I am trying to install a bike hoist in the ceiling of my garage. I found the ceiling joist using the stud finder and when I tried making a pilot hole, I noticed that I am hitting metal. I don't have full access of the garage crawl space but the location I went to has a metal spacer between the 2x4 and the drywall. Is it safe to drill through the metal spacer and into the 2x4 to install my bike hoist?

photo of spacer

  • Thanks for the photo. I'm curious how the heck a drywall screw is going through the metal. Though I don't see anywhere near enough screws, so perhaps the drywall was glued up.
    – BMitch
    Oct 8, 2012 at 21:34
  • Based on the new photo, I'd say that's fine to drill through.
    – Matthew
    Oct 8, 2012 at 22:02
  • That's weird. That white line under the joist looks like a seam between two pieces of drywall but if so then both edges of the two pieces should be screwed into something, especially for ceiling drywall. @BMitch suggests it being glued, but I've never heard of that... and I'd never glue anything without mechanical support as well. Oct 9, 2012 at 0:49
  • @BrianWhite A seam perpendicular to studs or joists won't necessarily have anything behind it. Sometimes when we drywall to a ceiling, we'll glue and screw. The screw pattern here looks far to sparse to be supported by only the screws. This is certainly unusual. The metal bar doesn't appear to be resilient channel, which would be used for sound protection. Perhaps it's a load bearing structure, but it's not installed like one I've ever come across (we always have a joist flush to the drywall).
    – BMitch
    Oct 9, 2012 at 1:08
  • Does that metal bar run all the way down? What is it secured to and where?
    – Steven
    Oct 16, 2012 at 3:23

2 Answers 2


Update: From the photo provided, it doesn't appear to be a safety plate. I'm leaving this answer in case someone else comes here searching on metal behind their drywall.

If that's a steel safety plate you're hitting, then the answer is "no" you don't want to drill through it. It's installed to prevent accidentally nailing through the drywall, into the joists, and into some electrical or plumbing that's very close on the other side. Go 6" along the joist and try again, and if you hit wood instead of metal, thank the last person that was kind enough to install this plate.

stud safety plate

  • +1 it's very likely a metal place specifically so that you don't drive through it... which means there is likely a utility line behind it.
    – Matthew
    Oct 8, 2012 at 20:50
  • I thought it was a metal plate first but I can see drywall screws along the the length of the studs where I am trying to screw the hoist. I tried drilling close to one of the drywall screws and but hit a metal. I'll take a picture of the metal spacer that I saw from the other side of the garage ceiling and will post it here. Thanks @BMitch for your quick response.
    – Jerry
    Oct 8, 2012 at 20:58
  • Pictures are always appreciated @Jerry. Until you have the rep, post a link to imgur.com with your photo and we'll add it to your question.
    – BMitch
    Oct 8, 2012 at 21:01
  • @BMitch, that's not it. I am familiar with that metal plate but mine was same width but with small holes and is as long as the 2x4 joist.
    – Jerry
    Oct 8, 2012 at 21:02
  • @BMitch - here's the picture of the metal spacer in the garage ceiling i.imgur.com/vvSsT.jpg
    – Jerry
    Oct 8, 2012 at 21:15

When seeing the picture of the 2x4 hanger bracket at the end of the joist as shown I would like to comment that there is some concern with drilling through the bracket so that a screw or lag bolt can engage the hung 2x4. Screwing in too near to the end of the 2x4 could cause it to split and then the holding power of the screw would be greatly diminished. If you are using lag type bolts or larger sized screws carefully select the proper size pilot hole drill bit. This will help to keep the wood from splitting and give the strongest holding power. Afterall the last thing you want is for your hung item to come crashing down.

  • I believe he's referring to the metal plate that can be seen from under the bracket to the lower left corner of the photo, not the joist hanger itself. Note that the drywall is not affixed directly to the joists.
    – BMitch
    Oct 9, 2012 at 13:44

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