What Size Metal Studs For Basement?

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Metal studs are one of the most popular materials used in structural framing, including basements. These framing materials are used as an alternative to wood. But what size of metal studs should you use for your basement? Here's what we came across for you.

For basement walls, you can use 2-1/2" or 3-5/8" of metal stud for framing. While 1-5/8" metal studs can be used to frame around columns and bulkheads.

So if you're planning to use metal studs in framing your basement, keep reading. We'll talk about the standard sizes of metal studs, the pros and cons of using metal studs, and how to install them. Let's also delve into the capacity of metal studs to carry a load, proper spacing, and some installation tips that might come in handy.

metal stud bundle outside construction zone - What Size Metal Studs For Basement

What Are Metal Studs Standard Sizes?

These studs are often available in lengths ranging from 8 feet to 12 feet and in dimensions that match 2x4 wood studs. Metal studs in home centers are typically gauge-25.

In addition, the standard sizes of metal studs range from 2-1/2"-14" with flange sizes of 1-3/8"-3" and knockouts that range from 3/4"-1-1/2" in diameter. 

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Using Metal Studs?

Metal Stud for sale.

Metal studs are commonly utilized for basement structures in modest residential buildings. So here are the pros and cons of framing your basement with metal studs.

Pros

Metal studs have several characteristics that make them particularly ideal for converting a dusty old cellar into a finished basement. Here are some of its advantages. 

Metal Studs Are Durable

Metal studs are resistant to rot, termites, splitting, and a variety of other problems that can occur with organic-based building materials like wood.

Fire-resistant

When a structure catches fire, timber frames can catch fire and spread like tinder. Most structures exceeding 70 feet must have metal frameworks. Steel is non-combustible and will not contribute to a fire. 

Cost-effective

Steel studs are now only around 1.4 times costlier than wood studs. Although they are more expensive than wood, these studs last much longer.

Lightweight

Because metal studs are hollow, they are easier to transport and store than wood studs. Studs can partially nest inside each other.

Conducive for electrical wiring or plumbing installation

These studs have holes in them making electrical and plumbing installation a lot easier. 

Consistent

In storage, wood can distort. It may have cracks, knots, or flaws that you only notice on the job site. Comparatively, metal studs can remain perfectly fine after transport. 

Good for trouble spots

Using metal studs for problem areas in your house like your basement is a good idea since they are moisture-resistant. 

Cons

Although metal studs have a lot of advantages, using them also has several cons. Here are some of them.

Complex to cut

Cutting steel studs is more complex than cutting lumber. Steel requires the use of a miter or circular saw with a metal-cutting blade.

Difficult to find

Metal studs are usually only available in the most common sizes at local home improvement stores.

Complicated drywall installation

Taping a drywall screw into a steel stud takes more effort and practice than driving one into a wood stud. Sometimes, you even need to hire professionals to do the work for you. 

Not corrosion-resistant

In humid environments, steel studs can rust and deteriorate. Although many are galvanized to prevent rust, some might still rust completely at the base.

Unable to withstand heavy loads

Because the studs are composed of thin steel, they can only support a limited amount of weight.

How Much Load Can A Metal Stud Handle?

Nowadays, metal studs are a popular choice among homeowners when it comes to framing their interior and exterior walls. But how strong are metal studs? 

Metal studs' load weight limit, like that of wooden studs, is determined by several criteria, including stud height, breadth, and spacing.

Metal studs have a wide range of axial loads or load weight limits. For example, an 8-foot 3-1/2-inch metal stud can sustain more than 2,000 lbs, yet a 16-foot metal stud of the same size can only carry 400 lbs.

To achieve the same effect, taller studs may need to be positioned closer together.

How To Space Metal Studs?

metal stud bundle outside construction zone

16 inches is the most frequent and conventional distance between wall studs. If you're not sure how to space your studs, start with 16 inches. For all wall studs, most contractors employ this method.

This is the major reason why drywall is 4 feet wide and studs are 16 inches apart. Drywall is divisible by 16 since it is 4 feet long. This means that each stud will be centered on each piece of drywall.

In the construction of a wall, properly spaced studs are critical. Your walls may have various flaws as a result of not spacing your studs properly. 

What Tools Are Needed In Metal Stud Installation?

Before you proceed to the installation, you need to secure these useful and much-needed tools first: 

  • Metal cut-off saw
  • Hammer drill
  • Fasteners
  • Level
  • Screw gun
  • Laser level or plumb bob
  • Chalk box
  • Clamps

How To Install Metal Studs In Basement?

Metal stud framing room under construction

Metal stud installation can be divided into two parts:

  1. Track measurement and hanging; and
  2. Metal stud fastening and finishing.

Track Measurement And Hanging

  • Calculate how many steel studs you'll need. 
  • Draw a chalk line around the edge of the floor to indicate the location of your track. Tracks are steel plates usually placed at the top and bottom of the wall. 
  • Use the chalk line to guide the location of the bottom track, then screw it in place by drilling a hole in the track and stud, then securing it with a screw.
  • Use a laser level or a plumb bob to make sure the top and lower track are plumb.
  • Attach the track to the ceiling with a drill and a screw gun, much like you did with the ground track.

Metal Stud Fastening And Finishing

  • Trim the metal stud to the desired length by cutting both side flanges. Additionally, if you want to cut multiple studs at the same time, you can use a miter saw. 
  • Clamp the two components together tightly with C-clamp locking pliers to join studs to tracks. Place a 1/2" No. 8 pan-head screw where they meet in the middle.
  • Cut the track 2" longer than the rough opening width to create metal headers. 
  • Secure electrical wires along the centerline of each stud by fastening plastic ties to the stud.
  • For doors, windows, and cabinets, use wood blocking as needed.
  • Use self-tapping drywall screws to attach drywall or sheathing to the wall.

What Are The Dos And Don'ts When Installing Metal Studs?

Steel Framing

To guide you when you install metal studs framing in your basement, here are some dos and don'ts you can refer from: 

Do

  • Steel studs are available in a range of widths that are comparable to the diameters of dimensional lumber.
  • Remember, lower gauge numbers mean thicker studs.
  • Set up door jacks.
  • If you gently trim a hardwood 2"x4" for door jambs, it will slide within the steel stud. This strengthens the door frame and makes installing hinges considerably easier.
  • When working with metal studs, a level with one magnetic side comes in handy.
  • Self-tapping screws make it considerably easier to attach parts.
  • Some people find it more cost-effective to use gauge-20 metal studs compared to gauge-25 because the wall feels more durable. 
  • Check to see whether your architect or designer's designs include any wood dimensions.
  • Wear eye protection, such as safety glasses, when cutting metal studs and driving screws.

Don'ts

  • Unless it's a light gauge stud, don't try nailing trim into steel studs. It's not going to hold. Instead, use trim screws that are specifically designed for the job.
  • Metal studs may not be strong enough to sustain the weight of heavy cabinets like overhead kitchen cabinets.
  • Don't work with power tools while weary or rushed, it might result in injury.
  • Don't cut metal studs with bare hands. They are sharp so it is best to wear gloves.

Final Thoughts

Metals studs come in several sizes from 2-1/2" to 3-5/8" wide and are usually 8-12 feet long. However, most local home improvement stores have limited sizes available. 

In addition, most metal studs are used for non-load bearing walls. Also, spacing is an important factor for a strong and durable frame. Although studs in old homes are usually spaced at 12", some even at 24", contractors typically use 16" spacing in modern construction. 

If you're having problems with drilling into your basement walls, you might find this article helpful: How To Drill Into Basement Walls.

And if you're looking for materials for your basement walls, this article might help you: 11 Types of Basement Walls.

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