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Experimental Testing of Roof to Wall Connections in Wood Frame Houses



Michael A. Riley, Fahim H. Sadek


The majority of residential construction in the United States is wood-frame construction. These buildings perform well under gravity loads, but considerable damage has been observed in such structures after significant earthquakes and major hurricanes. This is due to weaknesses inherent in current wood-frame construction and underscores the need for improving the structural performance of typical homes. To enhance the resistance of houses to natural disasters and to reduce the risk to life and property, the behavior of wood-frame buildings subjected to dynamic and lateral loads needs to be better understood. These buildings are typically constructed from diaphragms that are joined by inter-component connections, which can greatly influence the overall behavior of the structure. An understanding of the behavior of each of the structural components and connections is essential to accurately predict the performance of a housing unit under different types of loading.While the response of many of the components of wood-frame houses are well documented, there is a lack of performance data for inter-component connections between intersecting walls, roofs and walls, and walls and foundations. Since post-event investigations of several recent disasters indicate that failure of inter-component connections played a large role in the failure of many structures, the response of such connections needs to be better understood. To achieve this, experiments are needed to investigate how these connections respond as they are loaded to failure. The resulting experimental data can be used to develop improved analytical models of wood-frame structures, which can be used to design houses that are better able to resist extreme loads.This report describes the results of a series of tests on two types of roof to wall connections. These test results show how the connections are likely to perform when subjected to strong winds or seismic loads. The results of the tests provide data necessary for the development of improved analytical models of the connection response, which could in turn lead to improved design tools for wood-frame construction, and to stronger and more structurally efficient residential buildings.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6938
Report Number


connection response, experimental testing, inter-component connections, residential housing, roof to wall connections, seismic loads, wind loads, wood frame construction


Riley, M. and Sadek, F. (2003), Experimental Testing of Roof to Wall Connections in Wood Frame Houses, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 20, 2024)


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Created March 31, 2003, Updated October 12, 2021