General Corrosion Information

Because of the many variables involved, Simpson Strong-Tie cannot provide estimates of the service life of connectors, anchors, and fasteners. We suggest that all users and specifiers obtain recommendations on corrosion from the suppliers of the materials that will be used with Simpson Strong-Tie products, in particular, treated wood or concrete. We have attempted to provide basic knowledge on the subject here, and have additional information in our technical bulletins on the topic. The Simpson Strong-Tie website should always be consulted for the latest information.

Product Use Information

Understanding the Corrosion Issue

Metal connectors, fasteners and anchors can corrode and lose carrying capacity when installed in corrosive environments or when installed in contact with corrosive materials. The many variables present in a building environment make it impossible to predict accurately whether, or when, corrosion will begin to reach a critical level. This relative uncertainty makes it crucial that specifiers and users be knowledgeable about the potential risks and select a product suitable for the intended use. When there is any uncertainty about the possible corrosion risks of any installation, a qualified professional should be consulted. Because of the risks posed by corrosion, periodic inspections should be performed by a qualified engineer or qualified inspector and maintenance performed accordingly.

It’s common to see some corrosion in outdoor applications. Even stainless steel can corrode. The presence of some corrosion does not mean that load capacity has been affected or that failure is imminent. If significant corrosion is apparent or suspected, then the wood, fasteners, anchors, and connectors should be inspected by a qualified engineer or qualified inspector. Replacement of affected components may be appropriate.

Corrosion Conditions

Corrosion can result from many combinations of environmental conditions, materials, construction design, and other factors, and no single guideline addresses all corrosion possibilities. Nevertheless, important corrosion information can be obtained from the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA), the International Building Code® (IBC®), International Residential Code® (IRC®) and local building codes. The following discussion provides general guidelines and approaches for the selection of Simpson Strong-Tie products for various construction conditions, but is not intended to supersede the guidelines of the AWPA, IBC, IRC, or local building codes.

Corrosion issues for Simpson Strong-Tie products generally fall into five categories:

1. Environmental and Construction Factors

Many environments and materials can cause corrosion, including ocean salt air, condensation, duration of wetness, fire retardants, fumes, fertilizers, chlorides, sulfates, preservative-treated wood, de-icing salts, dissimilar metals, soils, and more. Designers must take all of these factors into account when deciding which Simpson Strong-Tie products to use with which corrosion-resistant coatings or materials.

The design, quality of construction, and misinstallation can directly affect the corrosion resistance of products. A product intended and installed for use in dry-service environment may corrode if the structure design or building materials allow moisture intrusion, or expose the product to corrosive conditions, such as moisture or chemicals contained in the construction materials, soils, or atmospheres.

2. Chemically Treated Lumber

Some wood-preservative or fire-retardant chemicals or chemical retention levels create increased risk of corrosion and are corrosive to steel connectors and fasteners. For example, testing by Simpson Strong-Tie has shown that ACQ-Type D is more corrosive than Copper Azole, Micronized Copper Azole, or CCA-C. At the same time, other tests have shown that inorganic boron treatment chemicals, specifically SBX-DOT, are less corrosive than CCA-C.

Because different chemical treatments of wood have different corrosion effects, it’s important to understand the relationship between the wood treatment chemicals and the coatings and base metals of Simpson Strong-Tie products.

The preservative-treated wood supplier should provide all of the pertinent information about the treated wood product. The information should include the AWPA Use Category Designation, wood species group, wood treatment chemical, and chemical retention. See building code requirements and appropriate evaluation reports for corrosion effects of wood treatment chemicals and for fastener corrosion resistance recommendations.

With Fire-Retardant (FRT) Wood, the 2015 and 2018 IBC Section 2304.10.5, 2021 IBC Section 2304.10.6, and 2015, 2018 and 2021 IRC Section R317.3.4 refer to the manufacturers for fastener corrosion requirements. In the absence of recommendations from the FRT manufacturer, the building codes require fasteners to be hot-dip galvanized, stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper. Simpson Strong-Tie further requires that the fastener is compatible with the metal connector hardware. Fastener shear and withdrawal allowable loads may be reduced in FRT lumber. Refer to the FRT manufacturer’s evaluation report for potential reduction factors..

3. Dissimilar Metals and Galvanic Corrosion

Galvanic corrosion occurs when two electrochemically dissimilar metals contact each other in the presence of an electrolyte (such as water) that acts as a conductive path for metal ions to move from the more anodic to the more cathodic metal. Good detailing practice, including the following, can help reduce the possibility of galvanic corrosion of fasteners and connectors:

  • Use fasteners or anchors and connectors with similar electrochemical properties
  • Use insulating materials to separate dissimilar metals
  • Ensure that the fastener or anchor is the cathode when dissimilar connector metals are present
  • Prevent exposure to and pooling of electrolytes

If you are uncertain about the galvanic corrosion potential of any installation, always consult with a corrosion expert. See the product pages for particular parts for more information regarding what coating systems are recommended or required for use with the parts in question.


Galvanic Series of Metals

4. Hydrogen-Assisted Stress Corrosion Cracking

Some hardened fasteners may experience premature failure from hydrogen-assisted stress-corrosion cracking if exposed to moisture. These fasteners are recommended for use only in dry-service conditions.

5. Indoor Swimming Pools

Indoor swimming pool environments are extremely corrosive to steel products. And some stainless steel is highly susceptible to stress corrosion cracking (SCC) under sustained loads in this environment. SCC can result in sudden failures. Instead of stainless steel, it is advised to use a duplex coated, post-hot-dip galvanized or ZMAX® coated low carbon steel for any load bearing components used in swimming pool environments. Regular maintenance is strongly advised.

Image of stainless steel products with title Corrosion Resistant Products

Corrosion Resistant Products

While Simpson Strong-Tie has always provided finishes and stainless steel with extra corrosion resistance, we have greatly expanded the number of products we offer in ZMAX®, hot-dip galvanized (HDG) and stainless steel to help you address your corrosion resistant needs.