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Tools and Techniques for Installing Strut Channels

Many construction professionals use strut channels because they're so simple to assemble, adjust, and install. Plus, they have a wide range of applications. Strut channels are available in various depths and gauges, offering a range of strength and design capabilities suitable for all installation requirements.

Strut channels don't require welding, and assuming you choose the correct length and perforation style for your job, they often don't need to be cut or altered before use. The fact that strut channels often come ready to use and don't require many tools to assemble and adjust makes them very economical and easy to install.

With all strut channels, no matter the specific manufacturer, connections are made using bolts, threaded rods, and channel nuts, with various angled fittings used to connect strut channels as needed.

Planning Strut Channel Structures

Strut channel builds must be carefully planned to ensure you purchase the correct length, depth, gauge, and perforation style for each structural component. The complexity of possible structures varies massively, with options including:

  • Pipe supports
  • Conduit supports
  • HVAC supports
  • Rooftop walkways
  • Medical equipment supports
  • Storage shelves (temporary or permanent)
  • Risers and platforms

It is essential to consider factors like the load your struts need to bear and the weather, humidity, water, or chemicals they might be exposed to when choosing material and finish. [option to link internally to the article on choosing the correct strut channels and accessories]. On bigger projects, strut channel systems will be a part of the architectural design process - if this isn't the case, it should be taken up with a site manager or the architects themselves.

The good news with strut channels is that any mistakes apart from serious purchasing errors like buying the wrong finish or gauge can be fixed without much hassle because the components are so diverse, and they all work together.

It's best to measure twice and build once, but if issues come up or design changes, making adjustments is relatively easy. This is true even if you need to change the length of a strut or add perforations to an unperforated strut channel.

Cutting and Drilling Strut Channel
You can purchase strut channels in various lengths, including custom-manufactured options, but it is also possible to cut strut to size on-site if necessary. Cutting can be done using a hacksaw (with proper clamping), an electric band saw, or a cut-off saw with an abrasive blade.

Drilling in the field is also possible, but exercise caution when measuring the distance between holes and the size of holes. As there are so many options for pre-perforated strut channels, drilling often happens when a mistake has been made at the planning and ordering stage. If you have any concerns about what to order, get in touch with our expert team at White Cap for advice.

Installing Strut Channel

There are a lot of variables to consider when installing strut channels, but in almost every case, you will use threaded rods to connect strut channels and strengthen structures. The most common ways to use threaded rods are:

A Basic Fixed Connection
In a basic fixed connection, the threaded rod enters the bottom of the channel but doesn't emerge through the top of the strut. A channel nut, square washer, and hex nut are needed to hold the rod in place and ensure a gap between the top of the rod and the top of the strut.
Through Connections
If you may need to adjust your connection, use a through-connection. In a through-connection, the rod exits the strut at the top. This means a perforated strut is required, whether holes or slots.

Hex nuts and square washers should be used to secure the rod at the top and bottom of the channel. This method can be used with back-to-back channels.

Beneath-Channel Connection
For these, you need a U-shaped fitting. Attach the fitting to your channel, and use flat washers and hex nuts inside and outside the bottom of the fitting to secure the threaded rod. This type of connection allows for additional length adjustment and more overall length.

Angled Connections
If your strut is running at an angle (aka, when it is attached to other struts with angled hardware), you should use two more angled fittings and attach the threaded rods with bolts.
Strut and Strut Channel - Floor and Wall Mounting Strut Channel
 Image courtesy of Unistrut Midwest

Floor and Wall Mounting Strut Channel
You can connect strut channel structures to floors using base plates that your struts slot into and are then affixed with bolts.

To affix to walls, use back plates, boss plates, or threaded rods and hex nuts. You can easily clip pipes or cables into your strut channels.

For raised systems of pipes or wiring on roofs or beneath floors, run your struts along roof blocks - most have strut supports your strut channel will slot right into.

Overhead Application of Strut Channel
To affix strut channels to ceilings, use threaded rods and through connections.

You can bundle and clip wiring directly into back-to-back strut channels, add clevis hangers or J hangers to hang pipes or cables overhead, or suspend a second layer of struts beneath the first to support pipes, thicker cabling, or mechanical systems. In these cases, you may also want to connect two or more long struts with cross-beam strut channels for more load-bearing capacity and stability.

Tools Needed for Strut Channel Installation

Given the wide range of uses for strut channels, building structures with them requires unusually few tools.

You're unlikely to need to make any special purchases to install strut channel structures or support systems. Unless you are cutting strut channels yourself, you will only need combination wrenches, socket wrenches, drills and screwdrivers, and possibly pliers to pinch and tighten clips.

Buying From White Cap

When you buy from White Cap, you buy from the best.
Our team of knowledgeable associates will help you with putting together bid specs and ordering the products you need. We offer streamlined invoicing and 30-day credit to eligible buyers and contractor trader promotions.

White Cap carries accessories and struts from all major manufacturers, including US-based companies, for use on government or government-contracted jobs. We can supply you with bulk orders of struts and accessories and are happy to cater to custom orders.

White Cap has over 360 locations across the US and online shopping options. If you're interested in buying or renting from White Cap, get quotes, information, and more.
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