An essential part of installing drywall is having a proper way to secure it to the rest of the building’s structure. In the past, wood framing was the most popular method. But as time goes on, metal is becoming more prominent for a variety of reasons. These include metal stud framing in residential properties as well as commercial steel framing studs. The popularity of metal stud framing puts drywall companies in a bit of a bind. They may have made their name setting up their drywall on wooden studs, but as the market starts to shift, they need to learn how to work with new components in order to better serve their clients. So, here’s an exterior and interior metal stud framing guide with all the basic information you need.
The Framing Details You Need To Know
So, let’s start by explaining what exactly metal stud framing is. Like any type of framing, this is a layout that will determine where different partitions in a structure will sit, like drywall. At the conclusion of the construction of the structure, these partitions will ultimately determine what areas make rooms and open spaces, along with the location of doors and windows.
But what about the actual metal studs that comprise the framework? These studs are placed together to create the wall skeleton and are generally one of two types: U studs or C studs. These names are based on the shape, making it easy for even novices to find which is which. A U stud is designed to sit on the floor and ceiling of a given installation, helping to hold the C studs in their place. C studs sit on the end of the U Studs as well as at certain points along the middle. The purpose here is to create a central support system before you add the drywall, so it will stay straight.
When this is set up, you can start to do some of the other essential steps of putting the partition together. This includes setting up wiring, cable, and ventilation before adding the drywall and other design elements.
Now, with this in mind, why exactly is metal stud framing becoming so much more popular than wood? For one thing, metal is far more durable than wood. You don’t have to worry about rotting, warping, or specific storage concerns. All of these make the process of building a commercial or residential building easier. Water concerns are particularly important for drywall companies because gypsum is water-soluble. So, while working with wood may seem easier at first, it is likely going to mean additional work in the long term. In the event of a flood, the studs will keep your drywall away from the soaked floor.
Key Stud Framing Techniques
So, if you’ve been used to working with wooden framing alongside your drywall, what’s different about installing metal stud framing? Let’s first talk about the metal stud framing tools that you’ll need. These generally include:
- -A tape measure
- -Aviation metal snips
- -A plumb bob/level
- -A drill
- -C-clamp locking pliers
- -Sheet metal locking pliers
Depending on the nature of the job, you may need to add a few items off of this list, but these should generally always be present. One nice thing is that most drywall professionals already have most of these items, so they can make the transfer to metal stud framing without a lot of additional investment.
Finally, let’s go over a few rapid-fire tips for professionals to ensure a smooth installation process.
Use studs to find the top plate. This is particularly important if you know you are going to be working with an uneven floor. One benefit here is the fact that unlike wooden studs, steel studs are always going to stay straight. Make sure you cut one to the proper size and use a level to mark where the top plate is at both ends. After this, you can snap a line to find the right placement. Cutting the stud to fit perfectly isn’t nearly as important with metal as it is with wood. Generally, 1/4 in. shorter than the normal measurement is as far as you can go.
Use your tape measure/clamp to lay out the studs. Drywall is different on steel/metal framing than it is on wood. For one thing, you don’t have to worry about the sheets bumping into each other on the inside corners. One will generally be slid all the way to the back of said inside corner. One good way to handle this is by sliding your tape measure to the rear of the track so you don’t damage the steel tab.
Make sure the last stud stays loose. The proper way to handle an inside corner when you use metal stud framing is sliding that first sheet into the inside corner, and fastening the last stud adjacent to the drywall. Make sure you leave it loose until the drywall goes up. This means you use fewer studs and get a stable joint. The same thing applies to T intersections as well. Keep the top/bottom tracks a little short so the drywall can slide behind properly.
One last thing we should mention about commercial-grade metal studs is that they are generally one small part of larger projects. As a result, along with learning how to properly create and install these, you should also be aware of the other projects and work that goes into completing a project. Because of this, it’s important that you invest in project management software like eSub. On top of being able to share all relevant metal stud framing details through the cloud, you can also analyze the overall costs and progress of your projects to make sure they are going according to schedule. Best of all, our software has a modular design, so you only pay for what you need.