Also known as “studs”, wall studs are vertical framing members that help create wall structures. Typically pieces of wood or metal, wall studs are a fundamental part of the construction process as they form the underlying structure of your home.
Wood studs are light, structural timber boards milled from softwood trees. After sawn and machine-planed to the standard dimensions of 2×4″, 2×6″, 2×8″, etc, they’re spaced 16 or 24 inches on center along the wall, running between the floor and ceiling. Drywall is typically attached to the edge of the studs to secure the wood-frame construction (when load-bearing walls and partitions, floor and roof constructions, and their supports, are all built of wood).
Steel studs are customizable, cold-formed steel components used to support non-load-bearing applications like interior walls, half-walls, and partitions. They are held into place by specially made tracks that are fastened to the top and bottom to secure steel-frame construction.
Wood studs are typically the most common in residential construction. However, due to a rise in lumber costs throughout the pandemic, there has been a growing popularity for steel studs. At Maronda, we use both wood and steel studs when producing our homes.
Wood studs are typically viewed as the most affordable option in home building as steel framing can cost 3-15% more. Despite the percentage spike, cost advantages in other areas help offset this price difference. For example, warranty callbacks are minimized because steel will not shrink, split, or warp like wood can. Also, a lot of steel studs are now made from recycled materials, which cut down costs when compared to disposable wood. Therefore, in the long run, steel studs can be more affordable and more economical than wood.
However, the economy continues to fluctuate on what is more affordable and more readily available. Maronda is constantly examining the state of the market and pivoting to ensure you get the most affordable option when it comes to building with wood or steel.
Steel studs offer more variation in length and width as metal can meet any size requirement. However, wood studs are easier and safer to cut, maintain, and repair. Furthermore, steel is lighter by nature and takes up half the space wood studs do because of its hollowed shape. This makes transportation and storage easier compared to wood.
Both wooden and metal studs can be difficult to install. Wooden studs require a lot of basic building tools, such as table saws, nailers, measuring tapes, levels, hammers, and nails. Most are readily available and easy to use in order to properly secure stud frames.
On the contrary, steel framing requires fewer, but more complex tools, such as a miter or circular saw equipped with metal-cutting blades. Since metal framing is not as popular as wood and requires more practice and patience, limited dimensions of studs and finding qualified vendors can slow the construction process.
Steel studs have a longer lifespan compared to wood studs as they are made of organic material. First, wood can twist, warp or rot when exposed to an over-excess of water or humidity. This makes wood studs harder to protect during wetter months and climates, or more prone areas within your home. On the other hand, steel studs are impenetrable to moisture, so not only do they work better in bathrooms and waterlogged basements, but overall they have better stability. Although metal is immune to moisture, in some instances it can rust, whereas wood cannot.
When it comes to insects and fire, carpenter ants or termites can damage wood and it can also burn easily if caught on fire. However, steel studs are more fireproof and rarely are affected by either. In all, both have a long lifespan if properly built and fireproofed.
Maronda Homes has been building quality new construction homes for 50 years now. Not only do we consistently offer top-tier, innovative floor plans in some of the best cities on the East Coast, we are also constantly evaluating the market to ensure the smoothest and most affordable experience for each and every homebuyer.