If you're thinking of making the switch from wood to metal studs on your next framing job, you'll find that manufacturers have done their best to make the transition a relatively straightforward and logical one. The metal equivalents roughly match the size of the dimensional lumber -- and are lighter, straighter and more uniform.
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Made from cold-formed steel, metal studs form a squared-C shape, with two short flanges flanking a long face called a web. The flange of metal studs measures 1 5/8 inches, slightly larger than the narrow face of a nominal piece of 2-inch dimensional lumber, which in modern times really measures 1 1/2 inches. A stud with a web size, or long face, of 3 1/2 inches is termed a 350S and takes the place of a two-by-four. A 600S metal stud measures 6 inches on its web, or long face. Thus a metal stud taking the place of a two-by-four measures 1 5/8 by 4 inches, and a two-by-six, 1 5/8 by 6 inches -- slightly fatter but the same depth as their wood equivalents.
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Because they maintain the C shape of the 350S and 600S, the metal equivalents of two-by-eights and two-by-tens are also called studs, although their wood equivalents would likely be termed joists or rafters. The 800S and 1000S, respectively, replace the two-by-eight and the two-by-ten, and maintain the flange size of 1 5/8 inches. These larger metal studs can, in fact, be used as structural elements, such as joists and rafters.