7th Dec 2022 -

The most common type of stud wall, especially within the commercial sector, is metal framed stud and track. There are a huge number of construction projects that involve the use of metal stud walls, which usually come in the form of a new partitioned wall within an existing structure. Wall partitions help to create a space within an existing space, so they are ideal for dividing up larger areas. Using metal stud framing systems means you get excellent support, ideal for plasterboarding, insulation and many other decorating or building materials.

What is a Metal Stud Wall Used For?

Although metal stud wall partitions are strong, they are not load-bearing. As steel studs work to create a strong wall, stud partitions that use metal framing methods are excellent for hard-wearing environments, such as the following:

  • Commercial: Metal stud framing in office spaces is typically done with steel vertical studs, as well as various layers of insulation and plasterboard. Metal stud walls also help support suspended ceilings in many businesses.
  • Residential: Although the internal walls of a residential room are often built using a timber frame, most of the partitions between units will use metal frames. This is particularly true in high-rise flats, where professional plasterboard fixings and dry lining materials are in use.
  • Industrial: Factories, food processing plants, distribution centres and other industrial spaces rely on metal stud walls for their partitioned rooms, as there is often excess heat, chemical use and other activity. A timber stud wall will not work as well in this setting, as they are likely to be affected by rot or warping.

The plasterboards you use in a metal frame system are usually the same size plasterboards that you see in a timber partition wall. However, you may also choose some thicker forms of insulation, such as those containing PIR foam.

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What are the Benefits of a Metal Stud Wall vs a Wood Stud Wall?

The pros and cons of metal stud walls will probably decide what building materials are best for your new partition wall frame. Some plasterboards are heavy simply because of their density and size, so might need a sturdier frame - but it is not just strength that you need to consider.

Remember that although metal is stronger and more suitable for commercial spaces, metal walls are not hundreds of times stronger than wood and they may only provide a small strength increase. So, the durability of metal is not the be-all and end-all.

The advantages that metal stud walls have over timber framing can include the following:

  • Rot: Steel studs will never rot, although in some cases such as chemical or water damage, they may corrode. Metal framing is also fully resistant to problems with termites, which can cause a big problem when they spread. 
  • Warping and bowing: Wood may never bow or warp, but it has the potential to do so, especially if damage occurs from undetected moisture or vapour. Metal studs remove the prospect of this happening.
  • Fire protection: Metal stud frames have the edge here. When it comes to fire protection metal walls are non-combustible materials, however, fire boards can still protect wood frames for a specific period of time.

Both timber and steel are relatively low-cost materials with which to build your frame, so there is no real edge in terms of the overall price. As a result, the choice of whether to use wood or metal studs is not usually dictated by your budget.

What are the Dimensions of Metal Stud Walls? 

The dimensions of metal stud walls are similar to those of timber stud walls. 

Metal studs typically come in thicknesses of 50mm to 75mm. However, it is possible that after building the frame your wall is thicker when you do the following:

  1. Add your insulation 
  2. Incorporate electrical work
  3. Merge plumbing and pipework
  4. Fix plasterboards to the frame
  5. Decorate the boards

The good thing for those worried about adhering to a certain thickness is that the Building Regulations of the UK do not demand a precise thickness - this applies when you are building both timber and metal stud wall systems.

Metal stud walls in a new build property

What Are the Components of a Metal Stud Wall Frame?

Now that we are getting into the nitty-gritty of metal stud walls, you will see how different they are from timber. There are slightly different parts in a metal stud frame than a timber framing system - but they do operate on a similar principle. 

Typically the main difference between wood and metal studs is the framing terminology, which not only uses a completely different material but also a lot of other extra components.

The main components of a metal stud wall include the following:

  • C StudsThese metal C-shaped components are the main metal studs of the wall and are fixed into the wall channel track.
  • Channel TrackSimilar to the floor plate in a timber frame - channel tracks are used to secure vertical studs along the base of the wall.
  • I StudsThese metal I-shaped studs allow for greater partition height without expanding any partitioning width.
  • Resilient Bars: These are used to optimise sound performance in metal walls, as well as in suspended ceilings - sound is a problem with metal walls.
  • U StudUsing U-shaped metal sections you can fix the studs to the floor and ceiling - similar to the top plate in a timber frame. 

There may be other components necessary for a completely safe and high-performing wall, such as when you are fixing a metal frame directly to a masonry wall. However, for most partitions, these are the main parts of the framing system.

What Are the Costs for Metal Stud Walls?

Overall, the costs of a metal stud wall are quite low - comparable to timber in most cases. Of course, costs depend entirely on your project’s scale, the type of plasterboards you use and the final decoration you apply to the completed wall. Both timber and stud walls are considered to be low-cost construction methods. Explore our range of metal and timber studs to get an idea of the current pricing.

Top Tips on How to Build a Metal Stud Wall More Easily

The following tips will help you in the construction of the framing system and when fixing the plasterboards to your new metal stud wall:

  1. Beware of mechanical fixings: Fixings for timber are not useful in metal frame systems, you need to use screws or self-expanding bolts. We recommend getting a good-quality metal stud punch for faster work.
  2. Measure twice and cut once: You can cut steel a bit more easily than you can cut metals such as iron, as sheets are quite thin. However, you should invest in a quality pair of tin snips and always measure twice for accuracy.

One of the biggest tips for speeding up a metal stud wall construction project is getting an installation kit - these kits also include all necessary screws and fixings.

British Gypsum, a high-quality plasterboard manufacturer, makes a well-known metal stud wall installation kit called ‘GypWall Classic’.

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A metal stud wall is a common construction method used in partitioning and is useful for creating partitions in larger buildings, notably commercial or industrial spaces. Metal stud partition walls are non-load bearing but will support a bit more weight than a timber partition. We stock a huge range of metal studs and tracks on our website, ready for UK delivery.

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