21st Jul 2023 -

Traditional retrofitting methods often involved intrusive and time-consuming procedures, causing disruption and generating high project costs. However, metal stud and track systems have emerged as a groundbreaking alternative that streamlines the retrofitting process. Engineered with precision and manufactured to exact specifications, these systems provide flexibility in accommodating various architectural designs and load-bearing requirements. 

Whether it is upgrading a wall, ceiling, or metal stud partition space, these systems offer an array of customisable options. This flexibility enables architects and engineers to revitalise existing structures. Plus, the properties of metal - such as its non-combustible nature and resistance to mould and pests - allow an added layer of safety and durability to retrofitted buildings. In this article, we explore how these cutting-edge systems open new possibilities in retrofitting, transforming old structures into modern, sustainable, and resilient spaces. 

What is retrofitting with metal studs and track systems?

The process of retrofitting metal studs and track systems typically involves a careful assessment of the existing structure. Design modifications are made to the metal studs layout or track assembly to meet the specific objectives of the retrofitting project. A retrofit with these systems can be necessary for various reasons.

  1. Structural changes: If your building undergoes renovations or changes in its layout, existing metal wall studs and track assemblies might need to be reconfigured to accommodate the new design.
  2. Improved performance: Retrofitting could involve incorporating new technology or materials to enhance the performance and efficiency of the metal track and stud system.
  3. Repairing damages: If you build a metal stud framing or track system which becomes damaged due to accidents or wear and tear, retrofitting may be required to restore its functionality.
  4. Addressing issues: Retrofitting can be adopted to rectify problems that have become apparent over time, such as settling, alignment issues, or improper installation.
  5. Upgrading building codes: As building codes and regulations evolve, existing structures may need to be brought up to current standards. Retrofitting can help ensure compliance with the updated codes.

How to integrate metal stud and track with plumbing and electrical systems

A metal stud and track system with various channels and brackets against a grey sky.

The integration of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems poses a significant challenge, especially when dealing with retrofitting projects that involve metal stud and track structures. Here are some top tips to help you tackle this complex issue.

1. Conduct a detailed site survey

Before you start the retrofitting process, thoroughly survey the existing structure to understand its limitations, strengths, and any potential obstacles that may impact the installation of MEP systems within the metal stud frame.

2. Collaborate with MEP specialists

Be sure to involve MEP specialists early in the planning stages. Their expertise can guide you in identifying the most suitable routes for electrical conduits, plumbing pipes, and HVAC ducts while working with metal framing constraints. 

3. Create an MEP layout plan

You should develop a comprehensive MEP layout plan that specifies the routing of all systems. For this plan, you should take into account clearance requirements, load-bearing walls, and other relevant factors. This plan will act as a blueprint for the installation process.

4. Select compatible systems and components

Make sure you opt for MEP systems and components that are a practical fit and compatible with metal stud structures. You will need to consider factors like weight, size, and ease of installation.

5. Minimise wall penetrations

Aim to minimise the number of wall penetrations required for MEP systems. You should also concentrate on running multiple systems within shared wall cavities where possible. This will help to reduce the impact on the metal stud structure.

6. Ensure adequate bracing and support

As metal studs may have different load-bearing capacities compared to traditional framing materials, you must ensure that the added weight and stress from MEP systems are adequately supported and braced.

7. Prioritise fire safety and building codes

It is crucial you put local building codes and fire safety regulations in place while integrating MEP systems with metal studs. Be sure to use fire-rated materials and maintain proper clearances between MEP components and the studs.

8. Pre-fabricate MEP components

Whenever possible, fix and assemble any MEP components off-site to ensure accuracy and efficiency during metal stud and track installation. This approach can save you time and reduce on-site disruptions.

9. Perform quality control checks

To give you some extra piece of mind during the installation process, you should conduct regular quality control checks to ensure that MEP systems are properly integrated into the metal stud framework. 

10. Involve contractors in the planning

For safety and expert guidance, it is a good idea to collaborate closely with contractors responsible for installing the MEP systems. These insights can help optimise the installation process and identify potential challenges early on.

What are the benefits of light gauge steel framing in retrofitting? 

Also commonly known as cold-formed steel framing, light gauge steel framing utilises thin sheets of steel to create lightweight structural components for buildings. These steel sheets typically range from 0.8mm to 3mm in thickness and are formed into various shapes and profiles through a process called cold forming, where the steel is bent and shaped without the use of heat. Light gauge steel framing offers several benefits in retrofitting projects. 

Lightweight and space-efficient

Light gauge steel is significantly lighter than traditional materials like wood or concrete, making it easier to handle and transport during retrofitting. It also allows for more efficient use of space, as the framing elements are smaller and can be fabricated off-site.

Strength and durability

Despite its lightness, steel is a strong and durable material which provides a high strength-to-weight ratio. This characteristic makes it suitable for reinforcing existing structures and enhancing their load-bearing capacity, especially in buildings with ageing materials.


Light gauge steel is non-combustible, which improves the fire safety of the retrofitting project. This is particularly important when working on structures that have flammable or sensitive materials, or in buildings where fire safety is a significant concern.

Resistant to pests and rot

Unlike timber, steel framing is not susceptible to pest infestations or rot. The resistance to biological degradation ensures that the retrofitting solution remains sturdy and reliable for an extended period.

Precision and consistency

Light gauge steel is manufactured with precision and consistency, ensuring that all the components fit together accurately during the retrofitting process. This helps to minimise construction errors and speed up the installation process.

Flexible design options

Light gauge steel allows for versatile design options, enabling creative solutions in retrofitting. It can be easily shaped and customised to meet specific structural requirements. This allows for complex designs and alterations to your existing building layout.

Compatibility with other materials

Light gauge steel can be easily integrated with other building materials, such as concrete, plasterboard and masonry. The compatibility allows for hybrid retrofitting solutions that combine the strengths of different materials for optimal structural performance.

Long-term cost savings

While the initial cost of light gauge steel framing may be higher than traditional materials, the durability and minimal maintenance requirements can lead to long-term cost savings. This makes it a cost-effective choice for retrofitting projects.

Can you retrofit metal stud and track without planning permission?

A metal stud and track system with various channels and brackets against a tall building and a cloudy sky.

Because retrofitting metal stud and track in existing buildings generally falls under "permitted development" in the UK, you can carry out certain minor works and alterations without the need for planning permission. But there are some considerations to take into account. 

  • Permitted development rights: Permitted development rights allow you to make certain changes to your property without obtaining planning permission. These rights are subject to specific limitations and conditions set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended. Read more about this through the UK Government’s Planning Portal website.
  • Listed buildings: For listed buildings and properties located in designated areas (such as conservation areas, national parks, etc.), the permitted development rights might be more restricted. In such cases, it is advisable for you to check with your local planning authority to confirm the scope of permitted development.
  • Structural changes: Permitted development rights typically cover non-structural interior alterations, including the installation of metal stud and track systems for non-load-bearing partition walls. Structural changes, such as removing load-bearing walls or altering the building's structure, would likely require planning permission.
  • Building regulations: While planning permission might not be necessary for certain interior alterations, compliance with building regulations is mandatory. Building regulations cover aspects like fire safety, insulation, soundproofing, and other safety standards. It is essential to ensure that the retrofitting work adheres to all relevant building regulations.

It is crucial to verify the current rules with your local planning authority or a qualified professional before proceeding with any retrofitting project. Make sure to contact your local council and consult with an architect or builder who knows the latest UK regulations. 

Metal steel frame building supplies with quick UK delivery

At Building Materials Nationwide, we take pride in offering a comprehensive range of high-quality metal stud and track products that cater to your needs. Our collection includes an extensive selection of metal studs, which are engineered for exceptional strength and stability. This ensures reliable framing solutions for interior and exterior walls. Plus, our track systems are designed to perfectly complement the studs, providing seamless integration and hassle-free installation. Whether you require standard dimensions or custom lengths, Building Materials Nationwide has got you covered. 

For trade customers, we provide a trade account service where you gain instant access to your own dedicated trade account manager. They provide personalised support with competitive trade pricing, help select the best tools and materials for any construction job. Also, they can arrange speedy delivery across the UK. You may also be eligible for a trade credit account. Give us a call to discuss your trade account options or spend 2 minutes signing up online.