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Old 08-02-2016, 11:07 AM   #1
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Cement board on metal studs


As I've expected all of my bathroom's interior wall studs are metal (aluminum?) They seem pretty flimsy and are holding what seems to be a Greenboard in most of the areas (the house was built in 1997). The only exception was the tub surround where I've had about 2 feet of cement board:



My plan is to replace all of the finished walls with either Durock or HardieBacker cement board (for the follow-up tiling). The concern is that the interior studs won't be able to support the weight of the backer board plus the (ceramic) tiles.

Would you recommend sistering metal studs with some 2x4s and attaching cement board to that?

Another issue is that the tub alcove is larger than the standard tub size, so the builder added another 2 inches of metal framing (floor/ceiling plates + studs) to the wall with the plumbing (also seen in the picture). This makes an ugly bend in the wall right before the door frame. It will also make my life more difficult when I start putting CBU and tile up. Is there any way I can make the entire wall plumb and cover the lip of the tub at the same time? If not then should I try to re-use the 2 inch metal framing or sister bigger studs to the interior wall frame?
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:11 AM   #2
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Re: Cement board on metal studs


p.s. The bathroom is on the second floor with 2x4 (or 4x2?) floor trusses underneath, 24" o.c.
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:52 PM   #3
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Re: Cement board on metal studs


Metal studs are stiffer than you think once you add board to them.They fall under the same codes as wood studs.
After reading your second post I'm thinking that you need a new tape or learn how to read one.No offence but there is no way you 2nd floor bath should have 2 x4 joist at 24" centers.If it does there is no way you should be considering installing tile anywhere.
Are you sure you have your facts straight?What are the spacing of the joists?
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Old 08-02-2016, 01:42 PM   #4
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Re: Cement board on metal studs


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Originally Posted by mako1 View Post
Metal studs are stiffer than you think once you add board to them.They fall under the same codes as wood studs.
After reading your second post I'm thinking that you need a new tape or learn how to read one.No offence but there is no way you 2nd floor bath should have 2 x4 joist at 24" centers.If it does there is no way you should be considering installing tile anywhere.
Are you sure you have your facts straight?What are the spacing of the joists?
I think you misunderstood, these are floor trusses under the bathroom (and they are indeed spaced 24" apart):



The floor and the surround were tiled by the builder before I started to demolish. Somebody must've signed off on that?
I must say though, the floor does seem kind of bouncy...

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Old 08-02-2016, 01:47 PM   #5
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Re: Cement board on metal studs


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The floor and the surround were tiled by the builder before I started to demolish. Somebody must've signed off on that?
That's an assumption and not a good way to work. What's on top of the trusses (layers and thicknesses of each)?
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Old 08-02-2016, 02:51 PM   #6
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Re: Cement board on metal studs


I don't think I misunderstood.I stated joist because a lot of folks on this forum do not know the difference and do not know the terms .It is a DIY forum.
If you have floor trusses it would help to know what type,We know the spacing is 24" but do not know what type of trusses or what deflection they are rated for at 24" OC?
The type of subfloor would also be helpful?
The more info you can give ,the better.I would not as a pro for 45 years make an assumption on your OP.
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Old 08-02-2016, 05:15 PM   #7
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Re: Cement board on metal studs


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Originally Posted by stick\shift View Post
That's an assumption and not a good way to work. What's on top of the trusses (layers and thicknesses of each)?
I understand that it's never good to work on assumptions. However (to elaborate), in my community there is at least a dozen of copies of my house. I really think they were all built with the same plans and I'd be very surprised to see that they were not inspected by the city.
But for now I suppose we can assume that the construction is illegal...

To answer both yours and mako1's questions I just went, poked a hole in the tub's drain insulation, and measured the subfloor to be 3/4" (plywood). No underlayment! No wonder it feels bouncy.

Since we're touching that topic, do you think I should replace the subfloor? It's not in the best condition:



Luckily the two trusses that the subloor is laying on run in such a way that if I cut just the portion between the trusses then I'll have about 4" of the subloor remaining at each of the wall.
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Old 08-02-2016, 06:45 PM   #8
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Re: Cement board on metal studs


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Originally Posted by Fixif View Post
But for now I suppose we can assume that the construction is illegal....
Who said anything about illegal ? All Mako said was there is no way you can install tile on a floor supported by 2x4 joists on 24" centers. There is no legal requirement to make a floor stiff enough to ensure tile or stone can be placed on it.
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Old 08-02-2016, 08:13 PM   #9
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Re: Cement board on metal studs


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Originally Posted by SPS-1 View Post
Who said anything about illegal ? All Mako said was there is no way you can install tile on a floor supported by 2x4 joists on 24" centers. There is no legal requirement to make a floor stiff enough to ensure tile or stone can be placed on it.
The remark was not addressed to Mako and was also not about joists.
I also think that it'd be strange at the least if tiles were installed over 2x4 joists spaced 24" o.c.

Back on topic, I've pulled the public records on this house and found the building permits, so I guess (at least back in 1997) tiling over 2x4 open web floor trusses 24" o.c. was OK.

I've also found a 49-page document on the trusses used in this house. They are called "2x4 Parallel Chord Truss" and were manufactured by Production Truss & Fabrication Corporation, load factor is 700 PLF.
What did you guys need to know from the specification sheet?

Last edited by Fixif; 08-02-2016 at 08:25 PM. Reason: Added clarification to the quote
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Old 08-03-2016, 09:49 AM   #10
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Re: Cement board on metal studs


I was saying that you were assuming the floor was good enough for tile and that was a bad way to proceed. I never said illegal, either.
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Old 08-03-2016, 12:38 PM   #11
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Re: Cement board on metal studs


At least we are making a little headway here.In your last post you stated open web floor trusses.In your first you simply said trusses.There are lots of folks on DIY forums that interchange the words trusses with joist so it gets confusing .
Do the plans give the deflection of the trusses?This is the main issue when installing tile.
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