A hurricane (whipping winds and rain) approaches homes and trees along the Florida coast

As hurricane season ramps up, so does the need for proper preparation. One of the most important aspects of being prepared is gathering information regarding your local hurricane strap code. 

A hurricane strap code is a set of requirements that must be met to prepare a structure for hurricanes using physical strip or tie connections to secure the building from wind damage. These codes are typically put in place by state or local governments and usually vary from location to location.

This article will focus on the hurricane strap code requirements in the Southern United States. In the following sections, we’ll go over the specific codes, their requirements, and how they can help you better prepare for the next hurricane season.

What Are Hurricane Straps and Ties?

Hurricane straps and ties are metal devices that help secure a structure’s roof, walls, and windows during high winds. They are typically made of galvanized or stainless steel for durability and strength.

There are a few different types of hurricane ties and straps, but the most common ones are:

  • Roof straps – used to help secure a roof to the walls of a structure.
  • Wall ties – help secure the walls of a structure to the foundation.
  • Anchor ties – used to help secure the structure to the ground.

Together, these straps form a three-tiered support system that makes your structure more resilient, which is how your home can survive 140 mph (225.3 kph) winds!

Trusses and the roof of a home utilizing hurricane ties to meet the hurricane strap code
Courtesy of Rhino Roofing & Construction

Simpson Strong-Tie is a leader in manufacturing hurricane ties and straps. It produces and sells every type of tie and strap mentioned above and more, catering to every need or requirement you might have. 

We’ve used their products long-term and can attest to their strength and durability.

Hurricane Strap Code Requirements

In the south, hurricane strap code requirements vary by state. So whether you’re in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas, you need to know about your state’s specific strap code.

Texas

The code in Texas requires that all homes be built with hurricane straps and ties. Additionally, these straps must be strong enough to withstand up to 110 mph (177 kph) winds.

The code also requires all homes to have a minimum of 8d nails for attaching the straps and ties. These nails must be galvanized or made of stainless steel for added durability.

You’re required to meet this code if you’re building a new home in Texas. However, if you’re retrofitting an existing house, the code only requires that you install straps and ties on the roof.

That said, it’s important to note that code covers the bare minimum, and it’s always a good idea to exceed the requirements if you can.

Florida

After 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, Florida made significant changes to its strap code. Now it has some of the most stringent requirements in the country.

a pile of rubble where a house used to be in Florida after all the hurricane damage

The code requires that all Florida homes be built with hurricane ties and straps. Structures must withstand winds of up to 140 mph (225.3 kph).

The code also requires that all homes have a minimum of three nails in the straps if it has an insurance value of more than $300,000. The inspectors will be looking for these nails when they come to your home.

If you have an older home in Florida, you may not be required to have hurricane straps on all your joints. However, it’s always good to have them installed anyway, especially if you live nearby the beach.

Additionally, if you’re thinking about selling your home, most buyers will not even consider a house that is not hurricane-proofed.

Louisiana

Louisiana’s hurricane strap code is very similar to Florida’s. All new homes must be built with hurricane straps and ties that can withstand up to 140 mph (225.3 kph) winds.

Therefore, you must include all three types of straps (mentioned earlier) to be compliant. You’ll also need to hire a licensed contractor to install them or face a $500 fine.

The main difference between Louisiana’s strap code and Florida’s is that Louisiana requires all new windows to be impact-resistant. This designation means they must withstand flying debris without shattering or breaking.

However, if your home was built before January 1, 2007, it likely doesn’t have impact-resistant windows, and you’ll need to take extra precautions during a hurricane.

Boarding up your windows with plywood is an effective way to protect them from flying debris. You can also purchase hurricane shutters designed to withstand high winds and impact.

Mississippi

The Louisiana bayou at sunset

Mississippi’s hurricane strap code is a little more lenient than Louisiana’s. All new homes must be built with hurricane straps and ties that can withstand winds up to 110 mph (177 kph).

That means you can get away with using 8d nails to attach your straps instead of the more expensive and harder-to-install bolts. You’ll also need fewer straps than homeowners in Louisiana.

The Mississippi code doesn’t require you to strap your chimney, but it’s a good idea anyway. We’ve seen properly-strapped roofs damaged by a broken chimney that wasn’t adequately secured. Therefore, we strongly urge you to strap your chimney.

A noteworthy aspect of the Mississippi code is that you are not required to install secondary water barriers (SWBs). SWBs are a layer of protection against wind-driven rain that can help keep your home dry during a hurricane.

While they’re not required, we highly recommend installing them if you live in a hurricane-prone area. They can be the difference between a safe, dry home and a water-damaged one that will require thousands of dollars in repairs.

Alabama

The hurricane strap code in Alabama is very similar to Mississippi’s. All new homes must be built with straps and ties that can withstand 110 (177 kph) mph winds. You can also use 6d nails to attach your straps instead of their bigger 8d counterparts.

Another similarity is that you’re not allowed to use more than 30 nails per tie. This oversight prevents the nails from weakening the wood and potentially causing the straps to fail.

There are, however, a few key differences between the two states. For example, Alabama requires that you install two hurricane ties per window or door, while Mississippi requires four.

Another difference is that you’re not required to have straps on every truss. In Alabama, you only need to strap the end trusses.

However, keep in mind that this is the minimum requirement. We always recommend that you strap every truss just to be safe.

Georgia

Downtown Atlanta, Georgia at dusk with freeways and green space in foreground and skyscrapers in back

The Georgia building code requires that all homes be constructed with hurricane straps. They must be installed on all gable ends, where the roof meets the walls, and on all hip roofs.

The straps must be made of metal and be at least 18 inches (45.7 centimeters) long. They must also be installed within six feet (72 inches) of the ground and able to withstand 140 mph (225.3 kph) winds.

In addition to the straps, all homes in Georgia must have a weatherproof barrier, which can be either a layer of asphalt felt or a synthetic underlayment. The weatherproof barrier aims to prevent wind-driven rain from entering the home.

It’s important to note that a licensed contractor must install these straps to be safe. If you attempt to install them yourself, you could void your home insurance policy.

We’ve heard too many horror stories of people trying to save money by doing these repairs themselves, only to find out that their insurance company won’t pay out when something goes wrong.

So, please hire a professional!

South Carolina

The code in South Carolina requires that all homes be built with hurricane straps. The final product should be able to withstand winds up to 110 mph (177 kph).

To get a permit to build in South Carolina, you must have your straps inspected and approved by a licensed engineer. Moreover, you have the option to choose between metal and wood straps.

Metal straps are the standard between the two. They are made of steel or aluminum and are fastened to the sill and top plates.

Wood hurricane straps are also an option in South Carolina. They are made of pressure-treated lumber and fastened to the wall’s sill and top plates. However, if you are using wood straps, you must use nails at least 3.25 inches (8.26 centimeters) long and have a diameter of at least 0.131 inches (0.333 centimeters) to be compliant.

A street view of downtown Charleston, South Carolina

North Carolina

The hurricane strap code in North Carolina is outlined in the North Carolina Building Code. These requirements state that all buildings must meet specific minimum standards for hurricane resistance. These standards are based on the wind speed and category of hurricanes that may threaten the state.

You must install straps in North Carolina, especially if your home was built after August 1, 1996. Straps and ties should be installed on every truss, and you need hurricane-resistant windows to be compliant.

However, if your home was built before August 1, 1996, you are not required to install hurricane straps. Still, it’s strongly recommended that you do so. These dandy straps can significantly improve the resistance of your home should it ever face strong winds.

a satellite view of the southeastern United States, showing a hurricane about to hit the Carolinas from the Atlantic ocean

What Is the Difference Between Hurricane Clips and Straps?

The main difference between hurricane clips and straps is that clips are installed with nails or screws into the framing of your home, whereas straps are installed with bolts. Hurricane clips are also typically made of metal, while straps can be metal or polyester.

Most states don’t specify which type of connection is required, but some do. For example, Florida requires all homes are built with straps, while North Carolina accepts either clips or straps. This precaution is because straps provide a stronger connection than clips and are less likely to come loose during high winds.

You also need to know the difference between hurricane clips and straps if you plan to retrofit your home with additional hurricane protection. You just can’t mix and match clips and straps. They must all be the same.

How Effective Are Straps and Clips at Mitigating Wind Damage?

Hurricane clips and straps are surprisingly effective at mitigating wind damage—so much so that they’re now coded in many hurricane-prone areas. They’re typically used to secure roofs and prevent them from being blown away, but they can also secure other house components, like windows and doors.

In general, hurricane clips and straps are most effective when used with other wind-resistant construction techniques, like those utilized in hurricane-proof homes. When all of these methods come together, they can significantly reduce damage during a hurricane.

Even if you don’t live in a hurricane-prone area, it’s still good to familiarize yourself with the different types of straps and clips and how to install them properly. That way, if you ever find yourself in the path of a hurricane, you’ll be prepared.

Are Hurricane Straps Noticeable?

Most hurricane straps aren’t noticeable from the outside or inside the house. However, some are designed to be visible, as they’re used to add a home’s exterior. These straps are typically used for styling purposes, even in areas not prone to hurricanes.

Closeup on the intersection of a ceiling joist utilizing hurricane straps

Because most straps are not visible, you may not even know they are there unless you look for them. If you’re not sure whether or not your home has hurricane straps, you can always contact a licensed contractor or the building department in your area.

You can also climb up into your attic yourself. If you see metal brackets attached to the rafters or trusses, those are likely hurricane straps.

Keep in mind that not all homes have straps, even in hurricane-prone areas. Therefore, it’s good to have a professional carry out the inspection.

Is a Home Inspection Required for Hurricane Preparedness?

A home inspection is required in most states for hurricane preparedness. The assessment will ensure that your home is up to code and has the proper hurricane protection.

The inspector can be a licensed contractor, engineer, or architect. They’ll look for any potential weaknesses in your home’s structure and recommend repairs or improvements.

There are a few different ways to find a qualified inspector in your area. You can contact your local building department or search online for a professional that comes backed by glowing reviews.

Once you’ve found an inspector, schedule an appointment well before hurricane season. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to make any necessary repairs or improvements before the storms hit.

How Often Should You Inspect Your Hurricane Straps?

It would be best to inspect your hurricane straps at least once a year, preferably before hurricane season. However, if you live in a hurricane-prone area, you may want to check them more often.

Inspecting straps is relatively easy to do, and it can bring peace of mind knowing that your home is adequately protected. To do a DIY inspection, look at your straps to ensure they are not loose, damaged, or missing.

If you notice any problems, contact a licensed contractor to have them repaired or replaced. Keeping your straps in good condition can help ensure that your home is ready for the next hurricane season.

Is Installing Hurricane Straps on an Old House Effective?

Installing hurricane straps on an old house is highly effective and an excellent way to improve its wind resistance. It’s one of the best ways to protect your home from hurricane damage.

However, installing straps on an old home is not a do-it-yourself project. You’ll need to hire a licensed contractor to do the work. It can be a tricky and dangerous job, mainly if your home is in poor condition.

The cost of installing straps will vary depending on the size and age of your house. However, it is a relatively inexpensive way to improve your home’s wind resistance, so it is well worth the investment.

If you’re not sure whether or not your home needs hurricane straps, you can always contact the building department in your area. It’ll be able to tell you if your home is up to code and if it needs any improvements.

Final Thoughts

Hurricane straps are an essential part of hurricane preparedness. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, inspect your straps at least once a year and contact a licensed contractor to repair or replace them if necessary.

By taking these simple steps, you can help ensure your home is ready for the next hurricane season.

If you’re not sure whether or not your home needs hurricane straps, you can contact the building department in your area. 

Sources

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