Shake, Rattle, and Hold: The Essentials of Seismic Fastening in Seattle

Shake, Rattle, and Hold: The Essentials of Seismic Fastening in Seattle

Shake, Rattle, and Hold: The Essentials of Seismic Fastening in Seattle

The might of an earthquake is unparalleled, shaking the very core of our existence—but while Mother Nature might be unpredictable, the science and engineering of seismic fastening are not. This article will explore the world of seismic solutions in Seattle, WA, ensuring that we stand tall and unfazed when the Earth shakes.

Understanding the Basics: Seismic Forces

Seismic forces emerge from the energy released during an earthquake. As the tectonic plates shift and slide, they send energy waves through the Earth’s crust, creating ground shaking. Buildings, bridges, and other structures must absorb and dissipate this energy to remain standing.

Why Seismic Fastening Matters

Imagine a high-rise building. Without proper seismic fastening, it’s like a tree in a storm without deep roots. The building can sway uncontrollably when the Earth shakes, leading to catastrophic results. Seismic fastening acts like those deep roots and grounding structures, ensuring they can withstand the tremors.

Types of Seismic Fasteners


Anchors are the most common type of seismic fasteners. They firmly hold the structure to its foundation, ensuring it doesn’t tip or fall during an earthquake. Different materials, such as steel or concrete, require specific anchors.


These are diagonal supports added to a structure. Braces counteract an earthquake’s lateral forces, preventing the building from swaying excessively.

Shear Walls

Shear walls run vertically through a structure, from the foundation to the roof. They are solid barriers, often made of concrete or masonry, designed to absorb and redistribute seismic forces.

Innovations in Seismic Fastening

With advancements in technology, seismic fastening techniques are continuously evolving. Modern systems now incorporate smart materials that can change their properties during an earthquake, increasing the structure’s resilience.

These materials can “sense” the forces applied to them and adapt accordingly, a groundbreaking innovation in earthquake safety.

Choosing the Right Seismic Fastener

Several factors determine the best seismic fastening solution for a particular structure:

  • Size and Height of the Structure: Taller structures experience different seismic forces than shorter ones.
  • Material: Concrete buildings require different fasteners than steel ones.
  • Location: Structures in high seismic activity zones need more robust fastening systems.

Engineers can select the most suitable fastening system for each unique scenario by analyzing these factors.

The sheer power of an earthquake is humbling. However, with the proper knowledge and tools, we can prepare and protect our structures, ensuring they withstand the test of nature. Seismic fastening isn’t just about screws and bolts; it’s about safeguarding lives, assets, and the countless memories houses and buildings hold within their walls.

For those in the Seattle, WA, area looking for state-of-the-art seismic fastening solutions, reach out to us at Evergreen Seismic, and let’s ensure safety is not left to chance. Call (206) 984-2580 today.

We Love Our Customers!

We would definitely hire this company again. They had good communication; were prompt; respectful of our property; and completed the work in less time than expected. In general, they did a great job.

Evergreen Seismic came up in a Google search when I was questioning whether my earthquake insurance was really necessary, so I called and owner Matt came out for a free inspection. It turned out that our house did have some risk factors and Matt explained what he recommended and how they would do the job. After some research, I decided to proceed. They just finished after less than a week and Matt and his crew were thoroughly professional and friendly. I especially appreciated Matt's willingness to take extra time explaining things and he even offered some free advice on a couple of unrelated areas where some foundation repair was needed. A residential seismic retrofit isn't cheap and like any insurance, you hope you won't need it. I'm happy with the quality of the work performed and the price. I would recommend Matt and Evergreen Seismic to anyone thinking about making their home more earthquake tolerant.

We worked with Evergreen Seismic in the Summer of 2023 to retrofit our Seattle home. From the very first meeting, we knew that Matt was the right person to trust this project to. He is very knowledgeable and competent, and our communication was always transparent and smooth. Evergreen Seismic coordinated the process of getting the proper permit from the city (which took some time since we were using the standard set of plans) and provided us with all the documentation. When the time came for the retrofit itself, it was performed quickly and efficiently, in just one day for our one-story, 3-br. home. The city inspector was happy with the job as well! We confidently recommend Evergreen Seismic and Matt to anyone planning a seismic retrofit work in the Seattle area.

Evergreen Seismic was amazing to work with. Matt was quick to respond to our initial query, and took the time to walk us through the process and answer questions when he came out to look at the house. His bid was very clear and thorough. He's also a great communicator and made the whole process extremely smooth once we decided to go forward. We really appreciated that nothing felt rushed or unexpected. The crew here doing the work was considerate, patient with any questions we had, and kept us updated every day about what was going on. They did a really great job retrofitting our basement and crawl space and took care of some necessary repairs as well. We were lucky enough to have Evergreen recommended to us, so passing on the recommendation now! We would hire them again with zero reservations.

Evergreen Seismic and Matt were such blessings to us during our seismic retrofit on a Bellevue home we just bought! Matt and his crew, Phil and Nick, were all equally tremendous and beyond helpful to us and my inlaws! We were hell bent on seismically retrofitting by removing drywall interiorally vs sidings exteriorally. And Matt was accommodating to our request. As a hedge though, we knew we wanted a contractor who knows how to retrofit by both methods should a need arises during the retrofit peocess! And Matt fits the bill with his extensive knowledge and years working in earthquake retrofitting. They say never open up drywall if you don't want to find out what deep dark secrets lie underneath. And boy, did we unearthed a structurally problematic framing job on most all the studs holding up an exterior wall of the house, which threw my husband and I in a loop thinking of the scope creep. But Matt stuck with us, helped to sister in all new 2x4s on the compromised studs, and best yet didnt charge us an arm and a leg to fix the framing issue because he truly cares about doing the best job at the most economical rate. The framing job along with the seismic retrofit all easily passed various round of inspections. What started as out as contractor/client relationship became friendship based on what transpired with our house framing issue. We can only hope to find contractors as knowledgeable and honest as Matt and crew!

I would hire Matt again in a heartbeat. Not only do he and his crew perform good work (in my case, seismic retrofit) at a fair price, he combines his core competencies with great people skills and clear, timely, winsome communication. I am especially grateful to Matt because he was ever so patient with me when I suffered long COVID a few weeks after signing the contract, prompting me to delay the project a few months while I recovered. Matt turned what I expected to be a stressful experience into a very good experience. I encourage anyone considering a seismic retrofit to invite Matt to visit you and give you an estimate. I expect that you, too, will be highly satisfied with the result.

Matt did a fantastic job on the earthquake retrofit for our home. Our garage had never been so clean as it was after he was done with his work. Matt had the utmost professionalism through every step of the project. The contract clearly explained everything he was going to do, and he completed every step exactly as described. He thoroughly answered each of my questions during his initial visit in a way where he not only answered the question I asked, but gave background information to educate me on the topic of seismic retrofit. It's great to have the peace of mind that not only is my home now better able to withstand the "big one" that will eventually come to the PNW, but also that the work was done by a great company.

Matt is knowledgeable and competent, and he communicates clearly before and during the job. He made sure that we knew what our options were, and that we understood them. Matt is a friendly, likable person and obviously cares about doing a professional job. He wants his customers to be happy. It was soon clear that we could count on Matt and his team to show up on time and also to clean the site each day before they left. They worked all day each day until the project was finished. I would certainly recommend Evergreen Seismic to anyone who wishes to retrofit their home. I have confidence now that my 1901 home is in much better shape to withstand a significant earthquake without coming off the foundation.

Matt came out to see if our house needs a retrofit and I was absolutely blown away by his honesty, knowledge and professionalism. He advised against retrofitting our house due to the newer age of the home but did provide me with a tonne of useful information that I did not come across during my research and while speaking with other retrofit companies.

I was extremely pleased with the seismic retrofitting job Matt and his team completed for me. The entire experience was seamless. Matt was extremely informative during the bidding process and everything was completed on time and to a high standard. The work site was cleaned everyday and work plans and schedules were clearly communicated. It's obvious that Matt and his team really care about performing quality work. To echo another review, if I could hire them for all my home renovations, I would.

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