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I live in an apartment that has that has metal studs. I'm considering hanging various things from the wall, including a coat rack that will span 5 or 6 studs. I've seen advice that says metal studs are useless and crumple like tin foil and instead of hanging from the studs, I should use one of various heavy-duty drywall screws like SecureMount or Toggler. I've also seen advice saying that heavy objects should always be attached to studs, whether metal or wooden. I've even heard both sides by two different employees at the same hardware store.

I don't know the gauge of the studs but the drywall seems to be 5/8" thick.

Since the coat rack will span so many studs, it's as easy to mount it on the studs as it is between them. So which is better?

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    A toggle in the stud will be strongest. – mac Jan 6 '14 at 16:17
  • @mac A toggle or a Toggler? – drs Jan 6 '14 at 16:36
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    The toggler in the link might be the best choice. You want as long a contact area that is completely flat against the surface which it achieves better than most toggle bolts. With it through the stud, you have it backed by sheet metal in the inside of the wall instead of the thick paper hardboard surface. – Fiasco Labs Jan 6 '14 at 20:30
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    @drs the "toggler" that you linked to is a product I have used successfully. I'd use something like that for this application. – mac Jan 6 '14 at 20:38
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It's going to be more secure to use the studs, but depending on the weight of what you're hanging, it may not be necessary. If you're hanging more than 40+ pounds, I'd go ahead and use the studs.

Instead of using wood screws or lag bolts as you would use in wood studs, use toggle bolts similar to the Toggler brand that you mentioned. Starting from the center of the stud, make progressively larger holes in the drywall and stud until the toggle bolt will fit through. Follow the instructions as if you were putting it through just drywall. You'll only need two studs for all but the most heavy items. I've used this method to hang a small server rack in a partition wall, and it's stronger than I expected.

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I've had very poor experiences anchoring into steel studs using toggles. The hole you need to drill is wide, so you're scraping out a lot of the stud just to make it. Especially if you're going into the kind of small, lightweight ~25 gauge steel studs you'll find in most condo apartments, you'll find that putting one of those toggles through a steel stud to be as good or even weaker than simply going through the drywall. They often take 3/8" to 1/2" holes to insert, which is barely lower than the width of a lot of steel studs.

For most applications, use the same thing that is holding those heavy gypsum boards up in the first place: fine-threaded drywall screws. You'll have an easier time going in with the self-drilling kind (they look like they have a little drill bit on the end), though some people go through without them just fine. Personally I like the non-drilling ones and put them through a small pilot hole so I can make sure they don't go in crooked. You can drill 3-4 of those things in in less time than a toggler takes to install. If you need more strength, add more screws. Best part is: this is how your drywall's already being held to the studs, so if you ever remove what you've mounted, you simply drill the screw in a bit below the surface of the wall, plaster over it, and you're done.

By all means, if you have parts of something heavy you're mounting that don't go over the stud, use a toggler behind the drywall there. They're great for that. They'll still take way longer than going into the metal studs though, which takes very little time. With practice you should be able to drill into a stud in ~5 seconds. Toggler's going to take a few minutes at least to put in.

Most drywall screws are only available in the #6-#8 size (and overwhelmingly it's only #6s with a few #7s), so if you need to do something heavy like a bookshelf, wall-mounted desk, mirror, etc., you can get #12 sheet metal screws. They'll take a bit longer to get in, but they're quite strong.

Update: I'm not endorsing any particular brand, but the data sheet here is quite good at listing the strength of sheet metal screws and fine threaded drywall screws in metal. Ctrl-f through for "pull-out" to see all the ratings. Everything in 25 gauge steel (the cheap little studs in most condos) is lab-rated at a minimum of 100lbs tension, and 250lbs shear, and that's for the dinky little #6s. Obviously the safety-rated strength is going to be lower than the lab-failure conditions (it's usually 1/4 the failure weight -- check the recommendations in your area), but it shows you just how much you could hold on 4+ of these guys. The big advantage the togglers have is on popout - if the steel bends for some other reason (e.g. something heavy crashes against the wall), one of the screws could pop out a little bit. Dynamic loads are also a case where togglers may be preferred, as constant pushing and pulling of the screw against the hole could fatigue the metal over time. If you have a static load (e.g. a TV that doesn't move), screwing into the studs should hold it well enough (within reason depending on the TV of course). If you have a dynamic load (e.g. a TV on one of those swivel arms), you might think about putting a toggler behind it for at least a couple mount points. That said, if you're serious about a dynamic load, you should probably take the time to cut out the drywall and install a thick plywood backing board to install the TV over.

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Do NOT use drywall or sheet metal screws as has been suggested,totally wrong. Use toggler or similar.A 1/4" toggler has a rating of about 150 lbs. EACH into steel studs/drywall.The steel maybe 25ga. but try to pull a Toggler thru one and let me know how you do.I just hung an 80 pound tv with them (4) and that is what is recommended by the wall hanger mfr. and also the tv manufacturer.

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    Welcome to Home Improvement. Just FYI, as a Q&A site, the intention is that each answer provide a solution that has not already been contributed. Also, critiques of other answers should go in a comment (requires a little more rep), and the way to show that you think another answer is good or bad is to vote on it (also requires a little more rep). Invest a little time in the site and you will soon be able to fully participate. Looking forward to your input. – fixer1234 May 14 '18 at 0:40
  • Numbers vary, but I'm finding most #12's in 25ga steel studs safety rated at minimum 80lbs of shear. Obviously less than a toggler, but like I said in my answer you can put 3-4 of the sheet metal screws in much faster than you can one toggler, and they'll hold more. That said, if your load is less shear but has very high pull-out (e.g. one of those wall-mounted TVs with the swivel arm to pull it away from the wall), or your heavy item covers few studs, then you might consider a toggler. Metal studs are meant to hold something very heavy, very close where all the force pushes down. – Josh from Qaribou May 14 '18 at 16:00
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I have no experience with metal studs, but I would first research whether they might have a tendency to warp more the wooden ones. If they do, hanging anything heavy on the wall, attached to those metal studs or not, could bow the wall one way or the other. Also, a lightweight screw could pull out or break, as there is only a thin thin thickness for it to grip onto. That said, how you would hang individual items would depend on each item's shape and weight. My hanger levels are: individual nail, hanger bar, hook type hangers, plastic anchors, molly bolts, toggle bolts, lag bolts into studs. I have never used the new sticky hangers, nor do I know anyone who has used them.

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