Can You Use Metal Studs to Build a Mobile Home?


I love tiny houses and mobile homes, I have designed a lot of these kinds of houses and I have thought about how I would build one of my own when the opportunity comes, because most of the tiny houses and mobile homes are built in a traditional way with a wooden structure, it has crossed my mind to build a tiny house with metal studs.

You can build a tiny mobile home with metal studs, this type of vertical piece is very often used in traditional constructions, and due to the fact that it is a less heavy material than wood, it is in fact a suitable material for mobile homes.

As for mobile or manufactured homes, it should be remembered that they are regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) building code.

State building code, which may vary depending on the city or region where the constriction is located, studs for HUD code site-built homes are typically constructed with 2×3″ or 2×4″ lumber and spaced at 16″ or 24″, these studs are framed at 16″ or 24″.

The main attraction of building a tiny house or mobile home with metal studs is that the structure built with this type of material is less dense than wood and therefore the weight of the house is much less.

Considering that mobile homes are designed with the idea of being able to be moved to different locations, the weight of the house is an aspect that may be of concern to many.

But, as much as building with metal studs has its advantages, there are also several important aspects to consider when making the decision to build with metal studs.

Why make a mobile home with metal studs?

The reasons why to choose metal studs for a project can be very subjective, but among the most common cases, many people choose to build with metal studs because wood is much more expensive, apart from the fact that metal studs create a strong and lightweight structure.

Metal studs are easier to purchase, do not require pre-drying, and are much easier to handle due to their low weight, are not susceptible to moisture damage or insect attack, nor are they flammable.

What to consider before building a mobile home with metal studs?

Although metal stud framing can be considered traditional and acceptable for mobile homes and tiny houses, there are a few things to consider before making the decision to use metal studs as a wall structure.

Take into account the climate of the environment

If you decide to build a mobile home with a metal stud structure, you must take into account the climatic conditions of the area or city where you will spend most of your time.

One of the few disadvantages that have the construction system with metal studs is not very energy efficient, this is due to its high conductivity of temperatures, this phenomenon that has the metal to transmit heat or cold is called the thermal bridge.

Although with metal studs, as with wood studs, you can use insulating filler material between the gaps to act as insulation, the 4 cm width of the metal studs is sufficient for thermal bridging to occur.

In this sense, houses built with wood studs are much more energy-efficient than those built with metal studs.

In cold and humid places, you may experience the problem of condensation forming on the studs, and because of the steel could rust, you will need a moisture barrier.

Consider the accumulation of snow on the roof

Many mobile homes and tiny house constructions with pitched roofs, when made with metal studs, also make the roofs with metal rafters.

The number of loads that the roof could bear should be taken into account, especially in areas where a lot of snow accumulates on the roof.

A roof can support 5 pounds (2.3 kg) per square foot of roofing. However, the maximum snow load can be up to 4 feet (1.2 m) before the roof is overstressed, For this, the number of trusses, the gauge of metal to be used, and the slope of the roof must be carefully considered.

Reinforcing metal studs

In some cases, it is necessary to reinforce the walls created with metal studs with a few wood planks, this can be done, for example, in door openings and some walls where it is planned to hang considerably heavy objects.

Storm safety

Depending on the area where you build, the mobile home must be built to withstand storms and winds that can even exceed 100 mph, in houses with metal studs, this must be analyzed and the structure reinforced since metal is lighter than wood.

Elements in the design of the house must be aligned

In the metal stud construction method known as Steel Frame, the structure is composed of galvanized steel profiles that are modulated (separated from each other) every 40 cm.

Under this construction system, loads are distributed between all the studs, so that the elements that transmit and support the loads must be aligned.

Inline framing, i.e. the roof beams support the weight of the roof and must be aligned with the studs so that the load travels along the beam, the stud receives it and carries it down the wall to the foundation.

It sometimes requires that some designs require the Inline Framing concept to be infringed, affecting the cost of steel.

In other words, some projects that would be easier to execute with traditional construction, in Steel Frame, could be much more complex and costly.

A common case would be a two-story project in which the upper floor is offset from the ground floor.

The inline framing system principle is broken in this case, and although it can be solved structurally, it is at a higher cost than with other construction systems.

Do mobile homes have wood or metal studs?

Most mobile homes are built with walls containing 2 “x4″ wood studs spaced 16” apart, this is the standard, there are also some mobile homes with 2 “x2” or 2 “x3” wood studs depending on the size, age of the house, cost and location of the walls.

There are also mobile homes built with metal studs, but these projects tend to be individual constructions, the construction companies that are dedicated to the construction of mobile homes opt for the use of wood structures.

This is because these companies strictly adhere to established construction standards and codes, to ensure the quality and safety of the work, This is not to say that metal stud construction cannot be safe or of high quality, but in reality, wood stud structures can be more energy-efficient and can withstand more wind because they are more rigid.

It is also possible to use both wood and metal studs in a mobile home, the exterior load-bearing walls can be wood studs, while the interior walls, which are not load-bearing, could be metal and thus take advantage of the qualities of both materials.

Are metal studs as strong as wood?

Metal studs are not as strong as wooden studs, especially lighter studs that can only be used for internal non-load-bearing walls, some contractors advise against hanging heavy items, such as kitchen cabinets, Wood studs are more resistant to compression forces because they are a much denser material.


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