This article is about how to frame with metal studs. Generally speaking, when building a ceiling or interior walls, most of us think first at wood studs, but you cannot even imagine the advantages you will get by framing with metal studs. Building with metal studs is not complex, but you have to learn the basic techniques and use proper materials. We have seen many diy-ers being reluctant to framing with metal studs, as this technology is rather new for the vast majority of people, as compared to wood studs. But this is because they have been used to the traditional methods and haven’t been told the advantages of the steel studs. Read the article and pay attention to our tips.
First of all, the metals studs are not as heavy as the wood studs, so a beginner could frame a wall or a ceiling without great difficulty. In addition, steel studs are resistant to fire and insects, which make them ideal to frame walls and ceilings.
Framing with steel studs cost about the same as working with wood studs, but you have the advantage of a light material which resists to moisture, fire and insects. A beginner could easily frame with metal studs, provided he follows the basic guidelines and uses the best materials and tools. Beside buying the right metal studs for your needs, you also need pan-head screws and a good screwdriver. In order to cut the steel studs, we recommend you to use straight cut thin snips.
The metal studs are perfectly straight and have square corners. These features make the metal studs ideal for framing walls and ceilings, especially if you are an amateur constructor. Moreover, the metal studs come in a great verity of dimensions, therefore you will reduce the cutting waste and the overall costs for your project. Before framing with metal studs, you should determine the needed amount of raw materials and the right size for your needs.
In order to build with metal studs, you need the following:
- metal studs and track
- pan head screws to fasten the steel studs to the metal track
- 2-3” screws to secure the metal track
- metal brackets
- safety gloves, glasses
- measurement tape, carpentry pencil, spirit and water level
- chalk line
- drill machinery with hammering function
- electric screwdriver
- aviation snips
- ladder if framing metal stud ceiling
- use a laser level to make sure the ceiling will be perfectly leveled
- select the metal stud dimensions according to your needs (heavy duty studs for structural walls)
Metal stud ceiling framing
The first step of this project is to fasten the metal track to the wall. Consequently, you have to use a water level (or a 4′ spirit level) and a chalk line, as to mark the perimeter of the steel stud framing. Afterwards you have to install the metal track alongside the walls, using screws.
If the walls are made of concrete, you have to drill pilot holes and insert plastic dowels. If the structure of your walls is made of wooden studs, you have to use a stud finder as to make sure you insert the screws in the studs.
When framing with metal studs, you will have to cut the steel. Therefore, you need a good pair of sharp aviation snips, as make precision cuts. You should measure the required length, mark it on the metal studs and then cut them with the aviation snips.
Smart tip: it is essential to use safety gloves while cutting the metal tracks and studs, otherwise you risk injuring yourself in the sharp edges.
How to frame with metal studs
After you have installed the metal track, you have to install the first layer of studs. You should remember that the metal stud ceiling must be perfectly level, otherwise the drywall ceiling would have a poor appearance.
The metal studs must be parallel with two walls of the room and perpendicular on the other two walls. This aspect is essential, otherwise you won’t be able to hang the drywall boards properly. In addition, the metal studs must sit firmly inside the metal tracks and must be secured with screws.
Then you have to install a second layer of metal studs as to increase the rigidity of the frame. The metal stud frame must be secured to the structural wood studs by installing brackets every 3’/1 m.
Remember that the metal studs must be installed every 2′ / 60 cm as to make sure the edges of the drywall will be placed on the median of the metal studs. In this way, the joints of two drywall boards will be over a metal stud.
Next you have to secure the metal stud frame with brackets, every 3′ as to make sure the ceiling will be rigid. Consequently, the brackets should be anchored in the wood studs with several screws. On the other hand the two flanges of the bracket should be fastened to the metal studs by using a couple of screws.
Smart tip: use an electric screwdriver to insert the screws in the wood studs and in the steel studs. In addition, as you can see in these images, you can install fiberglass wool, as to increase the thermic and phonic insulation of your house.
After you have fastened the metal brackets to the wood studs, you have to straighten the flanges and drive in a couple of screws to the metal studs. This aspect is essential, otherwise the metal stud frame won’t be able to support the weight of the drywall boards.
In addition at the intersection of the two layers of metal studs, you have to use a specific accessory, as to lock them together. This basic techniques can also be used when framing a wall with metal studs, but you have to pay attention the the electrical wires and cables which go through it.
As you can see in this image, you have to install the mineral wool between the studs and secure it with a wire net. In addition, the metal stud framing must be symmetrical and perfectly level, otherwise you have wasted your money and the materials.
Therefore, you have to use the spirit level, as to make sure the frame is built properly. These aspects are critical for your project, so you have to work with great care as to get the job done in a professional manner.
In this image you can see how to frame with metal studs, but from a different perspective. You should notice quite easily the metal track alongside the walls and the two layers of metal studs.
Smart tip: when framing with metal studs, you should pay attention to the electrical wires. In this image you can see the wires for the light fixture, installed in the middle of the ceiling.
Installing mineral wool insulation
Afterwards, you can install a new layer of mineral wool, as to increase the degree of thermic and phonic insulation. The mineral wool bats must be installed between the steel studs, as to be at the same level with the frame.
Smart tip: after you have finished framing the metal stud ceiling, you have to install anti-vapor barrier, as to prevent the moisture from damaging the drywall ceiling.
The metal stud frame is almost ready, the only thing left to do is to learn how to hang the drywall boards. As you can see in the image, the steel stud frame is level and perfectly aligned, so consequently the drywall ceiling will have a professional look.
Smart tip: the metal studs must be fastened to the metal track, by using 1/2 pan screws.
How to frame a wall with metal studs
Before framing a wall stud, you have to install a metal track to the floor and to the ceiling. Therefore, we recommend you to use a tape measure and make sure you install the metal track properly.
The tracks are wider than the studs, as you will fit the studs inside the channel. In order to secure the metal track, you have to drive in screws every 10”. After you install the drywall boards, the wall will be more rigid than it might look at first glance.
Insert the metal studs in the tracks and secure them with 1/2” screws on both sides. Use a spirit level, as to make sure the metal studs are plumb. As to get the job done as a professional, you have to install metal studs every 16” (45 cm). Nevertheless, you have to add other steel studs for every door or window.
Smart tip: use low speeds when inserting the screws.
If you want to install a door inside the metal wall frame, you have to build a top header and a crippler, by using steel studs. Work with patience, as to make the frame as rigid as possible.
Drive in the screws by using an electric screwdriver, to secure the frame properly. Install the pipes and cables and then add the drywall boards to the metal stud frame.
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