Important Tips for Installing Metal Studs
We recently wrote a post on the advantages of using metal studs and we received lots of feedback – both in support and against the use of metal studs. We know that this is a hot topic and we respect everyone’s opinion on the subject. We believe there are indeed advantages to using metal studs (as well as a few drawbacks as you shared in the comments section of the previous article), and we want to provide additional tips for those who install metal studs for framing out non-load bearing walls. We include links to various sites that have more information on this topic from both pro and DIY perspectives. We also want to hear from you – read over the article and let us know what you think. The best learning is done when we all share are experiences and learn from each other.
Tools for Installing Metal Studs
The basics include a tape measure, chalk box, laser level or plumb bob, and magnetic level. Hand clamps and C-clamps are useful, while metal snips, a chop box or circular saw are needed for cutting. A power-actuated nailer or a hammer drill (and concrete anchors) will attach track to concrete. A screw gun is the main tool for screwing studs to the tracks and other studs. Click here to learn more.
Fasteners for Installing Metal Studs
The Steel Framing Alliance advises builders to keep their fastener selection simple. On page 10 of their Steel Framing Guide, they point out that hex-, pan- and bugle-head screws should be adequate for most applications.
- Hex heads are used where they won’t be covered by another material like drywall or sheathing.
- Pan heads are typically used in areas where drywall or sheathing will be applied.
- Bugle heads are designed to countersink into the material they are driven into, so are ideal for installing drywall.
Self-piercing screw points are great for interior drywall studs, while self-drilling screws are good for penetrating thicker structural steel studs.
Cut Individual Metal Studs
Family Handyman recommends using straight-cut aviation snips. Cut in both sides with snips and score a line on the back. After bending the stud back and forth a few times, you should end up with a burr-free cut. This method is quiet and works well if you have just a few studs to cut.
If you need to cut dozens of studs and tracks quickly, use a circular saw fitted with a toothless (carborundum) metal-cutting blade. Cut on the closed (or web) side, supporting the piece tightly on sawhorses. Protect yourself from the showering sparks, acrid smoke and noise by wearing safety glasses, a dust mask, long sleeves and hearing protection. Wear heavy-duty gloves to protect your hands from the studs’ sharp edges.
Fastening Tracks for Metal Studs
Buildipedia recommends measuring the location of walls on the floor slab and chalking the lines to establish the bottom track positions. With layout lines in place, secure the bottom track. Then use a laser with a vertical line to establish the location of top tracks. Buildipedia is partial to layout lasers for this task because of their accuracy and ability to speed up the process. Secure top tracks in place.
Then cut studs to length, if necessary. To install the studs, diyadvice.com illustrates the task in several steps. Insert a stud into the upper and lower tracks and twist it into place. As you add more studs, be sure that their open sides all go in the same direction. After aligning them with the mark on the floor runner, clamp them in place and secure with screws.
More metal stud wall-building tips from Family Handyman include:
- Don’t lay the bottom track across a door opening. You won’t be able to cut out the opening later with a reciprocating saw, as you can with wood studs.
- Studs can help position the top plate. Steel studs are reliably straight, unlike wood, so after you’ve cut one stud to size, use it and a level, plumb bob or laser, to mark the top plate’s position. Also, it isn’t necessary to cut studs to an exact length. They can be up to ¼ in. shorter, which is a great convenience when the floor is uneven.
- Cut track to use as blocking. While you could use wood to fasten top plates, use the track itself to keep things simple. Cut down the track sides and fold them out. Then fasten the track to the ceiling joist by using drywall screws through the tabs you created.
What do you think? Share your experiences installing metal studs and how installation with metal studs can differ from wood studs.