Changing the Shift of Balance - Literally

Simon Horn and Pemely Payne relate their experiences of installing Steel Strong-Wall on site.

  • Stewart Milne Timber Pemely Payne Simon Horn

Summer 2016 saw the launch of the latest innovation from Simpson Strong-Tie aimed squarely at providing enhanced racking resistance to timber structures: Steel Strong-Wall and Steel Strong-Portal.

Easy to integrate with existing timber frame designs, each Steel Strong-Wall and Steel Strong-Portal system comes as a kit, complete with all of the required fixings and adhesives to connect them to the foundations and existing framework.

“With the demand to build more housing..."

Following a recent installation using the Steel Strong-Wall, here’s what Simon Horn, Technical Development Manager of a Timber Frame provider had to say:

“With the demand to build more housing, site densities are increasing in order to achieve the maximum land potential, as well as deliver financial return. Add to this the desire for open plan living to improve comfort standards by enabling the outside to come in, together with the flexibility of design by offering different floor plan arrangements within a core footprint, fully embracing the Custom Build philosophy, and you start to compound the issue of structural stability for what is effectively an open, unrestrained box.

Floor plan designs and building footprints are often becoming longer and thinner, as well as taller, so that the necessary internal floor areas are still achieved. This, together with that requirement for natural light and ventilation through the open plan, is really challenging the limit state of a standard timber frame building.

How can you make that open structure stable and resist horizontal forces, or tension from imposed elevational features, at the same time as architecturally providing a spacious environment internally, and all whilst observing commercial performance, thermal performance and acoustic performance? Not easy.  It needed to be a considered and designed structural option that incorporated the factors required, in one solution, and that is when we proposed the Simpson Strong-tie ‘Strong-wall’.

Through the development of the ‘Strong-wall’, together with ‘Strong-wall Portal’, Simpson Strong-tie has enabled all aspects of the architectural design, to be achieved within the structural design more easily.  The product is engineered to provide maximum performance, for minimum section and intrusion, being comfortably accommodated within the depth of the external wall panel. 

The thermal performance is not compromised where the Strong-wall is located, as due to the profile, insulation can be fitted simply within and around the product.  Service distribution through an external wall is not hampered either by use of the Strong-wall, as here too thought has been applied with pre-formed service access holes included in the engineering of the Strong-wall, at useable locations vertically and horizontally.

"... fully embracing the Custom Build philosophy"

  • strongwall install stewart milne

With regard to the on-site installation the process was straight forward and completed by two operatives, without the need for specialist lifting equipment as the profile of the Strong-wall is light-gauge steel and so the overall weight much improved compared to conventional steelwork. The Strong-walls were erected at the same time as the Soleplates were fitted, ensuring correct location and levelling was all completed for the Strong-walls, before the Ground Floor Wall Panels commenced.”

“What really stood out... was the support the SST team provided"

Referring to a housing site in Kings Worthy nr Winchester, Engineering Technician, Pemely Payne adds:

“What really stood out throughout the project was the support the SST team provided. They listened to our technical requirements and helped us develop solutions that worked for our build system.

They were always on hand to provide technical support throughout our design and engineering phase and they even provided advice on the foundation requirements when we needed to deviate from their technical guidance, which in turn enabled us to support our client and their engineer.

When the product was delivered to site, they were there to provide guidance and after talking to the site team and watching the installation even identified further improvements for future plots”.

To support the launch of these systems, Simpson Strong-Tie has released a new catalogue: “Racking Solutions for Timber Framed Buildings” which provides installation advice for the installer and performance data to aid the designer. Available on request or via download from

For media and press release enquiries, contact Sarah Greenway.

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