Tag Archives: concrete walls

Concrete Brackets

Am sure yesterday’s blog posting on moments left a few folks scratching their heads. There actually was a method to my madness, as it leads into today’s topic.

Many may have seen various column bases at their local lumberyard or big box store. Manufactured by either Simpson or USP (similar to Simpson CB66), these products have some serious, and perhaps fatal consequences if used to support posts in a pole building.


These bases are not designed to resist overturning (moment) loads. Now this poses a challenge – how to connect post frame building columns, to a concrete foundation?

There is a solution…..

building bracketsSturdi-Wall concrete brackets are a heavy duty anchor system designed to connect post frame structures to traditional concrete foundations such as: monolithic slabs, formed walls, and existing concrete pads.

There are two types of Sturdi-Wall concrete brackets. When drill setting is preferred, the standard Sturdi-Wall is used. When setting into wet concrete, the Sturdi-Wall Plus is used.

One challenge, not directly mentioned by the product manufacturer, is the standard Sturdi-Wall concrete bracket is not designed for moment loads. Post frame buildings want to overturn; they do induce moment loads, which leads me to discourage people from using the standard bracket for this application.

Wet set installation with Sturdi-Wall Plus brackets provides the highest ultimate strength connection to a foundation, but requires being installed while the concrete is still wet. This technique avoids time consuming drilling with a masonry bit and expensive concrete anchors. Sturdi-Wall Plus concrete brackets require less concrete coverage than normal Sturdi-Walls, allowing them to work well in pier foundations.

A pier foundation would be one where isolated holes are augered or dug, then poured full of concrete.

For cases where, for whatever reason, it is desired to NOT place pressure preservative columns into the ground to support a pole building, the Sturdi-Wall Plus concrete bracket provides an solution which is capable of resisting uplift, shear and moment forces.

See, it was worth struggling through yesterdays’ blog on “bending moment” to make you “in the know” for today!

Grade Change: Part of the Building is Underground

I have a pole building in my backyard. Now I live on a lake, in the mountains. My lot is a parallelogram – 60’ x 225’ and 14 degrees out of square. From the lake, the back of my lot is probably 150 feet higher in elevation.

Hmmmm….grade change? Yes indeed, there is grade change and a lot of it.

My building is 40’ wide, in the direction the land slopes. Luckily, it is towards the crest of the hill, so the grade change there is only 12 feet. Yes, only 12 feet!

The solution was to excavate the hillside to create a level surface. 500 yards of earth removal later, we had this part handled.

Now – how to tackle placing a pole building on this site with a gigantic grade change? In our case, our engineer came up with using eight inch wide insulated foam blocks to form a 12 foot tall foundation on one side, and then stepping down across the 40 foot walls.

Made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), the foam blocks are an insulating, stay-in-place formwork which sped construction and yielded a superior finished wall. In the most basic use of concrete in construction, the foam blocks accomplished in one step what normally requires numerous steps.  It simultaneously acts as the forming system for placing concrete, the structural system for above and below grade walls, as superior stay-in-place insulation, sound suppression and as the substrate for exterior and interior finishing materials.

The building process is simple: stack the block, lay rebar, brace the wall and pour concrete.

In my case, the building was built to follow the 14 degree out of square property lines! The only tools required for this special design was a handsaw and a tape measure.

Stuccos, waterproofing, drywall, siding and other finishes can be applied directly to the foam surface, allowing the complete range of design options available with traditional building techniques.

As for the finished structure, the forms combine the strength and safety of concrete walls with the high quality insulation of EPS foam, yielding a pole building which is safer, sounder and stronger.

And just a word about the environment; these EPS blocks do not utilize CFCs (chlorofluoro-carbon) in any step of production. For those who wonder what CFC’s “do” – they create ozone depletion, which equates to an environmental hazard. Lumber use (and expense) during construction was dramatically reduced, and any lumber used for bracing was re-used on other parts of the job.

Poured into the top of the EPS block walls, are Sturdi-Wall Plus wet set brackets, to attach the building columns to the top of the wall.

Obviously, we could also have solved the grade change problem by using poured concrete walls. However we felt the EPS system provided advantages not offered by a solid concrete wall. Fifteen years later, and not a problem to be found, which convinces me I made the right choice in using foam blocks.

Pole buildings offer so many unique advantages to other forms of construction. The design solutions are often only limited by your imagination!