The main issues while framing a wall are strength, quality, durability, and simplicity of usage. Wood studs are durable and simple to install, but their quality might vary. They’re tough, but only if you keep them completely dry. Many of these issues are addressed with steel studs. Are they, however, appropriate for your home? If you’re doing it yourself, should you use steel? The following information on steel studs might assist you in making your decision.
Steel Studs Basics
Steel studs in residential constructions were uncommon not long ago. They were obtained from specialized building supply businesses by builders or home remodeling pros. Steel studs are now more common at home improvement stores, however wood studs are still preferred.
Standard Sizes of Steel Studs
Steel studs are often available in lengths ranging from 8 feet to 12 feet and in dimensions that match 2×4 wood studs. Steel studs in home centers are typically 25 gauge. Here’s some more sizing info:
- Sizes range from 2 1/2 inches to 14 inches in standard sizes.
- Flanges (side portions) are available in sizes ranging from 1 3/8 inch to 3 inch.
- Electrical cable knockouts are built into the studs.
- Knockouts have a diameter of 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches.
Does not warp or bow
It won’t decay
Cutting is difficult.
It’s difficult to find
Every home center and lumber yard carries it.
Simple to cut
Can decay, particularly around the bottoms of walls
Pros and Cons of Using Steel Studs
When all variables are examined, most do-it-yourselfers will discover that metal studs offer minimal advantage over ordinary wood studs. Steel studs have a higher learning curve than wood studs, which makes installation take a little longer. Additionally, working with steel has significant safety risks.
There may be times when using both wood and metal studs is preferable, such as when connecting electrical boxes to studs and door frames. If your doors and windows are framed with wood rather than steel, you may find it easier to attach trim moldings around them.
Metal studs are formed in cold rolling machines from strips of galvanized steel. Metal studs used for structural building components are thicker than metal studs used for non-load bearing walls.
Pros of Steel Studs
- Steel studs (unless broken) always come absolutely straight, unlike wood, which can be delivered even if the boards are warped, twisted, or bent.
- Metal studs are resistant to fire, termites, rot, splitting, and a variety of other problems that strike organic-based building materials like wood.
- Steel studs are now only around 40% more expensive than wood studs, while never being as inexpensive as wood.
- Steel studs are less heavy to transport and store than wood because they are hollow. Studs can partially nest inside each other.
- Steel studs are ideal for bathrooms, basements, and other moisture-prone locations because they are impermeable to moisture.
- Galvanized metal studs are impervious to moisture and humidity, so they will not deform or decay and will last a long time.
- Metal stud construction is durable and strong enough to withstand high winds.
- Metal studs that are termite-resistant eliminate the need for pest management.
- Metal studs are hollow and light, making them simple to transport and store.
- Metal studs made of steel are environmentally friendly since steel can be recycled.
- VOCs are not produced by metal studs.
Cons of Steel Studs
- Cutting steel studs is more difficult than cutting lumber. Steel requires the use of a miter saw or circular saw with a metal-cutting blade, as well as tin snips. Metal stud cutting can be difficult and dangerous. It usually necessitates the use of a miter or circular saw with a metal-cutting blade, as well as tin snips.
- Metal studs are typically only available in the most common dimensions at your local home improvement store..
- Metal is not a forgiving material, which might be more stressful for a DIYer than working with a malleable and flexible medium like wood.
- Taping a drywall screw into a metal stud takes more effort and practice than driving a drywall screw into a wood stud (the wood helps to draw the screw into it).
- Steel studs that are exposed to moisture are at risk of rusting. Although many are galvanized to prevent rust, some might still rust completely at the base.
- The construction process can be slowed by the lack of availability of less common metal stud dimensions.
- It takes practice and patience to tape a drywall screw into a metal stud.
- Due to thermal bridging, metal studs do not contribute to energy-efficient constructions. Thermal bridging allows heat to transfer from the inside of the building to the metal studs, which are the most conductive path. A structure with thermal bridging is drafty and cold. It can also stain the cold areas of the walls with a black stain.
- While metal is incombustible, it loses strength at high temperatures, such as those experienced during a fire, causing the metal studs to buckle and even collapse. Metal studs can also ignite surrounding materials as an active conductor of heat, causing fires to quickly spread to other portions of a building.
- Studies reveal that a metal stud framing system might cost 15% more than a wood stud framing system when only the framing system is considered.
- As sound waves reflect off the hard surface of a metal stud framework, loud and echoing noises are produced.
Pros and Cons of Using Wood Studs
Because many builders (and their employees and subcontractors) are familiar with and comfortable with wood-stud construction, they are less likely to use other methods. Builders should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of wood stud construction before embarking on their next project.
Pros of Wood Studs
- Renewable wood studs are frequently used by environmentally aware builders. Furthermore, manufacturing and transporting wood studs uses less energy than steel. Furthermore, steel produces 26% more greenhouse gas emissions than wood over its lifetime.
- Wood studs are a common building material that may be found in both small and large-scale lumber stores.
- Wooden constructions are simple to maintain and repair over time.
Cons of Wood Studs
- Disaster-resistant wood stud construction costs 25–30% more than ordinary wood-frame construction.
- The combustibility of wood and the difficulties of controlling the spread of flames make building a fire-resistant construction using wood studs problematic.
- Termites can compromise the structural integrity of a wood-stud building, costing thousands of dollars in repairs. A competent professional and specific equipment are required to protect a wood-stud building.
- Mold develops when moisture collects within the walls of a wood stud structure. Mold is harmful to the building’s occupants and can cause structural damage.
- Chemicals, adhesives, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may be present in wood studs, compromising indoor air quality.
- To maintain a quiet and tranquil house, soundproofing elements are required for wood-stud walls.
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