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The question is pretty much all in the title: My house has metal "2x4's" in the walls. Can I hang cabinets or a TV directly on these metal studs? If not directly, is there something special I must do?

My experience with wooden 2x4s tells me that they are super strong and with correct anchor screws you could mount very heavy items on them with no problem. The reason I ask about these metal 2x4s is because these metal 2x4s seem to bend very easily, and I'm worried that if I attach my TV to them that they might start to bend and put a lot of stress on the drywall causing it to crack or worse. Am I off base? Is there some technique I should be aware of?

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Are you sure they are aluminum? They're more likely steel. –  DA01 May 1 '12 at 21:03
    
think about all the weight that stud is already carrying.. shingles + roof and side sheathing + siding + etc. Of course, the weight is distributed across a bunch of them –  jberger May 1 '12 at 21:04
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@jberger I doubt the metal studs are load bearing. They're typically used in post-and-beam structures or in non-load bearing divider walls in standard structures. –  DA01 May 1 '12 at 21:08
    
Yes. I guess I called it a house, but it is really a condo, where they are not load bearing walls. –  Nate May 1 '12 at 21:16
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@nate given that it's a condo, if this is a shared wall, that'd be an argument for not mounting directly to the wall anyways. –  DA01 May 1 '12 at 21:19
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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Metal studs are great for framing walls. They are super light, easy to work with, straight. But you've discovered one drawback...they don't have nearly the strength of a wooden 2x4 for mounting things to it.

Metal studs do come in different gauges though. The heavier, the better. But it sounds like yours are fairly lightweight.

Some options:

  • take down the sheetrock, add some wood 2x4s, re-sheetrock
  • find toggle bolts suited for this (they may exist, though I doubt any are rated for hanging actual cabinets or HD TVs).
  • add your own mounting panel on the outside...such as some nice finished furniture grade plywood. Since the plywood can be attached to multiple studs in multiple locations, it can spread the load.
  • get an entertainment system designed with its own 'wall' panel. Ikea has several, for instance: enter image description here
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Is there any rating or way I can look up what weight they might be able to support? –  Nate May 1 '12 at 21:24
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Most TV's are pretty light these days. I've hung a number from metal studs without issue. I once saw TV installer hang himself from a TV mount he installed in metal studs. –  Steven May 2 '12 at 1:11
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@Steven that's a very sad story. My condolences for the loss of your TV installer. –  DA01 May 2 '12 at 2:51
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I meant like a pull-up, not death! –  Steven May 2 '12 at 12:03
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@DA01, I thought the same thing. That's an awfully morbid demonstration. And you really can only do it once. –  JoeFish May 3 '12 at 13:02
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I helped a friend mount a 50" TV on his wall with metal studs. We used lots of screws (sheet metal I think), so it was a strength in numbers situation. I'm not suggesting this was best solution by any means.

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They make anchors that have a 2 inch piece of metal that you can bolt to. See http://www.lowes.com/pd_115385-10337-55150_4294925630_4294937087_?productId=3183817&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&pl=1&currentURL=/pl_Fasteners_4294925630_4294937087_?page=3&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=&stop_mobi=yes

These are great. I've used them to hang a dozen flat panel tv's in metal studs.

Also, since you are hanging a TV on the wall, you might be cutting a hole behind it anyway to run wires through, so you can cut a piece of 2x4 and put it in the hole and fit it in too the stud to spread out the load.

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Plan A: You could drill holes through the sheetrock and metal studs and then put the toggle bolts through the metal studs. While this is not as good as screwing to wood studs, I believe it is substantially stronger then a screw.

Plan B: Use ten times as many screws.

Plan C: Supplement plan A or Plan B with liquid nails (liquid nail to the sheetrock as a supplement).

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Liquid nails wouldn't do much. Sheetrock is just paper. –  DA01 May 2 '12 at 4:18
    
And the Sheetrock is secured to the metal studs with small screws. –  BMitch May 2 '12 at 11:36
    
Screws won't hold it, the metal is too thin - I think they'd pull out with any force. Toggle bolts are the correct way to secure it. –  Steven May 2 '12 at 13:34
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