The last time I bought a bunch of 2×6 studs, I noticed a few studs in my trailer that looked quite a bit shorter than the others. The guy helping load up, quickly snatched them out of the trailer and said, “Oh sorry, I guess some 92s slipped in the pile.”
He was referring to precut studs, which are actually 92-5/8″ long. A rather precise length. It got me wondering: Why exactly are they 92-5/8″? There must be a specific reason. The answer is actually quite interesting…
Precut studs are cut to exactly 92-5/8″ to build wall frames that perfectly accommodate a standard 4×8′ sheet of drywall. When you add the thickness of the sole plate and two top plates to the height, you end up with a wall frame that is 97-1/8″ tall. Add a 1/2″ underlayment and a 5/8″ ceiling, and you’re left with a wall that is exactly 8′, or 96″.
The Benefits of Hanging Drywall on Precut Studs
The tru benefit of hanging a 4×8′ sheet of drywall on a precut wall assembly is the 1-1/4″ gap you get from the 97-1/4″ wall height. The gap is beneficial for two reasons:
- Sometimes the weight of rafters and trusses can cause the top plate to sag a tiny bit in some areas, and trimming a fraction of an inch off a sheet of drywall to make it fit is a real pain in the wazoo. The gap ensures that if there is an area of wall that’s a little too short, the full length sheet will still fit just fine.
- Even more importantly, the gap allows the drywall to be hung just a little bit above the floor. This creates a capillary break so the moisture sensitive drywall can’t wick moisture up from the floor.
Other Benefits of Precut Studs
Aside from accommodating drywall, there are other reasons builders might choose to use precut.
Precut Studs Save Time
A typical house frame consists of hundreds, or even thousands, of studs. If you had to cut every stud down to 92-5/8″, it would be extremely tedious and time consuming.
Precut Studs Save Money
Precut studs usually cost of little bit less than 8′ studs, or at least the same price. However, they also save money by saving time on the job site. The most expensive part of most buildings is typically the labor. You can save a lot by reducing construction time.
Precut Studs Reduce Waste
If you had to cut just a little less than 3-1/2″ off every stud, you’d be left with hundreds or thousands of tiny pieces of lumber. There’s really no way to make good use of all that scrap on a job site, so it would all get binned.
Precut studs also reduce waste by eliminating room for error. If the studs were cut by framers on the site, sooner or later someone would probably make a bad cut, and the board would get tossed aside.
Why Doesn’t Everyone Use Precut Studs All of The Time?
Precut studs don’t always make the most sense, despite their benefits. It depends on the job. For example, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to use precut studs for the house I’m currently building because they just don’t fit the design.
I have exposed horizontal rafters running under the top plate, so an 8′ sheet of drywall wouldn’t fit regardless. I’m also not using drywall, so I don’t care about that. I could list numerous other details that would make them impractical for my build, but I think you get the point. Precut makes the most sense when your assembly is one sole plate, two top plates, a 1/2″ underlayment, and a 5/8″ ceiling.