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Wood-Pile-to-Beam Connections
Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction
FEMA 499/June 2005
Technical Fact Sheet No. 13

Purpose: To illustrate typical wood-pile-to-beam connections, provide basic
construction guidelines on various connection methods, and show pile bracing
connection techniques.

NOTE: The pile-to-beam connection is one of the most critical links in the
structure. This connection must be designed by an engineer.  See Fact Sheet No.
10 for “load path” information. The number of bolts and typical bolt placement
dimensions shown are for illustrative purposes only. Connection designs are not
limited to those shown here, and not all of the information to be considered in
the designs is included in these illustrations. Final designs are the
responsibility of the engineer.

Key Issues
--Verify pile alignment and correct, if necessary, before making connections.
--Carefully cut piles to ensure required scarf depths.
--Limit cuts to no more than 50 percent of pile cross-section.
--Use corrosion-resistant hardware, such as hot-dipped galvanized or stainless
steel (see Fact Sheet No. 8).
--Accurately locate and drill bolt holes.
--Field-treat all cuts and holes to prevent decay.
--Use sufficient pile and beam sizes to allow proper bolt edge distances.

Pile-to-beam connections must:
1. provide required bearing area for beam to rest on pile
2. provide required uplift (tension) resistance
3. maintain beam in an upright position
4. be capable of resisting lateral loads (wind and seismic)
5. be constructed with durable connectors and fasteners

Note: Pile-to-beam connections must be designed by an engineer.

Problem: misaligned piles—some piles are shifted in or out from their intended
(design) locations.
Option 1 (see page 3): beam cannot be shifted
Option 2 (see page 3): beam can be shifted laterally and remains square to
Option 3 (see page 3): beam can be shifted laterally, but does not remain square
to building
Option 4 (not shown): beam cannot be shifted, and connections shown in this fact
sheet cannot be made; install and connect sister piles; an engineer must be
consulted for this option
Option 5 (not shown): beam cannot be shifted, and connections shown in this fact
sheet cannot be made; remove and reinstall piles, as necessary

Note: pile-to-beam connections must be designed by an engineer.

Connections to misaligned piles (see drawings on page 3 and details below)
1. The ability to construct the pile-to-beam connections designed by the
engineer is directly dependent on the accuracy of pile installation and
2. Misaligned piles will require the contractor to modify pile-to-beam
connections in the field.
3. Badly misaligned piles will require removal and reinstallation, sister
piles, or special connections, all to be determined by the engineer.