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Are H-clips required by the building code for roof sheathing?
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
What H-Clips Do
H-clips provide additional stiffness between bearing points for the unsupported edges of wood panel (plywood or OSB) roof sheathing, along with the necessary 1/8” gap for expansion, as shown below illustrated on a bag of Simpson H-clips. Some older H-clips do not provide a built-in gap.
Not Always Required But A Good Idea
Most builders install them, but they are not automatically required for all applications. The International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) both refer to Table R503.2.1.1(1) of the APA Engineered Wood Construction Guide for specs. H-clips are referred to in the APA Guide as “edge support."
For the most common roof sheathing in our area, which is 1/2” nominal (7/16” actual) sheathing over trusses or rafters at 24” on center, there is no requirement for H-clips. The APA table has a span rating for the sheathing installed with, or without, H-clips, and the span rating is the same both ways. A low slope roof (below 2/12 pitch) at the same span is an exception, however, and an H-clip is specified. H-clips are also necessary for other wood panel thickness and span combinations. One or two H-clips will often allow a longer span between roof trusses/rafters.
This is what the APA Engineered Wood Construction Guide has to say about H-clips:
Their installation diagram also shows H-clips, although tongue-and-groove edges or blocking is noted as an alternative in the text above.
If The H-Clips Are Missing
If H-clips are missing when you are walking on a roof, it is often discernible by the slight flexing when you step on an unsupported plywood edge. Also, H-clips reduce any buckling of those edges over time, so they are a good idea even if not always required. But, if your roof surface is sagging between trusses, lack of H-clips is only one potential culprit. Visit our blog post Why is my roof sheathing sagging between the trusses? for other possible causes.
Diagnosing Other Roof Problems
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To learn more about roofs and attics, see these other blog posts:
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