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.