November 14, 2017

The Best Framing Option for Texas Coastal Homes

The framing system of a Texas Coastal home must have the strength and stability to withstand the extreme winds and heavy flooding common in the Gulf region. Imperative to the framing system of a Texas Coastal home is a continuous load path. A continuous load path ensures that when loads (force), including gravity, uplift and lateral (horizontal) loads, strike a building, the loads will move from the roof, wall and other components to the foundation and into the ground. Failure of any part of the frame can result in structural failure. According to FEMA, the key elements in a building’s framing system are the roof and foundation (horizontal diaphragms) and the vertical shear walls. The overall integrity of a home depends on the individual strength of each component along with adequate connections between them. FEMA also suggests several critical factors when selecting framing methods and material for a coastal home: choose framing materials resistant to flooding, intense winds, wind-driven rain, corrosion, moisture, and decay. Selection of a framing option should also consider ease of installation and future maintenance requirements. Along with FEMA, homeowners, builders, and architects can refer to the International Code Council (ICC) Family of Companies for recommendations on best framing options in coastal regions. The ICC recommends utilizing current International Codes (I-Codes) to create a cost-effective, disaster resilient home. Best framing practice for a Texas Coastal home involves creating a strong continuous load path, from the roof down to the foundation, with the structural strength to maintain the building’s envelope during and after severe weather events.  

Roof Framing of a Texas Coastal Home

The roof structure (roof framing, roof decking/sheathing, and any internal bracing) of a Texas Coastal home must have the structural integrity to withstand high wind and rain events. The roof transfers horizontal loads to the walls below, which then transfers to the foundation and into the ground. Failure of a roof is disastrous to a home: water can destroy the home’s contents or worse, the home can destabilize and even collapse.  According to FEMA, the durability and successful performance of a coastal home’s roof during a high-wind event are dependent on three factors.

1) properly designed and spaced roof-framing members

2) proper lateral bracing to support roof framing

3) a complete vertical load path between the roof and the top of the wall

The roof framing of a Texas Coastal home must support the roof decking and sheathing, resist the loads during extreme wind events, and transfer these extreme loads vertically to the shear walls.

Exterior Wall Framing of a Texas Coastal Home

After the roof, the exterior walls are the next component of the framing load path. The walls of a coastal home must resist forces from hurricane winds of over 130 mph, gravity loads from the weight of the structure, and the shear loads transferred from the roof and foundation. An ideal wall framing option for a Texas Coastal home is insulated concrete blocks (ICB). Homes framed with ICB are stronger than wood and steel framed houses under extreme wind events. In fact, a study published by the Portland Cement Association (PCA), compared the structural load resistance of steel and wood framed walls to insulating concrete form (ICF) walls. The study concluded that ICF walls have higher structural capacity and stiffness to resist in-plane shear forces (winds, earthquakes) than wood or steel frame walls. Additionally, the durability of concrete walls lessons the lateral twists. Lateral twists often damage non-structural elements of a building such as the finishes, plumbing, and electrical. Exterior walls framed with insulated concrete blocks can maintain a building's integrity and load path during strong wind events caused by hurricanes and tornados.  

The exterior wall framing of a low-lying Texas Coastal home must also protect against flooding and excessive rain. Importantly, the American Society of Civil Engineers 24 (ASCE 24), the referenced standard in the International Building Code® (IBC) used by architects, builders, and homeowners, mandates the design of houses built in flood hazard zones. The ASCE 24 provides the minimum requirements and expected performance for the design and construction of structures and buildings in flood hazard areas and is compliant with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) minimum requirements. Flood and rain resistant design in flood hazards zone should include elevated structures, materials that can get wet, and assemblies that easily dry when exposed to moisture. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) defines a flood-resistant material as a building product able to withstand direct and extended contact (72 hours) of floodwaters without sustaining significant damage (more than cosmetic repair) or damage to adjacent material or systems. NFIP classifies building materials according to their ability to resist flood damage from one to five. A building material classified as five is highly resistant to floodwater damage and can survive wetting and drying. A class five material can also be successfully cleaned after a flood to ensure the material is free of most harmful pollutants. The NFIP classifies insulated concrete block as five, which makes it an excellent wall framing choice for a Texas Coastal home. Flood and water resistant home design along the Texas Gulf Shore is essential in protecting coastal homes and their occupants during a severe weather event.

Bautex Blocks - the Best Exterior Wall Framing Option for a Texas Coastal Home

Texas based Bautex Wall System understands the challenges and requirements of building a strong, durable framing system for a home on the Gulf Coast. The Bautex Block is a classified five moisture resistant insulated concrete block with the strength to withstand intense hurricane winds, the gravity loads from the weight of the structure, and the transfer of loads from the roof and foundation. The Bautex Blocks meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA 320 and FEMA 361 guidelines in storm zones with possible wind speeds up to 250 miles per hour (Zone IV, southeastern states). The Bautex Block also has the strength and mass to resist the impact of wind-driven debris at speeds greater than 200 mph. Bautex Wall System creates an exterior wall frame with the strength and stability to withstand both the flood and wind hazards common in the Gulf region.

In addition to disaster-resistance, the Bautex Block Wall Assembly has other important qualities essential to the framing system of a Texas coast home.

Foundation Framing of a Texas Coastal Home

The final framing element in the continuous path is a home’s foundation. The foundation of a coastal home must have the strength to transfer the loads from the shear walls to the ground below during severe wind events. Foundation framing must also resist weathering, decay, and corrosion with very little maintenance. In coastal flood zones, pile foundations are commonly used to elevate structures above flood levels.  A complete continuous load path is essential to safely moving the loads from the roof, to the walls and foundation and into to the ground.

The best framing system option for a Texas Coastal home should resist intense winds, wind-driven rain, flooding, corrosion, moisture, and decay. Selection of framing option should also consider ease of installation and future maintenance requirements. Bautex Wall System addresses all the critical elements recommended by FEMA and is the best option for the external wall framing of a Texas Coastal home. Visit Bautex Wall System for more information on best framing options for Texas Coastal homes.

Shear walls are specifically designed to counter the effects of lateral loads, like wind and seismic loads, on a building or home.