The company I work for in southern Wisconsin specializes in commercial construction. Many of our jobs see us partitioning the interiors of office buildings, manufacturing facilities, and other professional spaces. Fire codes require the use of noncombustible materials in commercial spaces, so light-gauge steel framing is the way to go. While steel currently represents only a tiny percentage of residential framing, the rising price of lumber may yet change that equation. In this article, I’ll limit the discussion to nonbearing interior partitions; structural steel framing typically requires engineering and is a separate focus.

Most residential carpenters have little experience with steel framing and may be leery of adopting an unfamiliar material. However, if you’re thinking about testing the waters, the good news is that little is required in the way of specialty tools — you probably already own most of them. The framing techniques are somewhat different, but with a...

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