We’ve been asked by a number of clients how to size and build with metal studs a few times. While it’s always good to go with an engineered design there are tables that can help us size metal stud members based on a wealth of existing data out there. In fact, many of the engineers use these metal framing tables all the time for reference.
Naming of steel studs
Refer to this image from buildsteel.org
ClarkDetrick has a page with a plethora of good tables. Specifically, I like the joists section which allowed us at US FrameFactory to understand the limits of our steel roll former. Joists are the floor members of a building. In our first build, we used 600S162-43, i.e 6″ 18 gauge studs, 16″ on center. With a quick look at the table, I can see the maximum span we could use is 14′ 9″.
Using the table goes as such, find your metal studs, look at your on center spacing to see what the allowable limit is. For us we were using a 600S162-43 with 16″ on center spacing. As you can see we can go 14′ 9″ this is an allowable max span with the deflection under control. Assuming a dead load of 10psi(the weight of the floor) and L/360 is the when the 20psi (live load) is applied we can expect it to defect length in inches/360. So In our case(10′ i.e 120″ it would’ve deflected 120/360 so about 1/3″. This is designed for the maximum load with factors of safety, it’s very unlikely that it would ever deflect that much.
When sizing your joists on the US Frame Factory shopping portal make sure you look at the end to see the steel size.
Header and other standards.
The American Iron and steel Insitute has a great deep dive into box beam design and web stiffeners. There are two types of headers, L headers, and Box Headers. They discuss the advantages of each one starting on page 32.
I like the attached file below for a table on how to size metal stud headers. See page 79 where how to size header spans begin.
While this is by no means comprehensive or a good replacement for engineering, these guides are a good starting point when taking on smaller projects.