Metal Framing: The Lightweight Champion

Metal Framing Construction

When you work with framing - like so many things in life - you need to choose. Wood or metal framing members? Though wood is the old standby, metal is quickly gaining ground in a wide range of areas. Among the reasons for choosing metal framing members are the lack of warping, ease of transport, ability to be recycled and overall durability. Unlike wood, metal framing doesn't rot, doesn't receive insect damage and is naturally fire resistant. But one area where metal framing is commonly overlooked is situations where the weight of the final framed structure is important. Here are a few places where metal framing being lighter than wood is important:

Transportation and Storage

How many wood studs will your truck haul? Based on size, you can haul twice as many metal studs because the hollow shape allows you to place two metal studs in the same area as one wood stud. If your limiting factor is weight, you can haul three times as many metal studs - three metal studs are the weight of a single wood stud. These also help with storage space on your work site, making it easier to stage materials where you need to without taking up excessive space.

Hauling Into Place

The lower weight of metal studs is helpful when you need to get them up to a higher story where they'll be placed. It's also helpful when someone's butterfingers drops a metal stud, because it won't hit with as much force if someone or some thing is underneath it. This is another area where using metal studs helps prevent or lessen work site accidents. Steel framing members can also be used to span greater distances than wood of a comparable size, allowing you to use lighter, smaller members to cover the same distance.

Spacing Out

New construction using metal framing

Typical wood 2x4 spacing is 16" on center. But because metal studs are lacking the natural flaws and have superior strength compared to your average wood stud, they can be spaced at 24" on center. This means not only are you handling less material at a lighter weight, you're also using less material and getting the job done more quickly. With metal studs, there's significantly less waste than wood studs, with a 2% scrap rate in metal versus 20% in wood. Because they're secured with screws, it's also much easier to move a metal stud when a mistake has been made, instead of having to fight with a pry bar in tight spaces. How much stronger are metal studs? Cold rolled steel framing members are recommended for use in areas where earthquakes or severe weather such as hurricanes can be common problems.

Overall Weight

Every person working in construction has had a day when they've really overdone it. Tight, achy muscles and, in more serious scenarios, time off work to heal or even disability can occur. When metal framing members are used in construction, it's much easier on contractors and construction workers because of the material's lighter weight.

Renovations and Additions

If you have a project that is at the extreme end of the specs for loadbearing capacity, you can use metal framing members to lighten the load. With the decreased weight, a project that may have not passed building codes or would need to be handled with extreme caution can pass codes with a third of the weight of wood framing members by using metal instead. Whether it's turning an attic into a new master suite or a need to divide up an open upstairs floor plan over a long span, metal provides more options.

As you can see, in situations where lightweight but strong framing is needed, metal wins out hands down. If you have questions about whether metal framing would be right for your project or need additional information to make an educated decision, please feel free to contact us today. If you need specific information on download our Metal Framing Product Guide below.

Metal Framing Product Guide Download


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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.