Q. On a remodel job, I used screws to fasten studs and blocking in a non-bearing partition. An inspector told me that only nails, not screws, could be used in this application. Is this correct?

A.Corresponding editor Paul Fisette responds: The model building codes accept nails as structural fasteners and provide the required nailing schedules for each type of nail. When something other than nails will be used, a builder must look at the code section on " alternate" fasteners. That section of the code covers fasteners like staples, pneumatic nails, and screws.

The problem with most screws is that they are hardened and brittle. Some screw manufacturers have had their fasteners tested under the National Evaluation System (NES) or by some other code-recognized evaluation system. The evaluation reports provide performance data and sometimes equivalent strength values.

The acceptance of screws for framing, even in a non-bearing partition, is up to the discretion of your local building official. In most cases, the official is likely to demand that any screws used must prove their performance with an evaluation report.