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Cold-Formed Metal Framing with Studs: What Is It?

Cold-formed metal framing has been used in noncombustible commercial construction for more than 50 years. Recently, cold-formed metal framing has become more commonly used to frame entire structures, including non-structural interior walls, load-bearing exterior walls, floor joists, curtain walls, and roof trusses. 

Regardless of the application, cold-formed steel studs offer strength, quality and performance that is superior to wood. Those characteristics have broadened the capabilities of architects and professional contractors, enabling them to design safer, more durable structures. This article will describe the benefits and applications of stud wall framing with steel.


What is Cold-Formed Steel?

Cold-formed steel is manufactured at room temperature, which is colder than the temperatures used to form traditional steel. It has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than traditional steel and is more durable. Cold-formed steel is also cheaper to produce, which makes it an affordable option for many construction companies.

Is Cold-Formed Steel Better Than Hot Rolled?

Hot rolled steel is formed by rolling the steel at high temperatures – normally over 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. The heating process makes it easier to form the steel into the desired shape. Once formed, it is allowed to cool.

As the steel cools, it will shrink because its molecular structure has slowed down. This makes it difficult to obtain precise sizing in the manufacturing process. Therefore, the process of making hot rolled steel is less complicated and faster. This is one of the reasons that it is less expensive than cold-form. 

This is good to know if precise shapes and tolerances are not required – hot rolled can save you money. Because of the lack of precision, this type of steel is typically found in the manufacture of railroad tracks, tractor trailer frames and other welded products.

Cold-formed steel is also initially heated, then allowed to cool to room temperature. After cooling, however, the steel is subjected to annealing or tempers rolling. Annealing increases the ductility of the steel, making it easier to work with, while tempers rolling smooths the surface and reduces the steel to its final thickness. These additional steps provide a wider range of finishes and closer dimensional tolerances than possible with hot rolled steel.


Steel Studs vs. Wood Studs

Framing with steel studs has been commonplace in low-rise and mid-rise commercial construction for decades, but the residential market has taken notice and is switching from wood to steel. Here are some of the reasons why:


  • Steel studs – non-structural – can be cut without the use of a chop saw. All that is needed is a pair of metal snips. Using a chop saw with a metal blade will allow you to cut 10 or more at a time, resulting in additional labor savings.
  • Metal studs easily twist into place and attach with screws. If they are a little short, you can still attach them to the channel without having to waste a stud by recutting a new one.
  • Steel studs weigh half as much as their wood counterparts.
  • Steel studs have knock-outs formed in the stud making it easy to run electrical and plumbing lines.

Earthquakes and Hurricanes

  • Framing made of steel can be designed to satisfy the most stringent building codes, including those in areas with high seismic activity and heavy wind loads.
  • It has the greatest strength-to-weight ratio of any framing material, and a lighter structure with more robust connections protects against seismic forces tearing it down.
  • The toughness and resilience of steel enable it to endure earthquakes.
  • With a steel framework, there’s less danger of wind damage thanks to more secure (screwed vs. nailed) connections.

Cold-Formed Steel is Sustainable

Cold-formed steel lasts longer than wood, so the structures made from it are less likely to need repairs or reconstruction.

With cold-formed steel, the building process is more sustainable because it’s lightweight. This means less emissions in transportation and reduced resources needed for lifting during construction which makes this material both environmentally friendly as well as efficient!

Finally, the sustainability of cold-formed steel is rooted in its recyclability. This means that when a structure is demolished, cold-formed steel can be easily reused or recycled, making it a more environmentally-friendly building material than other single-use substances. With the pressure on all industries, including construction, to use sustainable materials, cold-formed steel remains an unimpaired building option.

Builders, Engineers and Architects Can Confidently Recommend Cold-Formed Steel Stud Framing for Their Commercial and Residential Builders

Cold-formed metal framing has many benefits that make it an ideal choice for builders, engineers, and architects. Steel framing is ideal for commercial buildings and custom homes because it’s cost effective and has a high structural capacity. Some of its key benefits include:

  • Strength and Durability: It is incredibly strong and durable, making it the perfect choice for both commercial and residential construction.
  • Versatility: It can be used in a variety of applications, making it a versatile choice for builders and architects.
  • Ease of Installation: It is easy to install and doesn’t require specialty tools, making it a great choice for builders who are looking for a quick and easy installation process.

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