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SFIA Tech Note: Limiting Heights for Nonstructural Standard and EQ Wall Studs

This technical note addresses the criteria necessary to understand and determine the maximum allowable heights for steel framing materials, fasteners, bridging or bracing, and deflection.


This complimentary Technical Note from the Steel Framing Industry Association (SFIA) addresses cold-formed steel studs in nonstructural interior wall systems, often referred to as drywall partitions. It discusses the criteria necessary to understand and determine maximum allowable or “limiting” heights including applicable standards as referenced in the 2018 International Building Code (IBC). Examples are provided to demonstrate selection of studs based on limiting height.

Note: Nonstructural walls are walls that do not exceed specific loads (see table below) and are not exterior walls.  Although most interior partitions in a non-combustible building are considered nonstructural, a uniform lateral live load, typically 5 psf, is required by code.   This lateral loading will impact the required stud size and spacing as the wall gets taller. See the section, “Bridging and Bracing” in the report, for further discussion on lateral loads.

Limitations for Nonstructural Walls


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