Stud Walling with Metal stud & Track - 09/01/2017

When it comes to stud material for building interior walls, there are two distinct options available in the industry: wood or metal. Both materials have their advantages and disadvantages.

This page offers an analysis of the pros and cons of each material; it refers to the light gauge metal framing that is widely available, designed specifically for partition walls. It has no structural strength and cannot be used for supporting walls.

Learn about Installing Metal Stud >

How strong is it?

On its own, wood is definitely the sturdier of the two materials. Metal appears to be flimsy, but once plasterboard is screwed to it, it is strong and rigid. There is some debate about whether or not metal stud is suitable for hanging items such as cabinets or heavy mirrors. Timber stud can be used to add structural support. Metal can only be used for non load-bearing walls.

Is it easy to use?

Metal wins here. Not only is it much lighter than wood, two metal studs take up the space of only one piece of timber. This makes for easier transporting. Metal can be cut using aviation snips, which means no sawdust. However, gloves should be worn to protect the hands from sharp edges and care must be taken to clean up any small pieces that end up on the floor.

It is also possible to cut steel studs using a mitre saw with a metal cutting blade, and it is easy to cut multiple studs at once. With both wood and metal, eye protection is a must. Always wear safety glasses.

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How about the financials?

What is the cost of using wood versus metal? As a general rule, the materials to build a standard steel stud wall are cheaper. Steel stud walls can also be built faster so there is a saving in labour costs. Made a mistake when measuring? Stud not vertical? Since metal studs are attached with screws removing and/or moving studs is simple, which saves too much wastage or time loss.

Will it warp?

Wood is prone to twisting and warping; metal is not. Wood also absorbs moisture which can lead to mould growth and rot; metal does not. However, metal can rust. A DPC should always be used between the bottom plate and the concrete floor regardless of which material is used.

Insect damage...

Insects can severely damage wood construction, but, as far as anyone knows, they have not yet developed a taste for metal.

Enviromentally Friendly?

Metal framing has sometimes been promoted as an environmentally friendly alternative to wood. However, both materials have their positive and negative points. Metal is recyclable, and while recycling is generally seen as good for the environment, the recycling process is not. Wood comes from trees, and cutting down trees is generally seen as bad for the environment. However, wood is a renewable resource and we are getting better at managing our forests. Wood scrap is biodegradable and smaller pieces can be composted, but it takes a while for wood to break down and most scrap ends up in the landfill anyway. Basically, either material can be seen as better or worse for the environment than the other, depending on your point of view.



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