How to Fasten Wood Members to Steel Beams

During remodeling it is often necessary to attach wood members to steel beams.

Attaching Wood to Steel

The main purpose for attaching wood directly to steel is to secure walls and to build a framework for drywall, trim or other finish wall coverings. Basements are especially known for their metal posts and beams, and knowing how to attach wood members to them while remodeling is a necessary skill. .

Load a strip of charges or a single charge into the powder-actuated tool. A powder-actuated tool is a nail gun powered by a gun powder-filled charge that looks similar to a 22-caliber round without the bullet on the end. The most common charges used are red, yellow and green coded shells (different brands vary in colors). A red-coded charge is stronger than a green-coded charge. Each powder-actuated tool is a little different, but most often the charges are slid into the handle or another single shot entry point. Refer to your owners manual for the specifics of your gun.

Ready the powder-actuated tool by briskly pulling and extending the end of the barrel and returning it to its normal position. (Keep your hand close to the end to keep your fingers from being pinched.)

Load a steel pin into the powder-actuated tool by sliding it in the end of the barrel until the plastic sleeve of the steel pin is fully in the barrel with the point exposed. The length of the nail should be the thickness of the wood plus the thickness of the steel and 1/4-inch for the point.

Hold the wood flat against the beam and press the powder-actuated tool firmly against the wood so that the spring-loaded end is completely compressed and pull the trigger. The tool will not fire unless the spring is completely compressed.

Things You Will Need

  • Powder-actuated tool
  • Metal pins (nails)


  • Start with a lighter charge and work up to the load that works best. Excessive charges may damage the tool.


  • Wearing safety glasses and hearing protection is very important. Powder-actuated tools are very loud and even louder when nailing into steel. Handle these guns as you would a firearm and keep others a safe distance from its line of fire.

About the Author

Doug Berthon is an enrolled agent and owns ProActive Tax & Accounting LLC. He earned his Bachelor of Science in accounting from Metropolitan University in St. Paul, Minn.