Anchoring Into Metal Studs

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Verdeboy

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I was at my brother's house recently, and he asked me to mount a pool cue rack on one of his basement walls.

Turns out he has metal studs. I screwed the mounting brackets into these metal studs using sheet metal screws, but they didn't feel very secure. The only other thing I could think of was to drill completely through the wall and use nuts and bolts.

Is there some proven technique for anchoring into these things?
 

Basement_Lurker

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A self-tapping screw will work, although some guys say that drywall screws work pretty well as well (they just double them up when they need to hold something heavy). I haven't anchored anything to a steel stud yet as they are only starting to catch on in commercial construction now, but if it were me, I'd probably try a self-tapping screw, and if that failed, I would resort to using a toggle bolt to get the job done.
 

Frenchie

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I run into that a lot - all new construction is metal studs, here.

I use drywall anchors a lot. My favourite line of products:

http://www.toggler.com/products.html

Their toggle bolt is particularly nice, because you don't need a huge hole. I install them through the face of the stud, so the toggle's resting against the back of that layer of sheetmetal...

As a side note: a jagged hole will leads to all kinds of awkwardness placing the toggle. Most studs are 20 or 25 gauge, the metal will tear before it cuts if you're not careful. Don't ever use a wood bit.


If it's really really heavy, like a kitchen cabinet, I open up the wall and install blocking.
 

Geniescience

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drywall screws come in two types, one for wood studs and one for metal. if you are going into studs. self-tapping is good too. the screws made for metal have a smaller distance between threads. otherwise you want toggle or drywall anchors, which don't depend on studs.

david
 

jadnashua

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www.wingits.com makes some really nice anchors. Keep them in mind if you are in need of a safety bar in the tub/shower and you didn't think about blocking in advance. Their utility versions work quite well, too. Better support than a toggle bolt.
 

Verdeboy

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Thanks.

I'm just wondering what's wrong with wood studs? I'm sure the metal ones won't rot, but they also potentially conduct electricity--which can't be a good thing. I guess there must be some additional grounding needed?
 

Frenchie

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In NYC, it's because they're fireproof.

For me, it's because they're cheaper, a lot easier to haul, a lot faster to install... just generally easier & faster to work with.

Caveat: once you learn how. I hated them, at first.


There's no grounding or bonding requirement that I know of.

But since all wiring here is BX... the studs are in contact with the sheathing every time it goes through a stud. So I guess the framing actually is grounded, if only by accident.
 

AZ Contractor

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But since all wiring here is BX... the studs are in contact with the sheathing every time it goes through a stud. So I guess the framing actually is grounded, if only by accident.

Dang! I always wondered why they weren't grounded and never thought of that. Good call.
 

Frenchie

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Well, not really. In other places, they wire with NM & use protective gaskets on the cutouts so's to not damage the wire. So those walls wouldn't be grounded.

Even the walls here... it's not like anything's actually securing the BX housing to the framing.


Why would you need to ground framing, anyways?


There's plenty of steel connection plates & hurricane straps & such in any modern wood building; I don't see anyone wondering if those should be bonded & grounded...
 

AZ Contractor

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It was just something I wondered about and something you said.

Why would you need to? I don't know. Why wouldn't you need to? I don't know that either.

You comparison with metal connectors and wood framing is not a good comparison. Metal, steel stud framing, is a good conductor of electricity and wood isn't.

Some electrician chime in and tell us why steel stud framing doesn't have to be grounded.
 

Frenchie

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Come on, you know what I meant - of course wood isn't a good conductor, but if you're coastal, there's still a whole lotta metal in the mix.

I think we'd need a new thread, in the electrical forum, to get an electrician's input. They tend not to wander into other sub-forums. I'll post one.
 
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Verdeboy

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In NYC, it's because they're fireproof.

That's what concerns me much more than whether or not it is grounded. Doesn't the tensile strength of the steel go way down during a fire, resulting in catastrophic failure, e.g, the WTC towers collapsing?
 

Verdeboy

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Maybe I'm wrong in my thinking. But if there's a fire, at least you know with wood that the area that is not burning is solid. With metal, isn't it possible that the whole structure can collapse at once just from the heat? So, even if the fire is isolated to one part of the building, nowhere is safe.
 

jadnashua

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Drywall doesn't really support much of a fire. Steel studs aren't combustible. Drywall ceiling, pretty safe. What's to burn? Now, if you happen to fly a plane into the structure, a fuel fire puts all bets off. Otherwise, typical furniture and maybe the flooring might burn.

If the structure gets hot enough after burning through the walls, it's pretty much toast, and because the stud is held to the wall covering with multiple screws, it is not going to just fall apart. Wood flashes to burning at something over 700-degrees (if I remember), while steel takes nearly 2000 to melt, and while it may lose its temper lower, it's still pretty strong.

Metal studs come in different weights depending on whether they are load bearing or not. Personally, I'd go with them on new construction - you'll have a chance of a straight wall that won't warp under normal circumstances. Having the cutouts for utilities already there is a plus, and snap-in grommets protect things along the way.
 

Markts30

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Plumbing is also a snap - stud punches and hold-tites keep the pipe from moving and eliminate hammer...
Love working in metal studs (plus no chance of charring the surface of the stud on hard to reach solder joints...LOL)
 

Verdeboy

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Drywall doesn't really support much of a fire. Steel studs aren't combustible. Drywall ceiling, pretty safe. What's to burn? Now, if you happen to fly a plane into the structure, a fuel fire puts all bets off. Otherwise, typical furniture and maybe the flooring might burn.

So, I guess the only down side to them is electrocution.
 

Frenchie

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Which can be prevented easily - like Mike said on the other thread - if you use metal boxes, the framing's grounded.

After that story Chris posted, though... if I lived somewhere the code doesn't call for metal boxes, I'd be checking for stray voltage a lot.
 
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