Will my stud finder still work?
March 18, 2021 6:06 AM   Subscribe

We're planning to finish our basement this year and our contractor mentioned that wood studs are expensive right now, so they'll give us a price for metal studs. Is there a downside to using metal?

Obviously we'll be talking this over with our contractor as well but I want some outside perspectives. Will this cause problems later, for instance when we want to hang heavy things?
posted by Tehhund to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Have you read introductory pieces ilke this one?

Or are you already familiar with the basics, and asking for some more-technical answers? (I don't have the latter, myself.)

I would want to think about the level of moisture in my basement, for starters. Is yours dry?
posted by wenestvedt at 6:17 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]

If they're referring to cold-formed light metal framing (of this type) then there is effectively no downside, assuming your contractor is competent (thermal bridging needs to be handled well). I wish my house were framed with them, personally (no termite risk). You can screw into them just fine -- nails are an issue, but you shouldn't be hanging things with nails anyway. Major support elements are hard to screw into, but in a basement framing situation you're probably not using any steel of that gauge (unless they're also shoring up your house).

Moisture won't be a problem in twice your lifetime, unless we're talking quite a lot of water -- enough that wood would be a terrible idea as well. Like, enough that your house should perhaps be demolished and rebuilt.
posted by aramaic at 7:20 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]

I know nothing about metal studs, but would having them or a lot of them cause any interference in say a wifi signal?
posted by AugustWest at 7:24 AM on March 18

I know nothing about metal studs, but would having them or a lot of them cause any interference in say a wifi signal?

Not really. Wifi runs at 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequencies, where the wavelengths are abound 5 inches and 2 inches respectively. For a metal cage to be efffective at blocking radio signals, the holes in it need to be smaller than the wavelength of the signals.

Wifi should get through the floor between the house and the basement. For anything transmitted from outside the house (radio/TV etc) you're not going to get much reception of anything in a basement anyway. It's literally surrounded by ground.
posted by automatronic at 7:40 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]

I live in a house with steel studs, and I do not have trouble with my wifi or phone signals.

In case it matters, the studs in my house are 24 inches on center, not 16 inches which is standard. I don't know if this meets building code in most areas, but may certainly affect the cost of your remodel.
posted by MyTwoCentsToo at 7:55 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]

Steel studs is a common and reasonable substitute for internal framing, especially basements.

Note that if you know that you wanna hang some heavy stuff off of some walls, you might want to consider paying extra to layer some plywood backing in those areas.
posted by ovvl at 9:03 AM on March 18

I've been researching steel studs for a possible basement reno as well, and I think you need more than plywood if you're going to hang something like a TV. The videos I've seen recommend attaching wood 2x4s as cross-bracing for those areas that need to hold more weight. Bathroom fixtures, door jambs, and window frames get wood framing as well.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:20 AM on March 18

The vast majority of commercial and institutional spaces in Canada have framing with steel studs for partition walls. Things like wifi aren't going to be effected in any way vs wood.

Hanging stuff isn't really much harder than with wood studs. Even with wood studs it is a good idea to install blocking for specific known loads. Gyrrop with proper anchors can support a couple hundred pounds in shear. You can use toggles right on the steel studs for extra strength.
posted by Mitheral at 3:04 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]

Regarding adding ply for hanging heavy things, you’d need the in wall blocking for hanging heavy things with wood studs too. There is effectively no difference for you if your GC wants to use metal studs, though I am surprised they are saying they are less expensive than wood as all the GCs I work with are saying metal studs are also expensive right now. They could be right though, markets vary a lot regionally.
posted by annie o at 7:15 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]

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