Drywall & Metal Stud Framing

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Drywall & Metal Stud Framing
Metal studs are impervious to rot and insect damage. (new construction image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Drywall panels attach to the wall frame to form a smooth wall. Once taped and finished, the joints between the drywall panels are not visible to the eye. While most residential wall framing uses wood studs, metal studs are also available, and some builders prefer them because they're lighter to haul and impervious to moisture. If you're attaching drywall to metal stud framing, you'll use standard installation techniques, with a few variations to accommodate the metal framing.

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Metal Stud Framing

Metal studs come in the same dimensions as wood studs, and standard installation is the same. The notable difference is that metal studs require a metal floor track and ceiling track in which each stud will stand.

Metal studs also have an "up" end and a "down" end. Holes in the studs line up with the holes in other studs and allow the builder to run electrical wires or plumbing in the wall.

Drywall Panel Installation

Standard drywall installation is the same for metal studs as it is for wood studs. Each panel must extend from the middle of one stud to the middle of another stud. The builder will install the largest panels he can safely manipulate to reduce taping and create a smoother wall.

Position drywall panels as snugly as possible to reduce seam width. For the best results, install drywall panels horizontally, hanging the uppermost panels first and the lower wall panels last.

The notable difference when attaching drywall panels to metal studs is that the screws must be installed a firm right angle to the wall. With wood studs, builders may angle the screws, but doing that with metal studs creates an oblong hole, which in turn creates a weak point.

Tools and Supplies

A circular saw, fitted with a metal blade, will cut metal studs, but the builder must wear protective goggles to prevent injury from tiny metal shards. In addition, sawing metal studs is deafening, so noise protection is recommended.

Special crimping tools lock the metal studs in place, and screws secure the studs to the floor and ceiling plates.

Regular drywall screws are acceptable when attaching drywall panels to metal studs. However, self-taping metal drywall screws feature a tiny drill bit on the end of each screw, making insertion quicker.

Tips

Noise transfers through metal more easily than through wood. A layer of felt paper applied between the metal studs and the drywall panels will absorb noise vibrations and reduce room-to-room noise transmission.

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