How To Drill Into Metal Studs | Step By Step Guide

How-To-Drill-Into-Metal-StudsMetal studs are growing increasingly popular and are being used for both commercial and residential buildings because they have numerous benefits over wooden studs.

They are resistant to disasters and are not affected by mold or termites. These studs are also less expensive, lighter, and precisely straight than wood studs. They are also a much healthier alternative because they do not release VOCs.

Unfortunately, when it comes to a steel frame, the level of difficulty for do-it-yourself jobs like hanging a television rises a notch.

Due to the fact that metal studs are denser, they necessitate the use of specialized instruments such as a drill, and if you are not careful, the procedure may be dangerous and result in fires.

But it doesn’t imply it’s an impossible task; in fact, if you know what you’re doing, you can do it yourself with ease.

Fortunately for you, I have compiled all of the required tips, tactics, and a step-by-step tutorial to assist you in learning how to drill into metal studs.

Step By Step Guide

When it comes to hanging items on the walls, whether it’s mirrors, picture frames, paintings, or even televisions, that much weight must be sustained by drywall inserts or anchors.

The majority of self-tapping inserts can support items but cannot tap into metal studs. For metal studs, you may either drill a hole or use frame screws.

Let’s make this process easier for you; here’s a step to step guide to help you figure out how to drill metal studs.

Step 1: Take The Necessary Precautions

Wearing protective gear is important, so don’t forget your safety glasses!

It just takes a little metal splinter to inflict major eye damage; thus, wearing adequate eye protection when drilling metal is a requirement.

Choose safety glasses that wrap around the sides of your face for the most protection.

Step 2: Find The Metal Stud

Using a stud finder is the quickest technique to detect the metal stud. They are available in a number of forms, each with differing degrees of efficacy.

Mark the middle of the stud after you’ve located it. Most metal stud spacing systems recommend 12 to 24 inches on the center.

Because metal studs seldom surpass 2-inches in width, utilize a stud finder with the highest precision.

Drilling a hole close to the stud’s edge might result in structural collapse or a damaged hole. 

Step 3: Locate The Center

To find the edges, drill through the drywall on either side of the metal stud. For this purpose, a little drill bit will suffice.

Keep in mind that nobody gets it right the first time, and it may take you a few tries, so just be patient and give yourself some time to master the technique.

After that, just repair the holes. Once you’ve discovered the sides, it’s much easier to find the middle. Now all you have to do is mark the center of the stud since you already know where the edges lie.

Step 4: Select The Right Drill Bit For Drilling Metal Studs

Almost every drill bit can pierce steel studs; however, using the improper bit will result in the bit being ruined an ugly hole that will be too hard to cover up.

For the best results, I will recommend that you use cobalt, oxide, titanium, or carbide-tipped twist bits.

You will be able to identify them easily by their color, as they are frequently colored in gold or silver.

It is essential to use the right drill bit for drilling metal studs as they will neatly and repeatedly pierce steel studs without considerable wear, so make the right choice.

Step 5: Choose The Type Of Screws

Drilling holes is not required to hang drywall; drywall screws penetrate without the need for pilot holes.

To hang drywall on steel studs, use fine drywall screws with a 20- to 25-gauge grade. On 12- to 20-gauge studs, use self-drilling drywall screws.

These screws feature sharper tips and finer threads to prevent stripping in metal. Additionally, finer threads hold metal better than ordinary threads.

Screws should be spaced 8 inches apart along the borders and 12 inches apart anywhere else.

Step 6: Make Pilot Holes If You Are Attaching Trimming

When you initially start drilling, drill bits tend to stray. To avoid this, measure and mark the location of the hole, then use a center punch and hammer to make a small dimple.

This provides a location for the tip of your drill bit to ride in as you begin to drill. When you’re ready to begin, with one hand, position the tip of the screw on the pencil-marked spot, and with the other, insert the drill into the screw head.

Before you start drilling, ensure sure the drill is level with the screw and that it will go straight into the wall. Then, while holding the screw, apply a little pressure to begin the hole. If you drill the screw into the wall, you won’t be able to hang whatever you’re trying to hang.

For baseboard or other wood trim, pilot holes are required. Once you’ve identified the stud, position the trim, drill a 1/4-inch countersink hole, and then drill through the trim alone (do not drill into the stud) using a 1/8-inch bit. Attach the trim to the walls and studs with one 1/2-inch self-drilling trim screws.

How To Drill Into Metal Studs For Plumbing And Electrical Holes?

Carpenters use hole saws to make bigger holes in studs for electrical and plumbing connections.

Ordinary hole saws, on the other hand, will not cut through metal efficiently, if at all.

Use A Hole Saw Or Opt For A Stud Punch

Make use of a metal hole saw. This type of hole saw features hardened teeth that are less abrasive and do not have much space in between the teeth to cut cleaner holes (similar to a hacksaw blade), so the saw does not bind.

If you’re not comfortable using a hole saw, a metal stud punch could be precisely what you need. This gadget is similar to a standard paper punch, except it is larger and more powerful, allowing it to punch holes in steel.

It is both rapid and efficient. Choose either of these options depending on your level of experience, convenience, and availability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you have learned how to drill into metal studs, there is a chance you still have some lingering questions related to the topic.

I’ve answered some frequently asked questions to clear out any last-minute doubts or confusion.

Do you need special drill bits for metal studs?

Even though any drill bit can pierce through metal studs, using the wrong bit can cause damage to your machine and drill bit.

Therefore I recommend using cobalt, oxide, titanium, or carbide-tipped twist bits as they are far more durable and make clean and precise holes through metal studs.

How do you screw into metal studs?

You will need a drill machine and can use fine drywall screws with a 20- to 25-gauge grade. On 12- to 20-gauge studs, use self-drilling drywall screws if you are planning on hanging on drywall.

If you need more detail about the process, refer to the step to step guide.

What are the best screws for metal studs?

That depends on what you’re planning to hang. If you are attaching trims, one 1/2-inch self-drilling trim screws will work wonderfully.

To hang drywall on steel studs, use fine drywall screws with a 20- to 25-gauge grade. On 12- to 20-gauge studs, use self-drilling drywall screws.

The reason why I think they work the best is that screws feature sharper tips and finer threads to prevent stripping in metal. The finer threads make a huge difference as they help hold on to the metal better than ordinary options.

Remember that the Screws should be spaced 8 inches apart along the borders and 12 inches apart anywhere else

Can metal studs be load-bearing?

Metal studs are available in a variety of dimensions, so they can perform the same functions as wooden studs.

Metal studs with heavier gauge are to be used for load-bearing and adding structure to the external walls, whereas lighter gauge options are used for non-load bearing applications such as in interior walls, half walls, and partitions.

Are metal studs stronger than wood?

Wood studs are stronger than metal studs and can carry more weight without buckling. They are also more durable and easier to cut.

On the negative side, wood studs are more expensive than steel studs and can be more difficult to install, necessitating the use of a variety of equipment.

Metal studs also provide resistance from disasters and don’t have problems like getting termite and mold infestations that can ruin the integrity of the structure of the entire building.


I hope you found the step to step guide helpful for figuring out how to drill into metal studs.

Remember that safety always comes first, so don’t forget to take all the safety precautions, including the safety gear.

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