How to Drill Into Metal Studs?

Metal studs are used in residential and industrial buildings. Now, they have become more popular than wooden studs, as the material is lighter, takes less volume, and more both weather/environment and mechanical strain.

However, if you happen to install metal sud (as a rule, steel studs are used in most cases), you need to learn how to drill and modify it. Otherwise, you will have a bare wall with a lot of unused space.

So, drilling into metal studs consists of three stages: planning, getting ready, and performance. Each step requires attention and thoroughness because you do not have a right to a mistake (metal studs are tough to replace).

Preparation and Planning

The first thing to consider is to plan what you are going to hang on a wall with a metal stud inside. If it is simple light drywall, you do not need big holes. If it is a giant TV set, a shelf with many books in the future, or a water-boiling system, it requires a more severe approach.

So, it is up to you to decide the size of the future hall to be drilled. This decision affects the instrument choice. So, what you will need to be 100% covered:

  • Protection – a builder’s face mask, protective glasses, and a cap are obligatory, as you will work with small metal chips and particles flying everywhere. Also, we suggest getting suitable anti-slippering gloves to hold the instrument.
  • Depending on the purpose of the drilled hole, you will need from 12 to 20-gauge screws for all light things and from 20-gauge screws for everything heavy. Consider a thing serious if it weighs more than 44 pounds (20 kilograms).
  • Get a powerful drill that is designed to drill through metals. Also, you need to get metal drill tools (they have more sharp and intense carving). In case of light-weight things to hand from a metal stud wall, use self-drilling screws. Be sure that the screws have screw holders made from hard plastic or metal.
  • You might need the frames for have-weight things. It is essential to ensure the equal diversification of the pressure. So, the structures should be at least on two sides and in the middle. Orient yourself to their number being from three to five.
  • If you need the holes to be bigger than the screws, require (in case you want to put pipes or electrical wires through the stud, you will need metal-cutting instruments. We suggest taking a specialized metal saw or a metal-cutting drill bit. Take those being able to cut through fine steel.

This is it when it comes to preparation. Get a stable ladder if you need it. Make sure to enlighten your workspace by having a headlight or a vertical lamp. Do not forget to get something to draw on the wall. Also, do not forget a tool to locate the stud in a wall if you do not know where it is precisely. A stud finder is a simple scanner.

stud finder

Source: YouTube

Step 1. Finding a Stud and Its Center

It is essential to find the stud correctly in order to get a powerful and stable hole in it. The stud finder is a scanner that can give you an idea of the location and its approximate size.

Usually, the metal studs have a standard width of 1 and a quarter of inches. However, it is always helpful to make sure. As soon as you find the stud frame, locate its center on a needed height. Collate the size of the thing to be hung with the length to another frame.

If the future screw holes match the centers of the stud frames, it is OK. If they are not, move the holes to the needed side a bit. It is better to have both holes situated not in the center than a single hole being OK, and the other one being on or over the edge of the frame. Mark the future holes.

Step 2. Drilling the Holes or Self-Drilling Screws

Now, you need to get your drill and make a hole. You can make a small hole with your hand to put the drill bit there to prevent it from slipping. Use the bits specialized in metal cutting.

bits are covered with gold or silver

Source: YouTube

Usually, they are covered with gold or silver. They ensure a hole with smooth edges. At first, make some weak short attempts to plan the future hole and make sure that a drill will be steady.

Do them until you feel the metal stud. Now, put the drill with a bit into a hole, push a little bit, and turn it on. You need to screw through the stud in one particular attempt.

In the case of the self-drilling screws, you need to screw them carefully and slowly to be sure that they go correctly and do not harm the wall.

Step 3. Getting a Hole Done

Now, you have got a hole in a metal stud being inside a wall. By the way, if it is not inside, it is better to use a metal stud punch. It is safer, easier to use, and more convenient. Remove the dust from a hole, and try screwing the bolts. Do we have to mention that the hole must be a size or a half-a size smaller than a screw or a bolt?

Drilling the Holes

Source: YouTube

If everything is done right, you will get a durable hole that will hold anything for a long time. Do not forget to put the screw holders on screws and bolts to prevent their self-unscrewing.


As you can see, making a hole in a metal stud is not difficult. However, it requires thorough preparation and, maybe, the calculation of the resources needed. Keep this post by hand during your building activity, and you will never spoil your wall.

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