Wood or Metal Studs?

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Posted by: from Mississauga
10/6/2011 at 5:03:37 PM

What are your thoughts on metal or wood studs for exterior basement walls?

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Date/Time10/7/2011 at 12:45:00 AM

Basments are inherently damp. Wood doesn't rust. It's a no-brainer.

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Date/Time10/7/2011 at 7:46:17 AM

More importantly, wood conducts cold less than metal, so the cool temperature behind the studs will be less likely to travel inwards towards your finishes basement. Hen this happens you often see vertical dark lines of discoration where each stud is. This is caused by condensation on your drywall. Use wood to minimize this.


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Date/Time10/7/2011 at 1:48:33 PM

Hi Michael,

Definitely wood for me as well. I have seen far too many rusted out metal frames in my time in this business to ever trust metal in a basement. Save yourself the agrivation and go with wood.

Bill Clawsie

Clawsie Contracting


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Date/Time10/10/2011 at 9:55:04 PM

Hi Michael, I can't disagree with anyone's comments as they do sound like well thought out and experienced responses. I have used both but for metal, you have to be absolutely sure that the basement is high and dry, and there is very little likelihood of future leaks. If that is the case, you can use metal with a couple of tweaks. The main thing you want to do is eliminate any metal to concrete contact. On the floor, a PT plate on a sill gasket, followed by the track keeps the metal (and wood) off the concrete. Ensure the plate is far enough from the wall to allow a gap between the studs and the wall. this will allow you to insulate behind the studs and create a thermal break - this is the same as wood construction. If you are using batt insulation, the first thing up should be a breathable vapour barrier (reversed house wrap) so the insulation has a chance to dry out from behind if it gets a little condensation. I would recommend going with a rock wool insulation instead of fiberglass as it is not affected by moisture and is fireproof. You can also put rigid foam up behind the studs instead of the house wrap but it needs to be (I think) 1 1/2"+ and all seams taped to be an effective vapour barrier. An R13 batt in front of that will give you about R20 and a nice , warm basement. If you are using spray foam, just frame with a space behind the studs to allow the foam to expand and create the thermal break. No vapour barrier necessary. The job we did used a 2X4 plate, 1/2" from the wall, with 2 1/2" metal framing and 3 1/2" spray foam. This gave us a 1 1/2" thermal break and added a considerable amount of strength and rigidity to the metal when it expanded and encapsulated the studs as well as a true R20+ and a really tight basement. It also did a great job up between the floor joists.

Good Luck with whatever you choose!

Jim Kuzma

Kettleby Handyman Services

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Date/Time10/17/2011 at 8:35:01 PM

Jim from Kettleby has covered it all I think! A few additional factors that I would add to his is that at times even the drywall screws tend to transmit the cold to the very surface of the drywall. And when installing in a relatively cool envirenment the drywall mud does not dry at the same rate over the screw locations due to this fact. I have seen installers try to rush over that aspect only to find a disappointing result once paint gets applied. Another fact is that many installers will use a 24" spacing (usually to cut costs) rather than the 16" sapcing used by most thus creating a lot of flex in the wall's where the lumber will provide a more rigid frame. I personally feel that wood is a prefered method when building in the basement even if the space is found to be dry. Consider if ever a flood due to a washing machine spill or drain back up etc... occurs the lumber tends to recover yet the metal tends to fail more often.

Good luck to all.

Marian Fill

CharMar Construction Force Ltd.

Morinville, AB.

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