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You get two benefits when you build or remodel with wood studs. The studs provide the strength and framework for the structure, and the empty spaces between the studs serve an important function, too: They provide the perfect place—a veritable vertical freeway—to run pipes, vents, drains, wires and ductwork.
The drawback? When you have to run pipes, ducts or wires horizontally through the studs, you often have to notch or drill holes—sometimes big ones—to get them to their destination.How to Wall Mount a TV to Metal Studs
But you can't just drill and saw away. There are rules you have to follow for drilling and notching studs. Some rules help ensure the structural integrity of a wall. And others are aimed at protecting pipes and wires that could be damaged by screws, nails and other fasteners driven into a wall.
Building codes allow you to drill bigger holes and cut bigger notches in non-load bearing walls than in load-bearing walls. The technical yet important rules are:. There are other, less specific guidelines: When possible, notch a stud near the top, rather than the bottom. Finally, notch only when necessary; holes weaken it less than notches. In areas subject to high winds, earthquakes or tornadoes, maintaining wall strength is particularly important. Your building inspector will be on the lookout for overzealous notching and boring, so follow the rules.
In reality, few walls ever out-and-out collapse during everyday duty from being riddled with too many holes and notches. But there are LOTS of cases in which unprotected or inadequately protected pipes and wires have been nicked and punctured by screws and nails.
A to protect the wires from nails and screws. Available in 3-in. Those that come closer need to be covered by metal plates; for big pipes, use a long protective plate. Electricians and plumbers spend lots of time drilling big holes, so they know a few tricks to make the job easier or avoid it altogether. Use a right angle drill with hole saw bits for boring large holes.
Keep the holes centered on the studs and a consistent height off the floor. Angled holes are tough to pull wires through because the cable catches on the sharp edges. Holes square to the face of a stud are easy to pull wires through.
Wherever possible, run large pipes and ducts vertically into unfinished attics or basements, then install elbows and run the pipe or duct horizontally below the floor joists or above the ceiling joists. Rent a right angle drill and use Selfeed or hole saw bits for boring large holes Fig. The right angle drill allows you to drill holes square to the stud face. Holes drilled at an angle will wind up oval and therefore larger. Joist hanger manufacturers sell wrap-around, stud reinforcer plates Fig. Ask your inspector if they are permissible in special situations. When boring electrical holes, keep them square to the stud for easier wire installation, or pulling.The Woodpecker How I fill holes in wood
This may seem trivial, but angled holes like those shown in Fig. Holes in a line Fig. D let you pull wire through an entire wall length of studs at one time. Reciprocating saw Tape measure The best tool for drilling holes in studs is a right-angle drill with self-feeding bits. Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Metal protector plates. We are no longer supporting IE Internet Explorer as we strive to provide site experiences for browsers that support new web standards and security practices.
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Tweet this. Next Project. Search terms Search form submit button. Family Handyman. Building codes specify allowable sizes and locations for holes and cuts in studs. Here's a handy guide to those requirements that will keep your building standing tall.
Figure A: Rules for Notching and Boring Studs Building codes allow you to drill bigger holes and cut bigger notches in non-load bearing walls than in load-bearing walls. Figure A is also available as a pdf in Additional Information below.
Figure B: Drilling Use a right angle drill with hole saw bits for boring large holes. Figure C: Angled holes Angled holes are tough to pull wires through because the cable catches on the sharp edges. Figure D: Square holes Holes square to the face of a stud are easy to pull wires through.
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Drilling Holes: Notching and Boring Holes in Wood Studs