Thursday, March 11, 2010

Steel vs. Wood Stud Framing

There are definitely positive and negatives to both framing with wood or steel.

Steel can be cheaper, and is straight as an arrow. It is lighter, but residential grade steel studs are very flimsy and can have that office tinny feel. The higher gauge studs are more sturdy, but are more expensive, heavier, and can not be purchased at a big box store.

An experienced commercial framer can tackle a steel basement with little difficulty, but it can be a very frustrating experience for the faint of heart. Steel, if lined up properly, allows conduit to pass through the pre-stamped holes through the studs, which is a time saver. Special small steel stud screws must be used to fasten the studs to the track, and to fasten the drywall to the studs. Wood must be placed in the door jams, because there is nothing more frustrating than hanging a door with using only screws. Also wood framing must be added if cabinets or vanities, or plumbing fixtures are going to be hung, because steel is not strong enough to hold these things securely for the inexperienced.

Soffits can also be more difficult to manufacture out of steel, but they are light, and very straight. Cornerbead must be done with spray adhesive, or the mud adhering type, and baseboards and trim must be screwed in place with special small square headed screws.

Steel studs can be cut with a metal sawblade, or the lighter gauge residential studs can be cut with metal snips. Framing long walls goes quickly, and if that is the majority of the job, it goes quickly. Unfortunately there are usually many angled, lowered, and other more difficult types of walls to be constructed in a typical basement.

Nothing can beat the fire resistance and mold and mildew resistance of steel. Also nothing can beat the amount of damage a sharp stud can do to the human hand.

If you are going to build round walls or soffits, flexible steel track with wood studs is the way to go for residential basements.

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  2. Thanks for showing the differentiation, I can now decide what frame to choose, whether a custom wood house  framing or steel.

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