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When does it make sense to use metal framing for an interior wall? What are the advantages to traditional wood framing?

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Around here they are generally only used in commercial construction or in buildings where flamable building materials like wood are not allowed. Wood is just much easier to work with generally.

Some advantages of metal over wood:

  1. They don't burn.
  2. They are always straight.
  3. Easier to run electrical through (come with holes, so no drilling needed).

And wood over metal:

  1. Easier to work with (cut, shape, toe nail, etc).
  2. Stronger. You can't use metal studs for load bearing walls.
  3. While metal is generally cheaper than wood, the extra accessories needed (special boxes, conduit, etc) can make it more expensive.
  4. Wood is generally easier to get - most of the big home shops don't carry steel studs.
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Regarding #4 - Home Depot, Lowes, and other big box hardware stores do carry metal studs in many areas. –  Adam Davis Jul 23 '10 at 0:09
    
@Adam - Interesting, I've never seen them at any of the locations around me, but I suppose that varies by locale. –  Eric Petroelje Jul 23 '10 at 12:43
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In my area metal studs are not cheaper than wood studs, but still widely used by pros. That leads me to think that there must be a big time savings with metal once you're experienced. In a large installation the consistency of metal makes follow-on work like electrical and drywall go much faster.

I only used metal once, and found that it was slower than wood for a DIY guy like me. I can pick-and-choose my studs so there isn't a drywall issue for the small jobs I do.

In short, if you're finishing your basement or adding a wall in a remodel, I'd stick with wood. If you're framing an entire house metal might be worth the investment in tools and learning.

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Metal might make more sense for a basement where it could be damp and cause rotting of wood.

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With properly installed vapor barriers and insulation, wood rot shouldn't be a problem. –  gregmac Jul 23 '10 at 1:45
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