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I want to build the best exterior corners for a house in a high wind (wind not earthquake) area. I will not ever use a 2 stud corner with clips for multiple reasons. However I would like to use a California corner (2nd example) instead of a 3 or 4 stud (last example) exterior corner if the 2nd option will be as strong? The physics seems to rely on the the direction the wind comes from and which wall is bracing from that direction of wind. So I get that, but I want to know if the 3 stud corner would be as strong as the other option? There is less surface area to nail to. This would be 2x6 construction.

Stud Images

  • What kind of sheathing and bracing are you intending to use in the corner? Isn't this that determines the wind resistance more than the studs? On the face of it the two stud corner with drywall clips is indefensible, unless one is in an extremely cold climate where the insulation in the corner is the primary concern. – Jim Stewart May 22 '17 at 12:02
  • I think there's a picture missing. You talk about 4 images in your question, but I only see 3. – longneck May 22 '17 at 14:46
  • @JimStewart - 7/16" 4x8 Sheets of OSB running Horizontal. The 2 stud corner with drywall clips is not appealing at all. The 3 stud and 4 stud are. longneck Sorry, I meant 3 or 4 stud (number of studs) corners, while the last pic (pic 3) is the 4 stud corner. Not that there are 3 or 4 stud options. – Nic May 23 '17 at 21:27
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Wind damage to the house is not likely to result from bending of the wall studs, even at the corners. Wind-induced damage will occur at the joints between the studs and the soles or caps.

The exterior sheathing is what will provide stiffness and stability to the entire structure. Use the design that will allow the maximum area of attachment between the corners and the sheathing. The "four stud" corner provides the maximum nailing area on both outside surfaces.

The "California" corner requires that the sheathing on one of the walls be nailed to the 1.5" narrow edge of a stud. Many framers will not build two-stud or three-stud corners, not because they are more likely to bend, but because they provide insufficient nailing surface.

  • Correct, the California corner means the sheathing is only nailed to a stud on the outside corner of THAT wall, while on the joining wall it would be nailed to a 5.5" stud + 1.5" sideways stud (so a win/lose situation). Now I only question the one side of the wall that truly only nails into that 1.5" of material. My only concern for not doing 4 studs is thermal bridging. My next question would be: Does that corner count? Since the only exposed part of the house is the immediate inside corner? There is no technical surface area exposed to interior air of that corner 4 stud package, right? – Nic May 23 '17 at 21:29
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    I don't agree with your characterization as a win/lose. If the sheathing on the side that is nailed only 3/4" from its edge works loose, it won't matter how strong the adjacent external wall is. The building will be only as strong as its weakest corner. – A. I. Breveleri May 23 '17 at 22:44
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    Even if wood were not a decent insulator, the four-stud corner exposes only 1" of interior drywall on one wall, and 1.5" on the other wall, to contact with the studs. Even if you rely on insulation inside the walls, the heat loss will still be negligible. I would be surprised if you could detect it at all. – A. I. Breveleri May 23 '17 at 23:01
  • - This is true. A 4 stud corner would be a lot of meat and make me feel secure. It seems the corner has always been a weak link in insulation which sprouted the whole idea of the california corner to allow insulation in that area. My mind tells me that yes, there is only a tiny bit of interior house surface area exposed in the corner. Technically 5.5" of the corner is not even making contact with the drywall...so I see the theory behind that. There are however thermal images showing a lot of loss in the corner which makes this difficult to wrap my mind around WHY it's so – Nic May 26 '17 at 2:20
  • I have not seen these thermal images of which you speak, but the thermal images I have seen were adjusted so that the range of temperatures shown was normalized to the range of brightness and color available to show it. A thermal image of surfaces ranging from -10°C to 60°C looks much like one of surfaces ranging from 37°C to 40°C. - So it is probably correct to say that the heat loss is negligible, but that tiny loss is concentrated along the interior corner. – A. I. Breveleri May 26 '17 at 2:54
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If you're overly concerned about lack of nailing surface at the corner on the "open" side of the California Corner, add an additional stud about 1-1/2" from the face of the interior stud. Leaves you enough room to spray foam insulation behind it, and provides an added bit of nailing surface less than 12" from the corner. That 12" gap isn't going to give up that much in the physics department.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. – Daniel Griscom Aug 1 at 23:04
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If you are committed to interstitial (inside the walls) insulation, and are truly all that worried about heat loss in the corners, you should consider using the "Massachusetts corner" construction:

I just totally made up the "Massachusetts corner"

This takes some patience and extra labor to construct, but allows interstitial insulation to flow completely around the corner.

The interior angle should be constructed separately, with lots of nails and perhaps even small metal straps across the seam. The easiest way to make the corner straight is to temporarily clamp the 1"x4" boards to a straight stud before nailing them together. The important thing is to make it extremely stiff to support the interior drywall corner. It looks like quite a departure from standard practices but it is actually a lot stronger than the two-stud corner with those stupid drywall clips.

Now you can concentrate your attention on those awful cold strips caused by all the other studs between the outside corners.

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Your structure's resistance to wind forces is going to come from your sheathing and from having a continuous load path to the foundation. Wind will cause uplift forces on the roof, shear forces between the base of the wall and the foundation, uplift on the windward wall due to rotational forces, and the more obvious shear forces making your walls want to "lean". The studs are not what's doing the work in that situation.

Nailing surface is gonna help with the last one to keep your sheathing in place but not with the others. I know it's a little outside the scope of your question but ....just throwing that out there.

"The best exterior corners for a house in high wind area": Get the Simpson catalog and invest in a continuous load path. Hurricane clips and appropriate hardware from the Simpson catalog are your best friend. There are corner straps that will cover the bases if you really want that nice light California corner, and will do a lot more than an extra stud will.

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The claim here is that the two stud corner reduces drywall cracking at the corner. Sheathing and bracing would provide the needed shear strength.

  • I agree and don't agree. In my region, temps vary a lot. Those metal clips have a bad reputation for making the corners crack prematurely. Some of it has to do with humidity, and I believe some of it is that it's just not as much meat as a full stud. I realized advanced framing has science backing it, but for some reason no builders are using it here. – Nic May 23 '17 at 21:33

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