What makes an ‘EQ20 gauge’ stud different from a standard 20 gauge stud?

usframefactory custom length steel studs What makes an 'EQ20 gauge' stud different from a standard 20 gauge stud?

An EQ stud (i.e EQ20 gauge), in steel framing, stands for “Equivalent” stud. It’s not a specific type of stud with unique characteristics, but rather a designation indicating that it meets the same performance requirements as a traditional stud, but with a thinner gauge. This is in the context of hanging drywall or other interior building finishes and not for any load bearing structural use. The most common type of EQ stud is a EQ20 gauge stud used drywall interior application.

Here’s a breakdown of the key points:

  • EQ: Stands for “Equivalent”.
  • Function: Meets the same performance standards as a traditional stud in terms of strength, stability, and deflection.(A EQ20 gauge studs performs the same as a 20 gauge stud in drywall handing applications)
  • Difference: Achieves the same performance with a thinner gauge(thinner metal), meaning it uses less material and is generally lighter and potentially more cost-effective.

EQ studs are made using advanced steel formulations and forming techniques to compensate for the reduced thickness. They are used in non-structural applications like interior walls, where maximizing vertical load-bearing strength isn’t a concern.

Why were EQ studs developed?

EQ studs were developed in the early 2000s, with many companies creating proprietary brands such as ProSTUD, ViperStud, Superstud’s The Edge, and SCAFCO Supreme Steel Framing System. We have our own, simply called Drywall Metal Studs. This development aimed to save material by using a more material-efficient product that was still adequate for drywall framing.

A true 20-gauge stud is 33 mils thick (one-thousandth of an inch). While an EQ 20-gauge stud could be anywhere from 18 to 23 mils thick, making EQ 20 studs 30-45% thinner. These studs also have unique features not found on structural metal studs. These features include:

  • Knurling so screws don’t slide off the stud.
  • Ridges to also allow for screws not to slip off of the stud
  • Planking ridges so studs don’t get stuck together when stacked in each other
  • Web stamped patterns added to increase stiffness
  • Return lips to reduce sharp edges
Drywall Metal Studs: Non-Structural Metal Framing Knurling and Rib/Ridge Technology
A Stud with Knurling on the flange
What makes an 'EQ20 gauge' stud different from a standard 20 gauge stud?
EQ20 Gauge stud with stamped web patterns

Pros and Cons, when should I use an EQ20 gauge stud instead of a structural 20 gauge stud?

There are a few pros to using EQ 20-gauge studs over true structural 20-gauge studs. Here are some of the advantages:

  • Lighter: EQ studs are 30-45% lighter than their structural counterparts, making them easier to carry around the jobsite.
  • Cheaper: EQ studs are cheaper because they use less metal than true-gauge studs.
  • Easier to cut: EQ metal studs can easily be cut with tin snips/aviation snips, while structural studs often require an abrasive chop saw.

There are also a few disadvantages when comparing EQ 20-gauge with true 20-gauge studs:

  • Screw pullout/spin out: True 20-gauge studs are thicker than EQ studs (33 mils as opposed to 18 or 23 mils). This means your drywall screws will hold better in 20-gauge studs and be less likely to spin out.
  • Less galvanization: Usually, EQ studs are made with G40 galvanization, less than the standard G60 for structural studs. This could be an issue in high-humidity or corrosive seaside areas. Miami-Dade building codes require G90 on all studs.
  • Less structure for blocking: While EQ studs are perfect for hanging drywall, there may be issues when applying wood blocking to hold up appliances. You’re increasing the surface load, and structural studs are a better bet if you want to successfully support things like toilets, heavy shelving, TVs, and lighting.
What makes an 'EQ20 gauge' stud different from a standard 20 gauge stud?
EQ20 Gauge studs in conjunction with wood blocking being used in a hotel

Cost differences between EQ studs and regular studs

A standard 3-5/8″ EQ stud(362S125-23) is $0.61 per linear ft. While the lightest structural stud you can buy from us right now is a 3-5/8″ 20 gauge stud(362S162-33) which is $0.98 per linear ft. So in general EQ studs are anywhere from 30-40% cheaper than their structural counterparts.

Where to buy?

We here at US Frame Factory ship metal studs all through the US and even into South America & the Caribbean. Contact sales to place your order.

Additional Recourses

Structural Metal Studs

Metal Stud Manufacturing: Light-gauge steel roll-forming

Metal Stud Nomenclature for framing in North America

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