2308.5.3 Plates and Sills
Bearing and exterior wall studs shall be capped with double top plates installed to provide overlapping at corners and at intersections with other partitions. End joints in double top plates shall be offset not less than 48 inches (1219 mm), and shall be nailed in accordance with Table 2304.10.1. Plates shall be a nominal 2 inches (51 mm) in depth and have a width not less than the width of the studs.
Exception: A single top plate is permitted, provided that the plate is adequately tied at corners and intersecting walls by not less than the equivalent of 3-inch by 6-inch (76 mm by 152 mm) by 0.036-inch-thick (0.914 mm) galvanized steel plate that is nailed to each wall or segment of wall by six 8d [21/2" × 0.113" (64-mm by 2.87 mm)] box nails or equivalent on each side of the joint. For the butt-joint splice between adjacent single top plates, not less than the equivalent of a 3-inch by 12-inch (76 mm by 304 mm) by 0.036-inch-thick (0.914 mm) galvanized steel plate that is nailed to each wall or segment of wall by 12 8d [21/2-inch × 0.113-inch (64 mm by 2.87 mm)] box nails on each side of the joint shall be required, provided that the rafters, joists or trusses are centered over the studs with a tolerance of not more than 1 inch (25 mm). The top plate shall not be required over headers that are in the same plane and in line with the upper surface of the adjacent top plates and are tied to adjacent wall sections as required for the butt joint splice between adjacent single top plates.
Where bearing studs are spaced at 24-inch (610 mm) intervals, top plates are less than two 2-inch by 6-inch (51 mm by 152 mm) or two 3-inch by 4-inch (76 mm by 102 mm) members and the floor joists, floor trusses or roof trusses that they support are spaced at more than 16-inch (406 mm) intervals, such joists or trusses shall bear within 5 inches (127 mm) of the studs beneath or a third plate shall be installed.