Metal studs are widely used in areas with high wind shear, such as the hurricane-prone Southeast, and areas with seismic activity. Steel studs are lighter, stronger and less expensive than wood. They are not affected by rot or termites, and steel noncombustible. In addition, some people have realized a savings of up to 30 percent on their homeowners insurance "because steel-framed homes can be so resistant to natural forces," according to the University of Florida. A metal-framed wall consists of top and bottom metal tracks, with metal studs secured between them.
Things You'll Need
- Tape measure
- Chalk line
- Floor and ceiling track
- Drill with drill bit
- Concrete anchors (for concrete floors)
- Felt-tipped marker
- Tin shears
- Builder's square
- Protective eyewear, clothing and gloves
- Circular saw
- C-clamp pliers
- 3/4-inch, self-tapping screws
Lay out and mark the location for the base of the metal-framed wall along the floor. Snap a chalk line onto the floor to keep the bottom track straight. Secure the chalk line string at one end of the floor, then stretch the string across the room. Hold the other end of the string taut to the floor, then lift the string and snap it to leave a chalk line.
Lay out the track on the floor, overlapping the ends 6 inches for long runs. Drill holes into the subfloor through each end of the track -- and where the joints overlap -- then every three feet along the track. Load a standard bit into your drill for wood floors. For concrete floors, use a masonry bit for drilling, then insert concrete anchors into the holes.
Notch the track with tin shears at corners to allow the overlapping track to slide into place, forming a square corner. Notch the inside edge of the track and slide the second piece into place firmly against the outer edge. Check the corner with a builder's square.
Stand a metal stud in the bottom floor track. Place a level against the stud to make sure it's straight, then mark its position iwth a felt-tipped marker to indicate where the ceiling track will be installed. Mark the ceiling track's position in several places.
Snap a chalk line along the ceiling as you did for the floor. Secure the ceiling track in place with screws, using the spacing as you used in the floor track.
Measure the distance between the floor track and the ceiling track to determine the length of the metal studs. Measure each stud individually if the floor slopes or is uneven -- the studs must fit snugly into the track to provide the strongest wall.
Put on protective eyewear, clothing and gloves. Hold each stud tightly against a sawhorse, then cut the stud to length with a circular saw. Cut the excess off the same end of each stud -- this keeps the knockout plugs for running electrical wires through the studs at the same level.
Mark the spacing for the studs -- 16- or 24-inch intervals -- along the exposed edges of the floor and ceiling tracks with a marker. Insert the steel studs into the track with their flanged ends toward the exterior of the wall. Check them for plumb with a level.
Hold each stud in place with C-clamp pliers, both at the top and the bottom. Check to be sure the openings for electrical wires are positioned directly in line. Drive 3/4-inch self-tapping screws through both tracks and into the stud. Repeat for each stud in the wall.
Tips & Warnings
- When working with square walls where all the studs are the same length, use a circular saw with a carborundum blade.
- The saw blade will throw sparks, so eye and skin protection is necessary. Gloves will protect your hands from the sharp edges of the studs.
- Photo Credit construction detail,steel studs image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com
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