Tag Archives: commercial girts

When a Contractor Ignores Building Plans

I realize this may come as a surprise, but there are more than a few times I have discovered building contractors have made errors in building assembly due to failure to examine the provided building plans.


Our client STEVE in HINES writes:

“Good morning, my building is framed, sided and roofed. However, yesterday we discovered that the sidewalls girts should have been 2x 8’s but 2×6’s were used instead (same as the endwalls). I know this is my problem to fix, but before I tell the contractor, I’d like to know if you have ever heard of this happening and if so, what they had to do to fix the problem. As it stands, it definitely does not meet wind code anymore. I’m not asking for a fix, but only some direction as where to start pursuing one. Could very well become a messy job!


Well, to begin with, I was a post frame building contractor in a past life. At times we had as many as 35 crews erecting buildings in six states. Most of these crews were very, very good. Some of them were not quite as good. Overall this mix did give me an interesting perspective – if something could be done wrong, one of my crews figured out how to do it. Along with this, chances are I have had to come up with a fix for these unexpected challenges.

In Steve’s case, actual reasoning for 2×8 sidewall girts was so his building could have a flush interior surface to drywall – known as commercial girts. (Learn about commercial wall girts here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/)

Our curiosity question was – what did the builder do with the 2×8 material supplied for girts? It turns out client had a pile of 2×8 left over when the pole building was completed. They ran short of 2×6, so building owner just assumed someone had stolen them and more were purchased!

Anyhow – there are several possible fixes. 2x4x12′ could be ripped and nailed along length of  2×6 installed where 2×8 should have been, or 2×4 could be placed vertically (3-1/2″ face against girt inside face) every two feet’ to provide a surface to attach drywall. Whichever choice is decided upon, a revision should be done to plans and sealed by Engineer of Record to verify adequacy.

Making Framing Work With Bookshelf Girts

Making Framing Work With Bookshelf Girts for Insulation

A most simple method to achieve a deep insulation cavity in post frame building walls is to use bookshelf girts, but how to make framing work?

Some quick background reading on commercial girts: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/.

Reader BRANDON in ST. JOE got today’s discussion going when he wrote:

“Hi there. I’m going to be building a post frame house and got a quote form Hansen for my building. Question is with the bookshelf Girts if they are 2x8s which measures 7 1/4” on 6×6 post that is 5 1/2” plus your 1 1/2” grade board will you notice the 1/4” difference.”

In an ideal dream world every 6×6 column would measure exactly 5-1/2 inches square. However lumber comes from trees, and trees are organic and tend to have a certain degree of variability. Rarely are timbers going to be dried after being milled, other than by nature. As such, they most usually start off being cut slightly over-sized in order to allow for shrinkage hopefully ending up with a 5-1/2 inch dimension.

I have seen builders attempt to use 2×6 bookshelf girts with 6×6 columns, if posts are perfect dimension then both sides can be set flush and surfaces for siding and interior finish are smooth. It does involve some extra work insetting things like splash planks, eave girts, headers, etc., as well.

I tried this in my own garage I had built in 1991. My posts were not perfect dimension, they were big! I had to stop drywall up against each column and then texture over posts. Trust me, it was a PITA (Pain In The Axx).

An easy fix – oversize girts by one dimension, using a 2×8 with a 6×6 column as an example. Chances are excellent columns will measure 5-3/4 inches in depth or less. If less, drywall (or other interior finish such as OSB or plywood) can be run directly across thinner columns with no adverse challenges.

I would recommend using closed cell rigid insulation sheets inside of framing, behind drywall, to create a thermal break.

Plans only? Girts Placed Correctly, and Sheeting

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi, do you sell pole barn plans without material kits? I’m interested in pricing a set of plans from you and procuring my own materials. If that’s a service you can provide please let me know. I’m looking to get a plan set for a 40’x45′ pole barn.


DEAR DAMIEN: Here is an article with all of the information you will need: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/06/pole-building-plans-sale/


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: my side wall columns are 4 ply 2×8’s and are a little over 7″ deep. My commercial girts are 2×10’s(9.25″). The girts are extended past both the skirt board and the 2×4 at the top of the wall by 2.25″-1.5″=0.75″.> How is this supposed to work? RICK in LUCEDALE

DEAR RICK: Place the girts so the outside of the girt is 1-1/2″ past the columns, any excess will be to the inside. When you sheetrock, the drywall will be attached to the girts and go right over the columns. See Chapter 29 of the Hansen Pole Buildings Construction Manual, most common mistake #4.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Does a residential pole barn home require exterior and roof sheathing? And if not required, would you recommend osb or plywood sheathing?
Thank you, JOE in SANDY RIDGE

DEAR JOE: If the siding and roofing are both roll formed steel panels, then no other sheathing would be required, unless the load situation is such as to require sheathing under the steel for shear resistance purposes. You should, however, be using Building Wrap under the wall steel and make some sort of provision for condensation control under the roof steel (either a radiant reflective barrier, sheathing with 30# felt, Condenstop/Dripstop or closed cell spray foam as examples).

As far as product – unless you are counting upon the sheathing being the holding point for the screws, OSB will do everything you need it to do.


Bookshelf Girts for Insulation

In the land where I first became acquainted with pole barn (post frame) building construction, was used a term known as commercial girts. These are actually what is more appropriately named “bookshelf girts” designed so as to create an insulation cavity which would extend 1-1/2 inches outside of the columns. The commercial girt is sized so the wall columns do not project inside of the plane of the bookshelf girts. An example would be using a 2×8 girt on 6×6 columns.

Reader Matt in Poland writes:

“Hi Mike, I didn’t come across your blog until after we purchased our pole barn package (not from Hansen) and were getting started. Our mistake, but we have learned so much from your blog.

My question is around the “illusive” commercial girts aka Bookshelf girts. When I say illusive, it is because, there are only about 2 internet postings about them, both belonging to you. We put standard 2×4 girts on the outside with Housewrap then metal. Now we are working on starting the interior and are going to go with 2×8 commercial girts inside. My question is running exterior wall things such as some plumbing, Gas lines etc. I do understand the electrical can run down the face of the post and has a 1 1/2 channel to do such, but what about those other things for rough-in.

We have taken a lot of pictures, and hope to post more information about our current build so that others can hopefully gleam information too.

Thanks Matt”

Matt’s kind words are of course much appreciated. The Hansen Pole Buildings’ “Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience™” is crafted with the idea of delivering the best value post frame building kit package to best meet with the ultimate needs of the client. In the case of Matt, it sounds as though his particular supplier may not have asked enough questions to have truly given to him the best design solution.

I will surmise Matt’s building has 6×6 columns with 2×4 “flat” girts placed on the exterior of the wall columns. As the bookshelf girts are being used to provide a surface for interior finishing only, it is possible a girt size as minimal as 2×4 could be used, holding the girt flush to the inside of the columns. Not only would this prove to be a greater cost savings, it also eliminates the transfer of heat and cold through girts which would touch both the exterior and interior finish surfaces. This type of interior commercial girt only needs to be stiff enough to resist undue deflection of the gypsum wallboard. This deflection limitation is to prevent taped joints from cracking.

As much as possible plumbing should not be run through exterior walls, especially in climates where freezing is possible during winter months.

The are some Building Code limitations as to the size of holes which can be drilled through sawn lumber, this excerpt is from the IRC (International Residential Code):

IRC R802.7.1 Sawn lumber.

“Notches in solid lumber joists, rafters and beams shall not exceed one-sixth of the depth of the member, shall not be longer than one-third of the depth of the member and shall not be located in the middle one-third of the span. Notches at the ends of the member shall not exceed one-fourth the depth of the member. The tension side of members 4 inches (102 mm) or greater in nominal thickness shall not be notched except at the ends of the members. The diameter of the holes bored or cut into members shall not exceed one-third the depth of the member. Holes shall not be closer than 2 inches (51mm) to the top or bottom of the member, or to any other hole located in the member. Where the member is also notched, the hole shall not be closer than 2 inches (51 mm) to the notch.”

This would allow for a hole of up to 1-13/16 inches to be bored through a 6×6 column, without adversely affecting the strength of the column.

Planning on climate controlling your new post frame building? Discuss the options with your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer to arrive at design decisions which will best meet your needs today, as well as in the future.

Why Not Use T Girts?

Last August one of our clients in Colorado invested in a new Hansen Pole Buildings Monitor style building. One of the features of the building was for it to be drywall ready. The
typical method we use for this is what we refer to as “commercial” girts – basically they are bookshelf style girts, set 24 inches on center, sized to match the columns and it includes a pressure preservative treated mudsill to set on top of the concrete floor, as well as the necessary backing at the top of the wall to support drywall.
For more reading on commercial girts: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/
This particular client is in an area where the design wind speed is 115 mph (miles per hour) and this particular site has an Exposure C.
Learn everything you ever wanted to know about wind exposure and then some here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/wind-exposure-confusion/
It turns out or client hired a perhaps less than qualified builder to construct his building, and along the way had to dismiss him and find a replacement builder.
Keep in mind, the modern Hansen Pole Building is the result of input from people who have collectively constructed hundreds of thousands of buildings. Our team here is always “ears open” to ideas which make for a better building, without adding astronomically to the investment.
This is part of the culture of delivering the “Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience™”.
New builder made this suggestion:
“If you are open to suggestions, the next time you sell a building such as this and the buyer wants to finish the inside, use 2×6 wall girts laying flat in between the post and a 2×6 wall girts attached to the outside of the post , nail them together in the shape of a T. It would cost less, be stronger, easier and faster to build.”
Let’s see if new builder is correct in his recommendation.
On this particular building, the sidewall columns are 3 ply 2×8, which requires a 2×10 commercial girt. To make builder’s suggestion work, it would take a 2×6 on the outside of the column and a 2×8 placed bookshelf style.
For sake of pricing discussion, I have used numbers from the closest The Home Depot® to the client, which is in Colorado Springs. Our version (the 2×10 10 feet long) weighs in at $10.93. The builder’s version (a 2×6 and a 2×8 10 feet long) come in at $6.37 and $8.46 for a total of $14.83, so certainly not less expensive in the materials portion.
Looks to me like the builder’s less expensive version comes in at over 35% more expensive!
How about strength?

The combined 2×6/2×8 mix has a Section Modulus of 15.203. while the single 2×10 is 21.3906. Now the combined mix gets to use a base Fb (Fiberstress in bending) value of 1020, the 2×10 only comes in at 935. Doing the math the combined method is 15.203 X 1020 = 15,507 in-lb, the single 2×10 21.3906 X 935 = 20,000 in-lb.
Hmmmm – the building as designed would have wall girts nearly 29% stronger than the builder’s “stronger” method.
How about easier and faster to build?
Well, it now involves having to cut two boards and nail them together as a T, rather than cutting and installing a single board. Not seeing how this is faster.
Unless – builder is thinking he will not have to place blocks under each end of the bookshelf girt.
The suction force on the end of each of these wall girts amounts to 258.25 pounds. I don’t know what the builder was planning upon using for nails, but with the recommended 10d common nails, the withdrawl value is somewhere around 37.5 pounds per nail. Factoring in the DOL (Duration of Load) factor for wind, this would amount to having to place 5 nails into an area roughly two inches by five and one half inches.
Could it be done? Maybe, but methinks it will result in a poor result – both cosmetically and structurally.
In addition, with no block under the ends of the 2×8 bookshelf girt it is going to be prone to some twisting issues.
Suggestion appreciated, however the verdict, in this case, is a resounding no.

Bookshelf Girts aka Commercial Girts: What Are They?

Bookshelf Girts aka Commercial  Girts: What are they?

I do a lot of blogging, not because I enjoy it (which I do) but because I am always “listening” and learning.  And if there is anyone out there who I can help along the way, my fun increases exponentially.  I recently came across this posting on a Farm Forum:

Commercial Wall Girts

I am going to build a new shop building and wish to be able to finish the inside, insulation, sheeting, etc. I am in Minnesota, so it has to be fairly energy efficient. I saw some brief info on the “bookshelf method” in a pamphlet I picked up from a store. Looks like a super way to provide the desired structure on the inside of the wall surface to fasten sheeting to, and provide spaces for fiberglass batts laid in there horizontally. Very material efficient method, I believe. If anyone here has used this method, please share your experiences with it, pictures too if possible. Even if you have seen one built, like by a neighbor or friend, please speak up and share.
In case you do not recognize the method by the name I gave it (bookshelf), it is a technique which puts the wall girts between the posts, laid flat, typically 2×6’s, 24 inches on center vertically spaced (instead of the usual girt method which puts them on the outside of the posts). The pamphlet says they can be toe-nailed (?) or little nailers installed above and below them, for fastening to the posts. The pamphlet says wind loading is increased with the bookshelf method. The real attractive part of this method for me is that the 2×6 girt is available to the outside tin for fastening, then provides a 22.5 inch tall space for fiberglass bat (off the shelf size for between trusses on 24 inch center) and then is flush to the inside of the wall for interior wall sheeting fastening.

I’ve done several thousand pole buildings using the “bookshelf” or “commercial” girt method. I have two of them myself – in Northeastern WA, so have cold climate to contend with.

Use a commercial girt one size larger than the columns (2×8 on a 6×6 post, etc.), setting the commercial girt so 1-1/2″ hangs past the exterior face of the column. Wrap the framing with a well sealed high quality building wrap.

You will find this installation method compensates for any irregularities in the column dimensions and creates a deeper insulation cavity. Side benefits – electrical can be run around the outside of the columns, without the need to drill through them to run wires. On walls which are a multiple of 3′ in length, it also saves having to rip the edge of a panel off either the first or last sheet of steel on the wall.

In either case, block the ends of the bookshelf commercial girts solid against the columns with what is called “bearing blocks”.  Take 2×4’s or larger (depends upon engineering) which are cut 22-1/2” long to fit between the commercial girts and install them flat against the post on each side.  The wide face of the block should be flat against the column and lined up with the edge of the post (not sticking out past the column like the girts are).   Nail these girt support blocks to the columns with a minimum of (2)10d galvanized common nails at each end (higher wind loads may require more nails).  This type of nailing is quick and easy and provides a solid support for the commercial girt above it.  Toe-nailing is done by angling a nail upwards from the bottom (or downwards from the top) of the commercial girt, at a 45 degree angle trying to catch enough of the edge of the post as the nail goes through to the column to hold it there.  Toe-nailing is a very poor connection (is subject to lots of installation error).

For maximum cost effective R value, use BIBS insulation. I found it to be cost competitive with installed batt insulation, has a higher R value and completely fills all of the voids.

I fondly remember the gal who called me one day asking for “canning jar shelves”…you know like you did before for us.”  Checking our records, I quickly discovered we designed commercial girts on their first building.  They liked them so much – they wanted them again!

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