How to Frame a Metal Stud Ceiling

Written by doug berthon
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How to Frame a Metal Stud Ceiling
Steel studs are light and useful for many construction projects. (construction detail,steel studs image by Greg Pickens from

Steel studs are beneficial for building ceilings because they are straight, light and can be purchased in longer lengths than wood studs. For low clearance areas, they also come in 1 5/8 inch widths. In many applications, installing a steel stud ceiling take less time and effort than it would with wood studs. Many people shy away from steel studs because they are unfamiliar with them. After you learn how to frame with steel studs, incorporating them into your other construction projects becomes easier.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Drill
  • 1/2 pan head screws
  • 1 1/2 drywall screws (if necessary)
  • Tin snips and/or chop box
  • 2 locking C-clamps
  • Laser level or 4-foot level
  • Steel track
  • Steel studs

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  1. 1

    Mark a level line around the room at the desired height to install the ceiling. A laser level works best, but a 4-foot level will get the job done.

    How to Frame a Metal Stud Ceiling
    A 4-foot or 6-foot level is used to mark the ceiling height. (level image by Albert Lozano from
  2. 2

    Screw a track on the longest wall with 1/2-inch pan head screws and then screw another track on the opposite wall. Track is used as a channel to hold the studs. If your walls are made of wood, then use 1 1/4 inch drywall screws to attach the track to the studs.

    How to Frame a Metal Stud Ceiling
    Pan head screws are used to attach the track to the studs. (the ring of screws image by Vjom from
  3. 3

    With a permanent marker, layout the studs for the ceiling every 16 inches. Normally, the centre of the studs are marked, but you can mark the sides also.

    How to Frame a Metal Stud Ceiling
    A fine-point maker works best for marking stud locations. (marker image by Rich Johnson from
  4. 4

    Cut the studs with a tin snips or metal chop box half an inch shorter than the distance between the tracks to allow for irregularities in the walls. If you are using a metal chop box, up to 10 studs or tracks can be cut at one time.

    How to Frame a Metal Stud Ceiling
    A tin snip cuts most studs, but a metal chop box works better when many studs must be cut at one time. (aviation tin snips image by Christopher Dodge from
  5. 5

    Insert the studs into the tracks (called stuffing the studs) and attach the steel studs to the tracks with one 1/2-inch pan head screw on the ends. Use a locking C-clamp to hold the stud to the track during this process.

Tips and warnings

  • To keep the ceiling from sagging, screw a metal stud on edge perpendicular to the studs. This brace sits on top of the ceiling studs. Then cut short studs to attach to that stud to the framing above about every four feet. If there is no room for a stud above, attach short studs to each ceiling stud and screw them to the framing above.

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