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Family Handyman Provides the Basics of Framing with Steel Studs

Experts with the famous do-it-yourself magazine provide beginners’ tips for building partition walls using cold-formed steel.


Photo Credit: The Family Handyman

The do-it-yourself experts of Family Handyman say you will like cold-formed steel (CFS) framing. Steel studs are perfectly straight and won’t shrink or split. They’re light, easy to store and resist fire, insects and rot. And, steel studs are cheaper than wood.

A recent featured post by Family Handyman, “How to Use and Frame With Metal Studs,” provides information on the tools and techniques for building basement and partition walls with steel studs. Here is a summary of the post:

Metal Studs vs. Wood Studs

As the supply of quality lumber diminishes, according to Family Handyman, steel studs will replace their wood stud cousins more and more in home construction. 

“And you’ll really like the fact that steel studs are about 30 percent cheaper than wood,” says Family Handyman.

At first, framing with steel studs can be slower than with wood studs, the article says. “But once you get the hang of working with steel, it’s very user-friendly,” it adds.

Family Handyman - Trim

Cut both side flanges of a steel stud, using straight-cut aviation snips. Photo Credit: The Family Handyman

Tools for Framing with Steel

Most DIYers probably already own the tools needed for framing with steel studs. These include:

  • Tape measure 
  • Straight-cut aviation metal snips
  • Plumb bob or 4-ft. level
  • Drill with a 2-in. extension bit holder

Family Handyman suggests spending $30 more for these additional “must-have” tools: 

  • C-clamp locking pliers for temporarily clamping steel studs to tracks
  • Sheet-metal locking pliers for forming tight bends in steel track

Wall building techniques

The best technique for framing steel walls is to first fasten the floor and ceiling tracks and then install the studs one at a time. 

On the floor:

  • Lay out and mark the location of the wall
  • Fasten the steel track
  • Locate the position of the ceiling track using a plumb bob or a level held against a steel stud

On a finished ceiling: 

  • Where the stud wall framing track runs perpendicular to the joists, fasten the track to the underlying joists with 1-1/2 in. self-tapping drywall screws
  • If the track runs parallel to the joists, fasten the track to the ceiling with drywall anchors

Pro tips:

  • Don’t lay track across a door opening
  • Use a stud to locate the top plate
  • Use the track for blocking
  • Wood bucks simplify door hanging

Installing the drywall and wood trim

If your steel stud wall seems flimsy, keep in mind that it gains full rigidity once drywall or sheathing is applied. 

  • Hang drywall or sheathing using 1-1/4 in. self-tapping drywall screws 
  • Space screws every 8 in. along edges (where two sheets meet on a stud) and 12 in. on center elsewhere

For more information, see the full Family Handyman article.

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