Mounting shelf supports onto metal studs

I'm moving into an office with 1/2" drywall over metal studs. I have lots and lots of heavy textbooks and want to be careful about mounting the vertical shelf supports to the studs.
The contractor suggests self-tapping screws. These would have great resistance to shear pressure, but only one thread would be engaged in the thin stud to resist tensile force--as when I might lean on a shelf to pull up to reach a higher one.
I was thinking of steel pop rivets. They don't have quite the cross-section for shear strength, but would seem to be much better in tensile. (I'm an novice at construction--forgive me if I'm not using these terms quite right.) They make a 1/4" carbon steel rivet with 1245 lb of shear strength and 1505 of tensile. http://www.emhart-vic.com/emhart/sc_app/sc_description.asp?code fault&vid=1,10,10,0&famID
Any thoughts? These shelves will be crammed full of heavy, coated-paper, hard-cover textbooks--end-to-end, a 12' run. I'd like to ensure they stay up for a long time! Many thanks for your suggestions.
Shap Wolf
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The light gauge steel studs used in commercial interior walls are designed to hold up the sheetrock and wall covering. Any fit out I ever did required installation of wood blocking inside the wall to hang heavy shelving or cabinets. The walls must be opened up and 2x material screwed in the stud cavity and then closed up again. You can then hag off the 2x material. Shelving with legs going to the floor will hold the shelving up but will not stop the top screws from pulling out of the wall and the whole affair toppling over.

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They did run two rows of 16? guage sheet metal, about 10" wide, horizontally behind the sheetrock for reinforcement, at about 2' above floor and 5'. This gives me some confidence that the whole wall is tied together better than one with simply metal studs and rock.
I agree your solution would be much preferable, but the building is up and walls are in, so no option there. Will have to make do with what we have.
Thanks for your advice, Shap Wolf
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You are all set. The wall was made to carry additional loads. Another way to support heavy loads is with the sheet steel instead of wood blocking. It is not meant to tie the wall together but to hang loads from. This should handle your book shelf needs.

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Thanks! That's reassuring. The original question was the right fastener to hold the upright steel shelf standards to the wall, thinking that self-tapping screws wouldn't have enough (one or one & one-half threads) engagement in the steel to resist tensile stress on the shelves.
I was for pop rivets, others have said toggle bolts. What do you think?
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I cannot think that pop rivets would work. Toggles will give you maximum strength, but will require large holes. Drywall screws can be had in many lengths, they do not need to be self drilling for light gauge studs, but be careful, it will be easy to strip them.
I do not know what kind of loads you are contemplating or what thickness drywall you do have, but you might consider whirl-in anchors similar to Zip Its on this page: http://www.powers.com/aust/mechanical.html They would go into the sheetrock, not the studs. They will hold a tremendous amount of weight.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing. . . . DanG

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Shap Wolf:
The diameter of the POP rivets that would fit the holes in the shelf standards is too small, and would not be strong enough. Nor do you want to drill out the holes in the standards because that would significantly lessen their load carrying capacity - which is critical in that application.
Do not use aluminum fasteners. I would use steel bolts that went through holes drilled clear through the wall and studs and use large washers or bolt plates on the opposite side.
Do not use aluminum shelf standards. Use the steel industrial or store merchandiser quality products.
Calculate the total weight that the entire 12 ft. wide by 8 ft. high shelving system would carry.
Did you say how many shelves there are going to be? What is the floor structure beneath the shelves or partition? Concrete slab?
Examine the type of structure in the floor below the shelf supports and possible load carrying partition. Check the location of the floor joists. The location of the supports beneath the floor and wall is important. If the load including the shelving system or furniture weighs in at more than 1000 lbs., for example, you can see that the existing floor structure must be able to carry that load. A single [2x12] existing floor joist in undistributed loading may not be sufficient, and if it didn't break there would be significant deflection of, say, 2" to 6", depending.
Even if you hang the shelving on the partition, or use movable furniture units, the supports beneath the floor or partition should be checked to see if they can carry the loads.
If the partition in question is a demising wall you may want to check the lease to see what construction is permissible.
Ralph Hertle
S. Wolf wrote:

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whaty about some form of bookshelf, so most of the weight is transferred to the ground, rather than hanging off the wall?
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"S. Wolf" wrote:

http://www.emhart-vic.com/emhart/sc_app/sc_description.asp?code fault&vid=1,10,10,0&famID
If you want to be really sure about this shelf, then I would recommend glueing and screwing a plywood plate the size of the your shelf onto the wall. Then mount your shelf on that.
--
Robert Allison
Georgetown, TX
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On 27 Nov 2003, Robert Allison wrote:

(snip)...

Agree 101%. There was a thread on here a few months ago about somebody trying to hang a big heavy wooden object (some type of ship's wheel, IIRC) on metal studded walls. Same conclusion now as then: They're not made for that. Metal studs are made for building "McWalls": simple, drywall covered -partitions-.
You need to spred out the stress over the entire wall, not just the studs that will support the shelf standards. The big old (use good stuff, birch) plywood backer board sounds like a solution. It won't be pretty, but at least you won't tear your walls down.
--
Baisez-les s'ils ne peuvent pas prendre une plaisanterie
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Shap Wolf:
I've had direct experience with that sort of problem, and the loads that you are describing appear to be more than what a steel stud and GWB interior partition would carry.
Some ideas:
1. The partition must be attached and braced to structure above with diagonal steel stud struts and track or steel 2" X 2" "L" shapes attached to the structure. Check if the partition actually goes to the slab above or if it is indeed attached to the structure above.
2. Is the partition attached to the floor? Again a steel angle pinned to the slab and screwed to the partition hidden track. Place the "L" as the cove base. Paint it.
3. The thin partition studs will not support the loads. They may be 22 Ga., and that has virtually no structural strength except that it is a spacer and support for fastening the GWB. An example is that you could quite easily fold up one of the 24 Ga. studs with your bare hands and drop it into the office waste basket. The studs are quite often not attached to the tracks at top and bottom, and only to the GWB with a minimum of screws.
4. The existing studs may be placed at 16" O.C., and that, given the strength of the studs is insufficient. The pull out strength of S.T. screws in the 24 Ga. metal is insufficient even if the studs could carry the load. The studs may not be spaced evenly or be vertical inside the partition.
5. I suggest having a local black steel fabricator make some 2" X 2" X .125" steel tube supports with bolt flanges at the bottom and bolt holes for (two) 2" X 2" steel "L" braces at the top of each pole that are secured to the structure above. Place them at say 2'0" or 2'6" O.C., and ignore the partition stud spacings. The tube spacings will govern. Two toggle bolts in pre-drilled tubes may be used to locate the tubes during installation and to get the horiz. spacing right. Paint the tubes. (A 2" X 4" 14 Ga. steel "C" stud that is intended for light steel structural framing could be used, however, that doesn't have the neat appearance of a structural steel tube.) (You may want to opt for a 2" X 3" size structural (type of) steel tube for greater strength and less deflection.
6. Get the heavy vertical steel shelf standards that are 1" wide and have two rows of slots for shelf brackets. Get those from, www.garcy.com . They make quite an array of shelf brackets of different sizes and finishes. Use S.T. screws to attach the standards to the tube supports. Place three screw holes at the top of the standards and screw the standards (possibly brushed & chrome plated) to the tube. If the shelving falls the standards will pull out the top screws one by one. It is as if the entire load is carried on the top-most screws that remain in place.
7. Is the floor rein. concrete? Plywood? Wood boards? If boards the floor may no be able to support the weight without considerable deflection, and that places even greater demands on the fasteners above. Point loads on the floor joists or between joists should be considered. 3/4" X 12" F.W. plywood or even a horiz. steel tube at the floor may be needed to distribute the loads to the floor evenly. It may be useful to weld 10" or 12" steel tube feet horizontally to the steel tube uprights, and shim them as needed to get the shelf standard slots to line up horizontally.
8. The shelves could be birch faced plywood with either solid or veneer birch edge banding. Your local cabinet shop could make them and install them. Instead of having the shelf brackets protrude at the front edge of the shelf you may want to get the "T" type of brackets that can be fastened to the bottoms of the shelves with screws from beneath. Use clear sanding sealer for the finish, and no oil finish. Two 3/4" X 6'0" long by 10" or 12" wide shelves placed end to end (or one 8'0" and one 4'0" long pieces for economy).
9. Check out the accessories for the Garcy shelves and HD standards that are used in industry or stores.
10. If you give up you can get some Made-in-the-USA Metro-Shelving units. They are strong and the the wire structures may be ordered with chrome or color powder coated finished. They have quite a range of sizes, models, and accessories. The owners of the walls of your office may not permit any reinforced shelving, and movable Metro-Shelves would be lots easier to install. Use a dead rubber mallet. Get the Masonite shelf panels for use as bookshelves.
11. Make accurate drawings that show the true as-built (or existing conditions) dimensions. Measure the off-vertical walls at the left and right with a level, Measure the widths at the top and bottom. Bring a scale, and measure the weight of the books, Figure the shelf, fastener, and floor point loadings.
......
Ralph Hertle
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replying to Ralph Hertle, CruzR wrote: The strength of the wall comes from the union of the metal studs to the drywall (residential 1/2"; commercial 5/8"). If you check throughout the internet you will see other folks using SNAP TOGLE BOLTS directly onto metal studs to hold large heavy items like shelves and even commercially manufactured chin-up bars. If anything else ask the experts at THIS OLD HOUSE.
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