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Stud Wars: Wood or Metal?

Stud Wars: Wood or Metal?

Stud Wars: Wood or Metal?

In a galaxy where you can choose between wood studs or metal studs for framing your new construction, what do you pick? Which stud material is stronger? More resistant? More versatile? Which stud would you choose? There are so many variables to consider, that it’s hard to definitively say whether wood studs or metals studs are the best. To help you discern the best stud for your specific application, let’s compare some important qualities of both stud types:

RESISTANCE

  • Wood

    • Moisture buildup and termites will cause mold, rotting, and degradation
    • Wood is combustible
  • Metal

    • Metal will rust, requiring the installation of a vapor barrier or sill gasket between the bottom plate and the concrete floor
    • Zinc coating protects against corrosion
    • Metal is inflammable, but is also an active conductor of heat

STRENGTH

  • Wood

    • Susceptible to twisting and warping
    • Stronger than typical metals studs, allowing wood studs to be used with load-bearing walls, cabinets, and doorways
  • Metal

    • Uniformly manufactured product; very consistent quality
    • Loses strength at high temperatures
    • Doesn’t shrink or split
    • Metal’s strength and ductility is ideal for construction in areas that are subject to high winds or earthquakes

WEIGHT

  • Wood

    • Heavy
    • Energy codes are driving wood walls to be thicker to meet insulating standards
  • Metal

    • Hollow and Light; easier to stack and store in bulk
    • Easy to handle at ⅓ the weight of wood

USABILITY

  • Wood

    • Wood studs can be used in most instances of construction
    • Easier to cut and alter for custom sizes and applications
    • Less heat loss than metal studs
    • Readily available at locally owned and big box lumber stores
  • Metal

    • Metal studs are mostly used in basements, DIY partitions, and walls that are not load-bearing
    • Great for fire walls or water-prone bathrooms and basements
    • Easy to change, reposition, or remove when installed with screws
    • Metal studs generally come with holes for electrical wiring
    • Cutting metals studs can be difficult and hazardous

COST

  • Wood

    • Wood framing uses less expensive fasteners than metal framing
    • Initial costs may be lower due to labor cost differences
  • Metal

    • Insurance premiums may cost less because metal framing is inflammable, whereas wood is combustible
    • Requires less overall studs for framing because metal studs can be installed at 24” from the center, instead of only 16” with wood
    • Less scrap means lower disposal costs
    • Load-bearing walls require thicker, more expensive metal studs

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

  • Wood

    • Requires less energy to manufacture and transport
    • Environmentally-conscious builders often choose renewable wood studs
    • May contain chemicals, adhesives, and volatile organic compounds that may compromise air quality
    • More on-site waste with the diminishing quality of wood
  • Metal

    • Made from recycled material
    • 100% recyclable
    • Emits no volatile organic compounds

MOUNTABILITY

  • Wood

    • Great for any mounting any application
    • Wood stud spacing is 16” on center, which means more available studs to utilize
    • Our mounts with Stud Brace™ Technology are designed to specifically clamp around wood studs for a strong, reliable support; check out the Edisto Countertop Support Bracket and the Mackinac Vanity Support
  • Metal

    • Wood blocking between studs may be required for heavier objects to be mounted
    • Toggle bolts will help mounting to metal studs by distributing the supported weight across a larger area of the stud
    • Requires sharp-tipped screws with finer threads to penetrate and grip the metal stud
    • The Versa Bracket is a great choice for versatile mounting options with metal studs as long as you make sure to use appropriate fasteners

Which stud comes out on top? Honestly, it all depends. Temporary or small constructions in moisture-prone areas would probably benefit more from metal studs. A load-bearing wall with heavy cabinetry is likely going to want wood studs. Weigh your application against these qualities and you should arrive at the correct answer. May the stud be with you!

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