21st Jul 2023 -

Metal stud and track installations have become increasingly popular in the construction industry due to their versatility and strength. But like any construction method, they are not without their challenges. Understanding the potential issues that can arise during metal studs and tracks is crucial to properly build your project and efficiently address any issues. In this article, we explore the main issues that can occur when you install metal track and studs, as well as provide practical solutions to overcome them.

What are the key issues with metal stud and track installations?

Metal stud and track system installations offer numerous benefits such as durability, fire and termite resistance, and design flexibility. But it is important to be aware of potential issues during the installation process. From structural stability to thermal bridging and moisture concerns, understanding and addressing these issues will allow you to achieve a successful and long-lasting metal stud and track installation. Below are some of the main challenges of building a stud wall and the best solutions to tackle them. 

1. Poor fastening

Inadequate or improper fastening of metal studs and tracks can lead to instability and structural weaknesses. Also, insufficient screws or nails, improper stud wall spacing, or failure to securely tighten a fixing to a stud wall will lead to a loose or shifting frame, compromising the ceiling, wall or partition stability.

Solution: Ensure proper spacing and use the recommended number and type of fasteners. Also, you should use appropriate screws or nails specifically designed for metal framing, and make sure to tighten the fasteners securely to prevent any movement or loosening.

2. Incorrect alignment

If the metal studs and tracks are not properly aligned during installation, it can lead to uneven surfaces, warped walls, or misaligned door and window openings. This can cause aesthetic issues, as well as difficulties during finishing work, and potential problems with functionality.

Solution: Use a level and plumb line during installation to ensure accurate alignment. Plus, be sure to double-check measurements and reference points before securing the studs and tracks. You should also make adjustments as needed to ensure straight and level framing.

3. Inadequate supporting structures

Metal studs and tracks rely on appropriate supporting structures for stability. Insufficient or inadequate supporting components - such as inadequate framing or improper bracing - can result in structural instability, sagging walls, or even collapse in extreme cases.

Solution: Take extra care to follow the building codes and standards for proper framing and structural support. You also need to use additional bracing or cross-bracing as necessary to enhance stability. Plus, it is advised to consult with a structural engineer if there are concerns about the load-bearing capacity of the metal stud and track system.

4. Thermal bridging

Metal studs have higher thermal conductivity compared to traditional timber framing. If not addressed properly, this can result in thermal bridging, where heat is transferred through the studs and tracks, reducing the overall energy efficiency of your building. It can lead to increased cost of heating or cooling and potential discomfort for occupants.

Solution: Install thermal breaks or insulation materials between the metal studs and tracks as this will reduce heat transfer. Make sure to use insulated sheathing or rigid foam insulation on the exterior of the metal framing. Also, think about using composite or hybrid framing systems that combine metal studs with insulating materials.

5. Sound transmission

Sound vibrations can transmit more effectively with metal studs than with timber framing. If sound insulation measures are not properly put in place during installation, it can result in increased noise transmission between rooms or spaces. This can be a concern in residential, commercial, or industrial settings where soundproof walls are important.

Solution: Be sure to install soundproofing materials - such as resilient channel, acoustic insulation, or sound-damping barrier options - within the metal stud cavities. Ensure proper sealing of gaps and joints to minimise sound leaks. Consider using double layers of plasterboard with an acoustic barrier between them to further reduce sound transmission.

6. Moisture and corrosion

Metal studs are susceptible to corrosion if they come into contact with moisture or are exposed to high-humidity environments. Improper sealing or waterproofing measures can result in moisture penetration, leading to rust and deterioration of the metal components. This can compromise the structural integrity and longevity of your installation.

Solution: To prevent moisture infiltration, apply appropriate moisture barriers or sealants on the exterior of the metal stud frame. You also need to avoid direct contact between metal studs and moisture-prone materials. Plus, choose galvanised or corrosion-resistant metal studs and tracks for increased durability.

7. Electrical and plumbing integration

Metal stud and track installations need to accommodate electrical wiring and plumbing pipes. Poor planning or improper installation can result in difficulties in routing or accessing these services, leading to delays, rework, or compromised functionality.

Solution: For a safe and secure process throughout, coordinate with electricians and plumbers to determine the optimal placement of utilities within the metal stud framing. In addition, incorporate conduit sleeves or raceways within the framing to facilitate future electrical and plumbing installations. Also, mark and document the location of utilities for future reference and maintenance.

Can you save time and money on metal stud and track installation?

Depending on the size of the steel frame building project, a skilled and experienced team of installers can typically complete the installation at a rate of 25 to 35 feet per hour. This includes the time needed for measuring, cutting, aligning, fastening, and making any adjustments. Fortunately, various techniques can help streamline the installation process, allowing for time and labour cost savings without compromising quality.

Use pre-fabricated or pre-cut metal studs and tracks

Some manufacturers offer pre-fabricated metal studs and tracks that are pre-cut to specific lengths and pre-punched with holes for faster installation. This eliminates the need for time-consuming measuring, cutting, and drilling on-site.

Establish an efficient assembly line

If you have a team working on the installation, consider implementing an assembly line approach. Each team member can specialise in specific tasks, such as cutting, fastening, or aligning the studs and tracks. The division of labour can improve efficiency and save time.

Effective material handling

Be sure to organise and stage the metal studs and tracks in a logical and easily accessible manner. This will minimise time wasted on searching for materials and allow for smooth workflow during the metal stud and track installation.

Use self-drilling screws or fasteners

Self-drilling screws or fasteners have built-in drill bits, which eliminates the need for pre-drilling holes in the metal studs. This can save considerable time, especially when working with a large number of studs and tracks.

Invest in specialised tools and equipment

Explore the availability of specialised tools and equipment designed specifically for metal stud and track installation. For example, there are tools available that can help with quick alignment, levelling, or cutting of metal studs, further reducing installation time and saving on labour costs. 

If done correctly, metal stud and track installation can be more efficient and cost-effective compared to traditional wood framing methods. Find out how to make a stud wall with our comprehensive article. 

6 top tips for a smooth metal stud and track installation

From careful planning and preparation to accurate layout, proper fastening, and quality control, these guidelines will help you achieve optimal results. Whether you are working on commercial buildings, residential homes, or interior metal stud partition walls, following best practices can ensure a smooth and reliable installation process. Below, we provide 6 valuable top tips for working with metal studs and tracks.

Installation tipReason
1. Prepare and plan - Carefully review the construction drawings and specifications to understand the layout and requirements for the metal stud framing.
- Create a detailed material takeoff to ensure you have the correct quantity and sizes of metal studs, tracks, fasteners, and accessories.
2. Gather tools and materials- Ensure you have the necessary tools and equipment for the installation, including a stud crimping tool, aviation snips, drill/driver, screw guns, laser level, plumb bob, tape measure, and a metal-cutting saw.
3. Layout and marking- Use a laser level or plumb bob to establish accurate vertical and horizontal reference lines for the layout of the metal studs and tracks.
- Mark the layout lines on the floor, walls, and ceilings using a pencil or chalk line.
4. Framing details - Make sure you pay careful attention to framing details such as door and window openings, corners, and intersecting walls.
- Ensure they are properly framed and aligned according to the construction documents.
5. Quality control- Regularly check the alignment and squareness of the metal studs and tracks during installation.
- Conduct inspections to ensure proper fastening and adherence to construction standards.
6. Collaboration and communication- Lean on other trades involved in the project, such as electricians and plumbers, to ensure proper placement of openings and utilities within the metal stud walls.
- Communicate any design or installation issues promptly with the project team to avoid delays or rework.

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