Loadbearing Top Plates

For load-bearing designs, a strong top plate is a must. You will already have determined the size and style of top plate you will be using, but when building it, you must ensure that the corners will meet in a strong bond and that any joints in the lumber are offset to avoid creating weak spots in the structure. L-shaped plywood corners can help to strengthen corners and ensure that they are square. Top plates can be constructed on the foundation before the walls are built. By using the foundation as a template, you assure a perfect match between the top and bottom of the wall. While the top plate is on the foundation, you can mark and drill holes for the precom-pression wires or straps that will correspond with those embedded in the foundation. Before moving the top plate sections aside to make way for bales, label the sections with directional arrows — N, S, E, and W — so that installation is simplified.

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