Steel Studs vs. Wood Studs (2/1/07)
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Contractors Corner
Author: Kerry Ewald, President & Owner of Ewald Construction Inc.
Re: Steel Studs vs. Wood Studs

Basement remodeling has become very popular in the Midwest. When finishing your basement one thing to consider is framing materials. What type of studs should your contractor use to frame your basement? There are advantages and disadvantages to both steel studs and wood studs. First, framed basement walls are not load bearing so either material will work just as well as the other to support drywall. Quality drywall installers glue and screw the drywall to the studs.

Basements are generally more humid than the rest of the house because it is below grade. With this being said, wood studs are more likely to expand and contract. As a result of the expansion in the wood studs you will see nail pops in the finished drywall product over time. However, steel studs do not expand and contract so the likelihood of nail pops on finished walls is extremely rare. Bathroom and wet bar walls with cabinets are still generally framed in wood because of the plumbing lines that run through them. Also, wood studs supports the weight of the cabinets far better than steel studs could. So in these areas nail pops may be apparent.

It is very difficult to find ten straight wood studs in a bundle much less two hundred, which is the average stud count for a one thousand square foot basement. Steel studs are fastened between metal track on the floor and on the ceiling joists. They do not twist and bow like wood studs do which yields a much straighter wall.

If you are planning to hang a plasma television, heavy shelves, or as mentioned above, cabinets, wood studs perform far better than do steel studs. With steel studs, 90 lb. drywall mollies are used to hang heavier objects on the walls but will not support the weight of a plasma television. In this case, the steel studs will need to be reinforced with wood studs and possibly blocked with 2 x 6 cross supports. Trim work such as baseboard and casing nails into wood studs better than steel studs. Baseboards tend to pull away from the walls when nailed into steel track. Some contractors glue the baseboard to the walls along with trim nails when steel studs are used. Other contractors cross nail the baseboard so it does not pull away from the wall. Because of this, generally framed doors and windows need to be lined with wood studs so the door jamb and window jamb material and casing has something solid for the trim nails to bite into.

For questions about this article or for more information on steel studs vs. wood studs, please contact Kerry Ewald at
(815) 577-2482.

All Rights Reserved. Ewald Construction Inc. 2007

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