Are Metal Studs Required for Commercial Buildings?

Published Categorized as Building Materials
Metal Stud Framing in Commercial Space

Although metal studs today are synonymous with commercial buildings, it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that it caught on as a framing material for commercial buildings. What’s more, metal studs had to be obtained from specialty building supply outlets until more recently when they became available at standard outlets for construction workers.

Metal studs aren’t required for commercial buildings, but due to their benefits and specific requirements per the International Building Code, they’ve become a more popular choice. Cost, ease of construction, availability, and design constraints determine whether a builder uses metal or wood studs.

Still, while many commercial buildings have metal studs as their main interior structural component, they may also use wood for portions of the building. This article will cover the numerous benefits that metal studs offer and explain why this type of stud is commonly being placed in recently built commercial buildings.

6 Reasons Why Metal Studs Are Used for Commercial Buildings

Stud framing is a fundamental part to consider for any traditional or modern constructed building. Studs can help form the interior and exterior corners, including intersecting walls, windows, and the overall framework of a building. Studs are usually connected to hold all the necessary fixtures in place.

Metal stud wall framing is an excellent choice for commercial building construction companies and has been a standard in commercial construction across the United States. As it turns out, according to the Steel Framing Alliance, more than 40 percent of commercial structures built in the past decade have been made with metal studs in place of wood studs.

Let’s take a look at the many functional advantages metal studs can provide versus wood studs.

Metal Reduces Flammable Material in Commercial Buildings

The International Building Code (IBC) has five different construction types in its manual. Each construction type is associated with additional fire protection requirements, procedures, and allowable use of combustible materials. Wood framing is permitted in some aspects of all five construction types.

However, in select construction types, exterior walls are required to be non-combustible material. When looking at the materials associated with framing, wood tends to burn at a faster rate. However, metal studs are more resilient in fire resistance, with the ability to reduce the amount of flammable material compared to wood.

Metal Provides Durable Quality for the Long Haul

Metal studs tend to be more durable than wood studs as metal isn’t as pliable as wood. Metal studs are straight and can be more sturdy due to their solid surface. Over time, the elements can affect wood, causing it to absorb moisture, grow mold, warp, twist, tear, and even rot, requiring it to be replaced quicker.

On the other hand, metal isn’t liable to these elements as it doesn’t get affected by moisture and humidity. Studs made of metal allow the material to remain straight and sturdy longer than a wood stud. The durability of metal stud construction can stand up to severe winds and other weather conditions.

Metal Can Be Lightweight for Construction Workers To Handle and Store

In comparison to wood, metal studs are lighter in weight because they are hollow on the inside. Having this lightweight material makes metal studs easier to carry for construction crew than lumber. Metal’s concave shape also takes up less space than wood.

Metal Is Cost-Effective in Commercial Projects

Interestingly, the price of metal studs can be similar to wood. However, the cost of metal is relatively stable as wood tends to fluctuate up and down. Metal studs can also be recycled and release fewer emissions during creation, so it’s better for the environment.

Metal Studs Are Easier To Install

Metal studs are easier to work with and handle due to their lightweight nature. They’re attached with screws and can permanently be removed, changed, or moved as necessary.

An added benefit for works handling metal studs is if cutting is needed, there’s no dust versus when cutting wood studs. So if metal studs come with holes for electrical wiring or need to be created, it’s a more accessible lift than a wood version.

Metal Is Resistant to Termites and Insects

Wood tends to attract termites, ants, and other insects that can eat away the structure. However, metal studs are termite-resistant and eliminate the need for any form of pest control.

Metal Studs Vs. Wood Studs for Commercial Buildings

Metal studs versus wood studs in commercial construction is a debate that’s still alive and well. However, more new commercial properties are being built with metal studs. Metal stud wall construction is used in almost all office and commercial construction projects instead of wood. However, wooden studs are typically used to build houses due to their stack frame layout.

Wood studs have their benefits and drawbacks. Interestingly, wood studs are more potent and can support more weight without being compromised than hollow, metal studs.

However, as previously mentioned, wood studs are more expensive than steel and can be more complex to install than the metal studs screw method. Furthermore, wood is prone to moisture and can rot or warp, compromising the entire building framework.

Although wood has some benefits, if the wood is being used in commercial buildings, it’s best to use it for non-load bearing interior framing and metal studs for more main structural components.


For commercial buildings and properties, metal stud framing can be a more durable basis for a building’s structure versus other materials. Notably, the framing techniques for metal studs are similar to wood stud construction, as they both carry the exact basic dimensions.

Not only are metal studs more substantial and more environmentally friendly than their wooden counterparts, they also support load-bearing walls, interior walls, and exterior walls. Plus, they’re standard across most commercial properties.

The benefits of metal studs are generally better for commercial building projects as they’re durable, lightweight, fire-resistant, and less likely to warp over time.


By Giovanni Valle

Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.

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