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Metal Stud Framing Technique

Doug Berthon

Metal studs are used extensively in commercial and residential construction. Different techniques are used to install metal studs compared to wood studs. The obvious difference between metal and wood studs is how they are fastened (screws vs. nails), but the differences do not end there.

Building Walls

Snap a chalk line on the floor where you want the wall. Transfer the line on the floor to the ceiling above with a laser level or plumb bob. Attach the bottom and top track to the floor and ceiling with 1-1/4-inch drywall screws. If the floor is concrete, drill a 1/4-inch hole and drive in a nail-in anchor. With a permanent marker, lay out your studs on 16-inch centers. You may want to mark the center of the studs, instead of the edges as in wood framing, because metal studs are only 1-1/4 inches wide. Measure the distance between the bottom and top track and cut studs that are 1/2 inch shorter. Light-gauge studs can be cut with tin snips, but if you have a lot of studs to cut, use a saw designed for that purpose. Once the studs are cut, clamp them in place and screw them in with 1/2-inch metal stud screws.


Corners are not built like wood corners. An intersecting wall is cut 3/4 inch short so that the drywall can slip past the inside corner. Then the first stud (called a slip stud) of the adjoining wall is shoved up tight to the drywall and screwed through the stud and drywall into the corner stud.

Framing for Doors and Windows

Doors and windows are framed the same way, except windows have a top and bottom header. Doors only have a top header. Place two metal studs on each side of the rough opening and attach each of them to the top and bottom track with four screws. Measure the distance between your door opening and add four inches. Cut a piece of track that length. This is your header. Measure in two inches on one end of the track, snip the legs of the track and bend it back 90 degrees. Measure from the 90-degree bend and place a mark equal to the width of the rough opening, snip the legs, and bend it back 90 degrees. Screw the header horizontally to the studs with 1/2-inch steel stud screws. Now, fill in the short studs above the door and attach each stud to the top track and header with four screws. Place two on the bottom and two on the top of each stud.