common type of hurricane tie used to secure roof trusses and rafters to wall plates. It prevents the roof from lifting off during high winds by cradling the rafter or truss on two sides.
The H1 hurricane tie features multiple nail and screw holes to provide flexibility during installation. Moreover, this creates a strong connection between the trusses/rafters and the wall top plates.
Therefore, It’s ideal for a wide range of applications, from residential homes to commercial buildings, where protection against wind uplift is essential.
Its dimensions include:
- Length: Approximately 5.25 inches (13.34 cm).
- Width: Approximately 5.25 inches (13.34 cm).
- Thickness: 18-gauge steel, which is approximately 0.05 inches (1.27 mm).
The Simpson Strong-Tie H2.5A 18 Gauge Hurricane Tie
Unlike the first option, this hurricane tie works on one side of a rafter or truss for moderate wind protection. These ties offer a continuous load path by which the load can travel from the roof to the wall plates.
H2.5A hurricane ties are made from 18-gauge galvanized or stainless steel to prevent rusting and corrosion and ensure durability.
It also features a unique “twist” design, which adds strength and stability to the connection between the roof structure and the wall/joist. This twist design increases its resistance to uplift forces in case of a severe storm.
How to Install Hurricane Straps and Ties
The process to install hurricane ties and straps consists of nine easy steps, including:
- Gathering the nails, ties, and straps
- Determining the number of ties and straps needed
- Marking the placement of ties and straps on the roof trusses
- Drilling pilot holes for each hurricane strap
- Securing ties or straps to roof trusses with screws
- Sealing all screw heads with sealant
- Installing gable end wall bracing (if necessary)
- Installing roof sheathing
- Installing hurricane clips (if necessary)
Now, let’s consider each of these steps in-depth.
1.) Gather the Nails, Ties, and Straps
Before installing hurricane straps, it’s essential to gather all the materials you’ll need. For a typical installation, you will need the following materials:
- Nails – the most common type of nail used for hurricane ties is the 16d nail. These are 3 1/2 inches (8.89 centimeters) long and have a diameter of 0.162 inch (0.411 centimeters). You’ll also need some 8D nails, which are 2 1/2 inches (6.35 centimeters) long and have a diameter of 0.131 inches (0.333 centimeters).
- Screws – the most common type of screw used for hurricane straps are wood screws. They are available in various lengths, but the most common size used is 2 1/2 inches. You’ll also need some wood glue to secure the screws in place.
- Hurricane clips – hurricane clips are metal plates used to secure the roof sheathing to the trusses.
- Hurricane straps – hurricane straps are long strips of metal or nylon used to secure the trusses to the house’s exterior walls. These are available in various widths, but the 2-inch (5.08 centimeters) strap is the most common size.
- Hurricane ties – hurricane ties are metal or plastic plates that connect joists or trusses to the house’s roof framing. They help resist the uplift forces exerted on the roof during a hurricane.
Go with this Simpson Strong-Tie H2.5A Hurricane Tie. It’s made of galvanized steel for superior strength and durability, making it ideal for hurricane-prone areas.
- Drill bit – you’ll need a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the screws you’re using to create a pilot hole for the screw. A pilot hole is a hole drilled into the wood to make it easier to drive in a screw or nail.
- Sealant – after the hurricane ties and straps are installed, you’ll need to seal the screw heads with a waterproof sealant to prevent rust and corrosion.
The following YouTube video describes hurricane ties and how to install them on a budget:
Note: For every rafter or joist, you’ll need at least two nails, one hurricane tie, and one strap.
2.) Determine the Number of Ties and Straps Needed
Before installing hurricane straps or ties, you must determine the number needed. If you install fewer than required, your roof could blow off in high hurricane winds.
To determine the amount needed, you’ll need to know the following:
- The number of roof-to-wall connections – the amount will determine the number of hurricane straps needed. For example, if you have four roof-to-wall connections, you’ll need four hurricane straps.
- The number of floor-to-floor connection – this figure will add to the number of straps needed. For example, if you have two floors in your house and four roof-to-wall connections, you’ll need four more straps.
- The number of floor-to-foundation connections – similarly, this will add to the number of hurricane straps necessary. So, for example, if you have four such connections, you’ll need four additional straps.
- The number of connections between horizontal and diagonal beams – if you have four such connections, you’ll need at least four hurricane ties.
The following YouTube video may come in handy when determining the number of hurricane straps you need:
3.) Mark the Placement of Ties and Straps on the Roof Trusses
Once you know how many hurricane ties and straps you need, you can mark their placement on the roof trusses. To do this, follow these steps:
- Measure and mark the placement of the hurricane ties on the roof trusses – the most common way to do this is by using a pencil or chalk to indicate the location of each tie on the wood.
- Wrap a string around the trusses at the locations where you install the hurricane straps to help you keep the placement of the straps consistent.
4.) Drill Pilot Holes for Each Tie or Strap
After marking the placement of the ties and straps, you’ll need to drill pilot holes for each one.
To drill a pilot hole, follow these steps:
- Get a drill bit smaller in diameter than the screw you’ll be using to create a pilot hole that is the right size for it to fit snugly.
- Drill the pilot holes at an angle to intersect with the center of the trusses. This measure will make it easier to drive in the screws or nails.
5.) Secure Ties or Straps to Roof Trusses With Screws
After drilling the pilot holes, you can now secure the hurricane straps to the roof trusses with screws. To do this, follow these steps:
- Use a screw that is the appropriate size and type for the job. The most common type of screw used is a hex head screw.
- Drive the screws into the pilot holes until they are snug against the trusses. Don’t over-tighten the screws, as this could strip the threads or break the wood.
6.) Seal All Screw Heads With Sealant
Now that the hurricane straps are installed, it’s time to seal the screw heads with a waterproof sealant. This will help prevent rust and corrosion, and it will also make it easier to remove the screws in the future, should you need to do so.
To seal the screw heads, follow these steps:
- First, apply a bead of sealant around the perimeter of each screw head.
- Use your finger or a putty knife to spread the sealant evenly over the surface of the screw head.
- Allow the sealant to dry completely.
7.) Install Gable End Wall Bracing (if Necessary)
If your house has gable end walls, you’ll need to install bracing to reinforce them. Gable end walls are particularly vulnerable to high winds, so it’s essential to ensure they’re adequately supported.
The most common brace used for gable end walls is plywood sheathing.
To install plywood sheathing, follow these steps:
- Cut the plywood to size using a circular saw.
- Attach the plywood to the gable end wall with nails or screws. Be sure to use nails or screws long enough to penetrate the studs in the wall.
8.) Install Roof Sheathing
After reinforcing the gable end walls, you can now install the roof sheathing. Roof sheathing is a layer of material attached to the roof rafters, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB).
The purpose of roof sheathing is to provide a nailing surface for the shingles and to help to stiffen the roof.
To install roof sheathing, follow these steps:
- Cut the sheathing to size using a circular saw.
- Attach the sheathing to the roof rafters with nails or screws. Be sure to use nails or screws long enough to penetrate the rafters.
9.) Install Hurricane Clips (if Necessary)
In some areas, hurricane clips are required by code. Hurricane clips are metal brackets that attach the roof sheathing to the trusses.
They help to resist uplift forces in high winds and can provide additional protection for your home in a hurricane.
To install hurricane clips, follow these steps:
- Locate the clip placement on the trusses. The building code or plan will specify the clip placement.
- Attach the clips to the trusses with nails or screws. Be sure to use ones long enough to penetrate the trusses.
And that’s it!
You’ve now installed hurricane ties and straps on your roof, and you can rest assured that your home is better protected against high winds.
Caveat: These are just general guidelines to give you an idea of the steps involved in installing hurricane ties and straps. Always consult with a qualified contractor or engineer to ensure that your home is adequately protected against high winds.
In addition, follow all local building codes to ensure your home meets or exceeds minimum requirements.
Installing hurricane ties and straps is a necessary step in protecting your home against high winds. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure your home is adequately protected. Additionally, by taking the time to do it yourself, you can save money on the cost of installation.
Consult with a qualified contractor or licensed engineer for the best results, and follow all local building codes.
By installing hurricane ties and straps properly, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home is better protected against high winds.
I’d recommend having this done (or DIY’ing) before hurricane season starts, perhaps in the winter or spring while no one is thinking about hurricanes.
Be sure to check out our article on how much you can save on your insurance as well (which includes my own story of saving 57% on my homeowner’s insurance. You can check out that article here.