Metal studs are an excellent alternative to wood framing and can last for decades with minimal maintenance. Recently, the metal stud price has been lower than the same size wood stud, making metal framing a cost-effective choice for your project. When metal studs are used in load-bearing applications, they can be stronger than wood framing, and they are available in various sizes and thicknesses to suit your specific project needs. This article will discuss the cost advantages of using steel studs rather than wood.
What is Metal Stud Framing?
Metal stud framing is the use of cold-formed steel components to build interior and exterior walls. A stud and a track are the two main elements of metal stud framing. In load-bearing walls and structural applications, such as exterior walls, heavier gauge metal studs are used. Lighter gauge metal studs are utilized in non-load-bearing applications.
Metal studs are framed in the same way as wood studs. They come in a variety of sizes, much like wooden studs. Most metal studs are mechanically fastened with screws. Deflection connections can be utilized where earthquake, tornado, and hurricane activity is an issue. These connections prevent the flexing of the roof above the framed wall to transfer the twisting stress to the framing below, in a seismic event. To strengthen connections, stiffener plates are frequently used around openings.
How Does Metal Stud Framing Compare to Traditional Wood Framing?
In addition to cost, there are other advantages to using metal studs in the construction process.
Metal Framing Process is Faster and Easier
Metal studs can be cut with a hacksaw or metal shears, and do not require the use of a saw blade. However, if you are using a miter saw or chop saw, you can cut 10 or more simultaneously. Even without electricity, you can cut the metal with shears, and attach them with a cordless drill.
In addition, metal framing does not split like wood, so there is no need for pre-drilling pilot holes. Metal framing does not warp, so it does not require any additional measures to ensure the frame remains square.
Metal framing does not require each stud to be cut to exact length. They can still be attached to the metal track with a screw, even if they are a little short. This also saves time, as you can take a general measurement of the length needed along the wall and cut them all to the same size. In the case of a remodel, this is a big convenience.
Metal Studs Are Lighter Than Wood
On average, cold-formed framing studs are 10% lighter than wood. This is based on dry weight. If rain has soaked the wood, the metal stud will weigh the same, but the wood can double in weight.
They Are More Stable
When you go to the lumber yard to get wood studs, you quickly discover that no two are identical. Many of them are twisted or gouged, so you must sift through the inventory to find straight pieces. After obtaining your straight studs, the next stage is keeping them straight by storing them in a dry flat location until they’re needed. Also, when installing wood studs, errors occur, which requires a lot of effort to remove and replace. With metal, it’s much easier, unscrew the old and screw in the new.
Framing With Metal Studs Can Save You Money
In the past, wood was the least expensive framing material available to professional contractors. It was readily available around the country, and the quality was good. Recently, all that has changed. Supply chain issues have made wood scarce, and when it can be found, it is prohibitively priced. Some wood framing products have gone up 167% since last August 2021.
Compare that increase to metal studs. Even though steel prices have increased in price, they are still the better value when it comes to framing a home. According to statistics, the average cost per square foot of framing materials in steel is between $2 and $5 per square foot (depending on the gauge). Framing material for wood is averaging $5 – $10 per square foot. Labor rates still run the same for both.
When you combine the dollar savings in material costs with the added savings achieved through less time spent in the framing process, using metal studs makes sense.