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Building code calls for 3" x .131 nails for wall framing. I wanted to use ring shank which have a better hold, but I can't seem to find RS in .131. Whenever we go to RS, the diameter drops to .120. You can get .131 diameter nails in smooth shank though.

So unless I'm mistaken, it looks like you can get RS .120 OR smooth .131, but not RS .131. (These are 21 degree gun nails).

I want to do a quality job, and the inspector doesn't care which kinds of mails I use.

Given the choice, am I better off with smooth shank .131 or ring-shank .120 nails? The rings would probably hold better, but will the reduced diameter cause other issues?

Clarification: The issue that I'm running into is that I can't find the nails that code calls for locally (and I mean at the lumber yards that supply real framers, not box stores).

My code wants 3"x.131, and the lumber yards have RS .120. When I try to get what the IRC prescribes, I get: "that's what everyone uses here" and "they don't even check nails so don't worry about it".

So the problem is, should I be using what the code book specifies (which I would have to special order and is extremely hard to find) or use what all the supply houses in my area are selling to all of the framers for wall framing because that's what they actually use around here?

There are no high wind speed or seismic considerations.

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You'll want to review the nailing schedule of the code that applies where ever you may be. The one at the bottom of this post is pretty standard. Here's a link to California's 2016 UBC nailing schedule. (California requirements may be greater due to seismic requirements.) Note that there's not one single nail specified for all wall framing; there are different nails required for different attachments.

"Upgrading" the required fastener isn't necessarily a good thing. For example do you think it would be good to use 8" spikes made for joining landscape timbers where 16d - 10d nails are required? No, that would be crazy - you'd split the wood to bits and have nails sticking into the next room and etc.

Sure ring shank and spiral shank nails are harder to pull out, they're great for decking and siding. But the upgrade isn't necessary for wall framing - walls built by the standard method hold up great. By substituting ring shank or spiral shank nails you may have unintended negative consequences - more subtle than using landscape spikes but still problems.

As a general recommendation, wait until you have a done a fair number of jobs following all applicable codes and standards to the letter before you try to improve on the standards. Even then, think very hard before getting creative. The code / standard methods are with very few exceptions tried and true, and actually a bit overbuilt to give you some margin of error. You're second guessing all the people that put them together over the years when you deviate from them.

Nailing Schedule

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  • +1 for including a nailing schedule. – Lee Sam Mar 16 '19 at 14:33
  • The issue that I'm running into is that I can't find the nails that code calls for. My code wants 3"x.131, and the lumber yards have RS .120. When I try to get what the IRC prescribes, I get: "that's what everyone uses here" and "they don't even check nails so don't worry about it". So the problem is, should I be using what the code book specifies (which I would have to special order) or use what all the supply houses in my area are selling to all of the framers because that's what they actually use? – Nick Mar 16 '19 at 15:55
  • @Nick I think you are missing the point. The Code is a minimum. You can use more nails to meet the minimum. If the Code requires 3 box nails, you may need to use 4 or 5 of the nails that are available in your area. Remember, it’s net area of shank. – Lee Sam Mar 16 '19 at 16:37
  • @nick - I don't see anywhere in the IRC where 3"x.131 ring shank are required where do you see that? – batsplatsterson Mar 16 '19 at 17:19
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I get that you want nails with better hold, but having taken apart plenty of old construction, I can assure you that even smooth shank .131 nails hold extremely well.

As a general statement, Code isn't perfect, but it's pretty decent. It's been written over the years based largely on what works well. If you can get an engineer to stamp your drawings specifying some quirky variation, then go for it. I doubt it's worth the time and expense to do certain tweaks.

My best advice is to use spiral shank 3-1/4" .131s. It'll be solid.

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  • Please see my clarification above. The "time and expense" in this case is doing it to code, as I would have to customer order nails with high shipping and waste over a week because the supply houses that sell to framers here don't stock code nails, they stock what framers actually buy and use, which do not meet code. – Nick Mar 16 '19 at 16:02
  • 3 answers have told you that code is useful. If you honestly only have 1 store within 50 miles, I feel sorry for you. My big box stores all stock normal nails. My lumberyards all stock normal nails. Sorry to sound harsh, but go buy a big box of the right nails -- an extra 50 bucks on a framing project shouldn't be such a big deal. – Aloysius Defenestrate Mar 17 '19 at 3:18
  • There are several stores. None of them sell the size nails prescribed by code. This is an issue of availability, not cost. – Nick Mar 17 '19 at 13:08
  • @Nick Why are you trying to install the EXACT size and EXACT number of nails required by Code? All codes allow “or equivalent”. If you’ve ever watched framers on a job, you’ll see they are generous with the use of their nailgun. (Just don’t split the wood.) – Lee Sam Mar 17 '19 at 17:35
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The Code doesn’t stipulate ring shank nails. It does require “box” or “common” or equivalent diameter. (See Table R602.2)

The Table gives the size and minimum number of nails required for each type of nailing situation, (i.e.: nailing double top plate together, nailing joists to top plate, etc.) just find the number of nails and type, example: 3-8d and then find the equivalent wire size for ring shank, etc.

Btw, there is a table for sheathing to studs, joists, etc. too.

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