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Title:
WALL SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/079132
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to construction elements and in particular construction elements used to construct stud frames for forming internal walls of a building. The invention relates to connectors that may be used to connect two stud members to limit, control or prevent movement of the stud members in the stud frame. A construction element for attachment to an end of a stud member comprises a main body portion configured for insertion into an end of said stud member and comprising four substantially orthogonal side walls; a slot provided in a first edge of a first one of the side walls, the slot extending in a direction towards an opposite second edge of said first side wall; and a plate, the main body portion extending from a first face of the plate.

Inventors:
CONYBEARE, Nigel Paul (Marsworth, TRING HP23 4NJ, GB)
Application Number:
GB2020/052674
Publication Date:
April 29, 2021
Filing Date:
October 23, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CONYBEARE, Nigel Paul (Marsworth, TRING HP23 4NJ, GB)
International Classes:
E04B2/76; E04B2/74
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOLMES, Jacqueline et al. (25 The SquareMartlesham Heath, IPSWICH Suffolk IP5 3SL, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A construction element for attachment to an end of a stud member, the construction element comprising: a main body portion configured for insertion into an end of said stud member and comprising four substantially orthogonal side walls; a slot provided in a first edge of a first one of the side walls, the slot extending in a direction towards an opposite second edge of said first side wall; and a plate, the main body portion extending from a first face of the plate.

2. A construction element as claimed in Claim 1 further comprising a second slot provided in the second edge of said first side wall, the second slot extending in a direction towards the opposite first edge of the first side wall.

3. A construction element as claimed in Claim 2 further comprising a third slot provided in a first edge of a second one of the side walls, the third slot extending in a direction towards an opposite second edge of said second side wall, and the second side wall being opposite the first side wall, and the second side wall extending parallel to the first side wall.

4. A construction element as claimed in Claim 3 further comprising a fourth slot provided in the second edge of said second side wall, the fourth slot extending in a direction towards the opposite first edge of the second side wall.

5. A construction element as claimed in any one of Claims 1 to 4 wherein the construction element is made from a rigid polymeric material.

6. A connector for connecting an end of a first stud member to another member in a stud wall, the connector comprising a construction element as claimed in any one of Claims 1 to 5, wherein the plate is a base plate of an attachment portion of the connector.

7. A connector as claimed in Claim 6, in which the base plate is substantially rectangular.

8. A connector as claimed in Claim 6, in which the base plate is substantially circular.

9. A connector as claimed in any one of Claims 6 to 8, in which the base plate includes at least one fixing hole for securing the connector to said other member of said stud wall.

10. A connector as claimed in Claim 7, in which the attachment portion further comprises a pair of brace plates, a distance or gap between the brace plates being sized to receive a stud member.

11. A connector as claimed in Claim 10, in which each of the brace plates includes a fixing hole for receiving a fastener for securing the connector to said stud member.

12. A connector as claimed in Claim 7, in which the attachment portion further comprises a locking element extending from an opposite second face of the base plate, and the locking element being substantially lozenge-shaped and including two locking wings for engagement with a channel member of said stud wall.

13. A connector as claimed in any one of Claims 6 to 12 wherein the connector is made from a rigid polymeric material.

14. A compression assembly comprising: a connector as claimed in Claim 7, the attachment portion of the connector further comprising a recess; and a displacement assembly comprising a spring and a damper element, the displacement assembly being at least partially received in the recess.

15. A compression assembly as claimed in Claim 14 further comprising a leg member including a foot plate for engagement with a channel member of said stud wall.

16. A compression assembly as claimed in Claim 14 or Claim 15, wherein the compression assembly has a first configuration in which a force applied to the compression assembly is transferred through the spring and not the damper element, and a second configuration in which a force applied to the compression assembly is transferred through the damper element.

17. A compression assembly as claimed in any one of Claims 14 to 16, wherein the connector is made from a rigid polymeric material.

18. An assembly comprising: a construction element according to one of Claims 1 to 5, a connector according to one of Claims 6 to 13, or a compression assembly according to one of Claims 14 to 17; and a stud member, the stud member comprising a channel member having a pair of side walls and a pair of lips extending from the side walls and defining an opening of the channel member, wherein the main body portion is at least partially disposed in an end region of the channel member and a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots.

19. An assembly as claimed in Claim 18, in which the stud member has a first end and a second end, and the main body portion of a first construction element, connector or compression assembly is at least partially disposed in a first end region of the channel member and the main body portion of a second construction element, connector or compression assembly is at least partially disposed in a second end region of the channel member.

20. An assembly comprising: a first elongate channel member comprising a pair of side walls and a pair of lips extending from the side walls; a second elongate channel member, a longitudinal axis of the second channel member extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the first channel member; and a connector according to any one of Claims 6 to 13, the main body portion of the connector being at least partially disposed in an end region of the first channel member such that a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots, and the attachment portion of the connector being engaged with or secured to the second channel member.

21. An assembly as claimed in Claim 20, in which the attachment portion of the connector is configured such that connector prevents the first channel member moving with respect to the second channel member in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis of the second channel member.

22. An assembly as claimed in Claim 20, in which the attachment portion of the connector is configured such that connector permits sliding movement of the first channel member with respect to the second channel member in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis of the second channel member.

23. A kit comprising two or more construction elements according to one of Claims 1 to 5, two or more connectors according to one of Claims 6 to 13, or two or more compression assemblies according to one of Claims 14 to 17.

24. A kit as claimed in Claim 23 further comprising at least one stud member.

25. A stud frame comprising: a first elongate channel member comprising a pair of side walls and a pair of lips extending from the side walls, the first channel member extending between first and second ends; a second elongate channel member, a longitudinal axis of the second channel member extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the first channel member; a third elongate channel member, a longitudinal axis of the third channel member extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the first channel member and parallel to the longitudinal axis of the second channel member; a first connector according to any one of Claims 6 to 13, the main body portion of the first connector being at least partially disposed in a first end region of the first channel member such that a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots, and the attachment portion of the first connector being engaged with or secured to the second channel member; and a second connector according to any one of Claims 6 to 13, the main body portion of the second connector being at least partially disposed in a second end region of the first channel member such that a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots, and the attachment portion of the second connector being engaged with or secured to the third channel member.

26. A stud frame as claimed in Claim 25, wherein the second channel member is a head track.

27. A stud frame as claimed in Claim 25 or Claim 26, wherein the third channel member is a base track.

28. A stud frame as claimed in any one of Claims 25 to 27 further comprising: a fourth elongate channel member, a longitudinal axis of the fourth channel member extending parallel to the first channel member and extending perpendicular to the longitudinal axes of the second channel member and the third channel member; a third connector according to any one of Claims 6 to 13, the main body portion of the third connector being at least partially disposed in a first end region of the fourth channel member such that a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots, and the attachment portion of the third connector being engaged with or secured to the second channel member; and a fourth connector according to any one of Claims 6 to 13, the main body portion of the fourth connector being at least partially disposed in a second end region of the fourth channel member such that a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots, and the attachment portion of the fourth connector being engaged with or secured to the third channel member.

29. A stud frame as claimed in Claim 28, wherein the attachment portions of the first and second connectors are configured such that the first and second connectors prevent the first channel member moving with respect to the second and third channel members in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axes of the second and third channel members, and the attachment portions of the third and fourth connectors are configured such that the third and fourth connectors permit sliding movement of the fourth channel member with respect to the second and third channel members in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axes of the second and third channel members.

30. A wall comprising a stud frame according to any one of Claims 25 to 29 and a layer of sheathing secured to a part of the stud frame.

31. A wall as claimed in Claim 30 when dependent on any one of Claims 25 to 28, wherein the sheathing is secured to the first channel member, and the sheathing is free to move with respect to the second channel member and the third channel member.

32. A wall as claimed in Claim 30 when dependent on Claim 29, wherein the sheathing is secured to the fourth channel member and not to any of the first, second or third channel members, such that the sheathing is free to move with respect to the first, second and third channel members.

33. A wall as claimed in any one of Claims 30 to 32, wherein the sheathing comprises a sheet of plasterboard.

34. A method of constructing a stud frame comprising: inserting a main body portion of a first connector into a first end region of a first elongate channel member, the first channel member comprising a pair of side walls and a pair of lips extending from the side walls, and the first channel member extending between first and second ends, and the first connector being according to any one of Claims 6 to 13; inserting a main body portion of a second connector into a second end region of the first elongate channel member, the second connector being according to any one of Claims 6 to 13; engaging an attachment portion of the first connector with a second elongate channel member to secure the first channel member to the second channel member, a longitudinal axis of the second channel member extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the first channel member; and engaging an attachment portion of the second connector with a third elongate channel member to secure the first channel member to the third channel member, a longitudinal axis of the third channel member extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the first channel member and parallel to the longitudinal axis of the second channel member, wherein inserting a main body portion of the first connector into the first end region of the first channel member comprises inserting a part of one of the lips of the first channel member in the slot or one of the slots of the first connector, and inserting a main body portion of the second connector into the second end region of the first channel member comprises inserting a part of one of the lips of the first channel member in the slot or one of the slots of the second connector.

Description:
Wall System

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to building elements and in particular building elements used to construct stud frames for forming internal walls of a building. The invention relates to connectors that may be used to connect two stud members to limit, control or prevent movement of the stud members in the stud frame. The present invention also relates to stud frames including such building elements or connectors, to walls including a stud frame and to a kit including a plurality of building elements or connectors.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

The increased demand for taller buildings, which are being constructed faster, has led to design changes in the way that buildings are being constructed. Steel and concrete, together with lighter but stronger composite materials, are being increasingly adopted. However, with the increased height of the buildings comes the need to understand the external loads that are acting on the building, for example from wind loading.

Innovation in building construction and an understanding of the external forces has led to greater knowledge about how a building moves and, in particular, that tall buildings will bend from the solid foundations throughout the height of the structure. Whilst this movement may be small, there is movement throughout the structure of the building and this needs to be taken into consideration within the overall design concept.

Before the advent of computer aid design (CAD) and an understanding of exactly how a building moved the total structure was over-engineered to allow for all eventualities, which led to expensive and prolonged construction. Enhanced computer aided design now permits the design of these structures to account for expected external loadings and the design of the building specifically allows the building to move under, for example, wind loading. By accounting for the movement or performance of the building under external loads at the design stage, the design can be structurally attuned to this performance and this allows the design to value engineer the use of the materials in the construction, i.e. the design can make optimal use of materials in the construction. With the advent of these modern methods of design and construction considerable savings have been made to both the cost and efficiencies of construction in relation to the load bearing structures of buildings. However, traditional methods of completing the build, such as placement and construction of internal non-load bearing walls, have not kept pace with the innovations in the load bearing structures of buildings.

Current and traditional methods for the internal division of these structures into habitable, residential spaces, offices or retail spaces were developed over sixty years ago with the advent of the use of plasterboard. The design of these internal walls typically only makes provision for a vertical deflection movement. Currently no provision is made for deflection or movement in a generally horizontal direction. However, with the adoption of more modern methods of design and construction of buildings, and the resultant increased bending moments throughout the building caused by reduced dimensions of structural members, significant horizontal movement is now imposed on the internal walls.

It has been found, through research and documentary evidence from buildings where this situation now arises, that horizontal forces are causing movement of internal walls that are not designed to move. This manifests itself by way of sound being transferred through the walls, the sound being caused by movement of steel studs within the walls. This sound transference is unacceptable and there is a need to prevent or minimise the sound being produced and/or the transference of this sound so that the dwellings within the building are habitable.

Currently, internal walls often comprise a frame made from streel studs and sheets of plasterboard that are attached to and cover the steel frame. Vertical steel studs will extend substantially vertically between a floor and a ceiling, and horizontal steel studs will extend between and be connected to adjacent vertical studs.

A current method of fixing the vertical steel studs in a wall is to provide an over depth head track which is fitted to a deflection head. A deflection head comprises two pieces of plasterboard which are fixed to the ceiling soffit or underside of the ceiling. This provides a fire break. A base track is fitted to the floor. Vertical studs are cut to a length such that they fit and extend between the head track and the base track. The vertical studs have to be accurately cut so that they fit between the head track and base track leaving a gap within the depth of the head track. This gap is typically of 25 mm. The vertical studs are engaged within the head and base tracks and both the head and base tracks are slightly deformed to hold the vertical stud in place via friction. Sheathing, typically in the form of sheets of plasterboard, is then fixed to the vertical studs. Neither the base track nor the head track is fixed to the sheathing. A height of the sheathing is such that, when no vertical force is being applied to the wall structure, there is a gap between a top edge of the sheathing and the ceiling. The gap preferably has the same dimensions as the thickness or depth of the deflection head, which will be approximately 25 mm.

In the event of building deflection causing a vertical force to be applied to the wall structure, the ceiling drops (or moves in a direction towards the floor) which in turn pushes or moves the head track in a downwards vertical direction towards the floor. This movement is possible due to the gap between the vertical stud and the head. The sheathing does not move during this deflection due to the sheathing only being attached to the vertical stud and not to the head track.

There is, however, no provision for horizontal movement in the wall structure.

Against that background, it would be desirable to provide a wall system utilising traditional internal wall sheathing, such as plasterboard or drywall, that eliminates the sound transference from the steel frame when the building structure is moving under load. It would also be desirable to provide a wall system that can be easily installed by semi-skilled trade contactors, and which is both faster and safer to install than traditional steel frames.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A first aspect of the present invention provides a building element or construction element for attachment to an end of a stud member, the building element comprising: a main body portion configured for insertion into an end of said stud member and comprising four substantially orthogonal side walls; a slot provided in a first edge of a first one of the side walls, the slot extending in a direction towards an opposite second edge of said first side wall; and a base plate or end plate, the main body portion extending from a first face of the base plate or end plate.

In preferred embodiments the building element or construction element further comprises a second slot provided in the second edge of said first side wall, the slot extending in a direction towards the opposite first edge of the first side wall. In some embodiments the building element or construction element further comprises a third slot provided in a first edge of a second one of the side walls, the third slot extending in a direction towards an opposite second edge of said second side wall. The second side wall being opposite the first side wall, and the second side wall extending parallel to the first side wall. The building element or construction element may further comprise a fourth slot provided in the second edge of said second side wall, the slot extending in a direction towards the opposite first edge of the second side wall.

A second aspect of the present invention provides a connector for connecting an end of a first stud member to another member in a stud wall, the connector comprising: a main body portion configured for insertion into an end of said first stud member and comprising four substantially orthogonal side walls; a slot provided in a first edge of a first one of the side walls, the slot extending in a direction towards an opposite second edge of said first side wall; and an attachment portion comprising a base plate, the main body portion extending from a first face of the base plate.

In preferred embodiments the connector further comprises a second slot provided in the second edge of said first side wall, the slot extending in a direction towards the opposite first edge of the first side wall.

In some embodiments the connector further comprises a third slot provided in a first edge of a second one of the side walls, the third slot extending in a direction towards an opposite second edge of said second side wall. The second side wall being opposite the first side wall, and the second side wall extending parallel to the first side wall. The connector may further comprise a fourth slot provided in the second edge of said second side wall, the slot extending in a direction towards the opposite first edge of the second side wall.

In some embodiments the base plate is substantially rectangular. In some embodiments the base plate is substantially circular. The base plate may include one or more fixing holes for securing the connector to said other member of said stud wall.

In some embodiments the attachment portion further comprises a pair of brace plates, a distance or gap between the brace plates being sized to receive a stud member. Preferably each of the brace plates includes a fixing hole for receiving a fastener for securing the connector to said stud member.

In some embodiments the attachment portion further comprises a locking element. The locking element preferably extends from an opposite second face of the base plate. The locking element may be substantially lozenge-shaped, including two locking wings for engagement with a channel member of said stud wall.

In some embodiments the attachment portion comprises a recess for receiving a part of a displacement assembly. The displacement assembly preferably comprises a spring and a damper element. The connector of these embodiments preferably forms part of a compression assembly. The compression assembly preferably comprises the connector, the displacement assembly and a leg member. The leg member may include a foot plate for engagement with a channel member of the stud wall.

The compression assembly preferably has a first configuration in which a force applied to the compression assembly is transferred through the spring (and not the damper element) and a second configuration in which a force applied to the compression assembly is transferred through the damper element.

The building element, construction element or connector is preferably made from a rigid, non-metallic material. More preferably from a rigid polymeric material.

A third aspect of the present invention provides an assembly comprising: a building element, construction element or connector according to the first or second aspect of the invention; and a stud member, the stud member comprising a channel member having a pair of side walls and a pair of lips extending from the side walls and defining an opening of the channel member, wherein the main body portion is at least partially disposed in an end region of the channel member and a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots.

In some embodiments the stud member has a first end and a second end, and the main body portion of a first building element, construction element or connector is at least partially disposed in a first end region of the channel member and the main body portion of a second building element, construction element or connector is at least partially disposed in a second end region of the channel member. The first building element, construction element or connector may be the same as or different to the second building element, construction element or connector.

A third aspect of the present invention provides an assembly comprising: a first elongate channel member comprising a pair of side walls and a pair of lips extending from the side walls; a second elongate channel member, a longitudinal axis of the second channel member extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the first channel member; and a connector according to the second aspect of the invention, the main body portion of the connector being at least partially disposed in an end region of the first channel member such that a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots, and the attachment portion of the connector being engaged with or secured to the second channel member.

In some embodiments the attachment portion is configured such that connector prevents the first channel member moving with respect to the second channel member in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis of the second channel member. In other embodiments the attachment portion is configured such that connector permits sliding movement of the first channel member with respect to the second channel member in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis of the second channel member.

A fourth aspect of the present invention provides a kit comprising two or more building elements, construction elements or connectors according to the first or second aspect of the invention.

The kit preferably comprises at least two different building elements, construction elements or connectors according to the first or second aspect of the invention.

The kit may further comprise at least one stud member or channel member.

A fifth aspect of the present invention provides a stud frame comprising: a first elongate channel member comprising a pair of side walls and a pair of lips extending from the side walls, the first channel member extending between first and second ends; a second elongate channel member, a longitudinal axis of the second channel member extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the first channel member; a third elongate channel member, a longitudinal axis of the third channel member extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the first channel member and parallel to the longitudinal axis of the second channel member; a first connector according to the second aspect of the invention, the main body portion of the first connector being at least partially disposed in a first end region of the first channel member such that a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots, and the attachment portion of the first connector being engaged with or secured to the second channel member; and a second connector according to the second aspect of the invention, the main body portion of the second connector being at least partially disposed in a second end region of the first channel member such that a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots, and the attachment portion of the second connector being engaged with or secured to the third channel member.

A sixth aspect of the present invention provides a wall comprising a stud frame according to the fifth aspect of the present invention and a layer of sheathing secured to a part of the stud frame.

In preferred embodiments the sheathing is secured to the first channel member, and the sheathing is free to move with respect to the second channel member and the third channel member. The second channel member may be a head track. The third channel member may be a base track.

In some embodiments the stud frame comprises a fourth channel member, a third connector according to the second aspect of the invention and a fourth connector according to the second aspect of the invention. The fourth channel member comprises a pair of side walls and a pair of lips extending from the side walls. The fourth channel member extends between first and second ends, and a longitudinal axis of the fourth channel member is parallel to the first channel member and perpendicular to the longitudinal axes of the second channel member and the third channel member. The main body portion of the third connector is at least partially disposed in a first end region of the fourth channel member such that a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots, and the attachment portion of the third connector is engaged with or secured to the second channel member. The main body portion of the fourth connector is at least partially disposed in a second end region of the fourth channel member such that a part of one of the lips is received in the slot or one of the slots, and the attachment portion of the fourth connector is engaged with or secured to the third channel member.

In preferred embodiments the attachment portions of the first and second connectors are configured such that the first and second connectors prevent the first channel member moving with respect to the second and third channel members in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axes of the second and third channel members. The attachment portions of the third and fourth connectors are configured such that the third and fourth connectors permit sliding movement of the fourth channel member with respect to the second and third channel members in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axes of the second and third channel members. In these embodiments the sheathing is preferably secured to the fourth channel member and not to any of the first, second or third channel members, such that the sheathing is free to move with respect to the first, second and third channel members.

The sheathing preferably comprises sheets of plasterboard.

A seventh aspect of the present invention provides a method of constructing a stud frame comprising: inserting a main body portion of a first connector into a first end region of a first elongate channel member, the first channel member comprising a pair of side walls and a pair of lips extending from the side walls, and the first channel member extending between first and second ends, and the first connector being according to the second aspect of the invention; inserting a main body portion of a second connector into a second end region of the first elongate channel member, the second connector being according to the second aspect of the invention; engaging an attachment portion of the first connector with a second elongate channel member to secure the first channel member to the second channel member, a longitudinal axis of the second channel member extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the first channel member; and engaging an attachment portion of the second connector with a third elongate channel member to secure the first channel member to the third channel member, a longitudinal axis of the third channel member extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the first channel member and parallel to the longitudinal axis of the second channel member, wherein inserting a main body portion of the first connector into the first end region of the first channel member comprises inserting a part of one of the lips of the first channel member in the slot or one of the slots of the first connector, and inserting a main body portion of the second connector into the second end region of the first channel member comprises inserting a part of one of the lips of the first channel member in the slot or one of the slots of the second connector.

Utilising connectors of the present invention in the construction of a stud frame of a wall can permit the wall to move under both horizontal and vertical external loads being applied to or imposed on the structure of the building in which the wall is situated.

Aspects of the present invention therefore provide an opportunity for design flexibility in the construction of a stud wall, such that in some circumstances the wall may be permitted to move and in other circumstances the wall is fixed and isolated (at least to a limited degree) from external loads being imposed on the structure of the building. By utilising a selection of the connectors of the present invention to secure together stud members of the stud wall, and to connect stud members to the base track and head track of the wall, relative movement of the stud members with respect to other parts of the wall can be specifically engineered and controlled to permit the desired amount of movement, and to control the plane or direction in which that movement occurs.

A connector according to the present invention is preferably located at each intersection between a vertical stud member and the base track and at each intersection between a vertical stud member and the head track. Connectors may also be located at intersections between vertical stud members and other horizontal stud members. The connectors are preferably acoustically isolating.

In walls constructed according to the present invention, it is preferable if the sheathing (plasterboard) of the wall is only permitted to move in concert with the stud frame structure. In other words, the sheathing is preferably only connected to those parts of the stud frame that are able to move under externally applied loads. It will be appreciated that movement of the sheathing (plasterboard) should only be permitted where it will not be seen or where it will not have a detrimental effect on other fixtures and fittings within the building. It will be appreciated therefore, that walls of bathroom and kitchens, for example, may need to be isolated from external loads applied to the building.

Furthermore, any walls that include a doorway or a window opening should also be designed and constructed so that the shape and dimensions of the doorway or window opening do not vary under imposed loading on the wall. The connectors of the present invention allow the structure of the stud wall to be engineered so that imposed loads are isolated from the doorway or window opening.

The connectors of the present invention are designed to engage with and connect to standard steel section (stud members) commonly used to construct stud walls.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will now be further described by way of example only and with reference to the following non-limiting examples and the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a cross-sectional view of a traditional prior art walling system;

Figure 2 is a detailed view of the area bounded by dashed circle A in Figure 1;

Figure 3 is a cross-sectional view of the prior art walling system of Figure 1 ;

Figure 4 is a plan view from a front elevation of the walling system of Figure 1, showing in particular the position of studs and the position of typical fixings;

Figure 5 is a perspective view of a stud frame of the prior art walling system of Figure 1, the stud frame comprising a plurality of stud members;

Figure 6 is a cross-sectional view of a standard steel stud member used in the stud frame of Figure 5;

Figure 7 is a perspective view of two standard prior art stud members engaged lengthwise;

Figure 8 is a perspective view of a fixed stud connector according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 9 is a perspective view of the fixed stud connector of Figure 8 engaged with an end of a standard stud member;

Figure 10 is a perspective view of a sliding stud connector according to a second embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 11 is a perspective view of the sliding stud connector of Figure 10 engaged with an end of a standard stud member and a base track;

Figure 12 is a perspective view of a vertical stud-to-stud connector according to a third embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 13 is a perspective view of the vertical stud-to-stud connector of Figure 12 engaged with an end of a standard stud member;

Figure 14 is a perspective view of the vertical stud-to-stud connector of Figure 12 engaged with an end of a standard stud member and a head track;

Figure 15 is a perspective view of a horizontal stud-to-stud connector according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 16 is a perspective view of the horizontal stud-to-stud connector of Figure 15 engaged with an end of a standard stud member;

Figure 17 is a perspective view of the horizontal stud-to-stud connector of Figure 15 connecting a standard horizontal stud member to a standard vertical stud member;

Figure 18 is a side view of a compensator connector according to a fifth embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 19 is a perspective view of the compensator connector of Figure 18;

Figure 20 is a side view of a compression assembly including the compensator connector of Figure 18;

Figure 21 is a cross-sectional view from the side of the compression assembly of Figure 20;

Figure 22 is a perspective view of the compression assembly of Figure 20 engaged with an end of a standard stud member; Figure 23 is a perspective view of the compression assembly of Figure 20 engaged with an end of a standard stud member and a head track;

Figure 24 is a perspective view of an end cap according to a sixth embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 25 is a perspective view of the end cap of Figure 24 engaged with an end of a standard stud member;

Figure 26 is a perspective view of a modified sliding stud connector according to a seventh embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 27 is a perspective view of the modified sliding stud connector of Figure 26 engaged with an end of a standard stud member;

Figure 28 is a plan view of a stud frame according to an embodiment of the present invention constructed from standard stud members and stud connectors according to one or more embodiments of the present invention;

Figure 29 is a perspective view of the stud frame of Figure 28;

Figure 30 illustrates a wall according to an embodiment of the present invention comprising a stud frame and sheathing;

Figure 31 is a detailed view of the area bounded by dashed circle A in Figure 30;

Figure 32 is a perspective view of the wall of Figure 30;

Figure 33 illustrates a plurality of intersecting and adjoining walls, each wall being as shown in Figure 30;

Figure 34 is a perspective view of a horizontal standard stud member with a horizontal stud- to-stud connector engaged with each end of the stud member to form a transverse stud assembly;

Figure 35 is a plan view of a stud frame including the transverse stud assembly of Figure 34;

Figure 36 is a perspective view of the stud frame of Figure 35;

Figure 37 is a plan view of a stud frame according to an embodiment of the present invention and including a door opening;

Figure 38 is a perspective view of the stud frame of Figure 37;

Figure 39 is a plan view of a stud frame according to an embodiment of the present invention and including a window opening; and

Figure 40 is a perspective view of the stud frame of Figure 39.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

A traditional, prior art structure of an internal wall 2 of a building is illustrated in Figures 1 to 5. The wall 2 comprises a supporting stud frame 4 and sheathing or outer cladding 6. The sheathing 6 will typically be attached to opposite first and second sides of the stud frame 4, such that the stud frame 4 forms an internal supporting frame of the wall 2.

The stud frame 4 comprises a plurality of stud members 8. Each stud member 8 has the form shown in Figures 6 and 7. Each stud member 8 comprises a channel member 10 having a base plate 12 and two side plates 14. The base plate 12 has two opposite end edges 16 and two opposite side edges 18. One of the side plates 14 extends from each of the side edges 18 of the base plate 12. The side plates 14 extend from the base plate 12 in a direction substantially perpendicular to the base plate 12 such that the channel member 10 has a U-shaped cross-section.

Each of the base plate 12 and side plates 14 extends between first and second ends 20, 22 of the stud member 8. A longitudinal axis 24 of the stud member 8 is defined along a line extending between the first and second ends 20, 22. The stud member 8 is preferably elongate in the longitudinal direction.

A lip 26 extends from a longitudinal edge 28 of each of the side plates 14 furthest from the base plate 12. Each lip 26 extends from the respective side plate 14 in a direction substantially perpendicular to the side plate 14. Furthermore, each lip 26 extends from the respective side plate 14 in a direction towards the other side plate 14. In this way, a first lip 26a extends from a first side plate 14a in a direction towards a second side plate 14b and a second lip 26b extends from the second side plate 14b in a direction towards the first side plate 14a.

Each lip 26 is preferably planar and includes a first, internal surface 30 facing towards the base plate 12 of the channel member 10, and a second, external surface 32 facing in an opposite direction. An opening 34 of the channel member 10 is defined between distal, longitudinal edges 36 of the first and second lips 26.

Importantly, a height of each of the side plates 14, defined as the distance between the longitudinal edge 28 and the base plate 12, is different. In this example, a height of the first side plate 14a is greater than a height of the second side plate 14b. This allows two stud members 8 to be connected together end-to-end as illustrated in Figure 7.

Referring again to Figures 1 to 5, the stud frame 4 comprises a plurality of vertical or upright stud members 8, a head track 38 and a base track 40. The head track 38 comprises an elongate header channel member 42. The header channel 42 of the head track 38 extends between first and second ends 44, 46, which defines a longitudinal axis 48 of the head track 38. The header channel 42 comprises a top plate 50 and two side plates 52. The top plate 50 has two opposite end edges 54 and two opposite side edges 56. One of the side plates 52 extends from each of the side edges 56 of the top plate 50. The side plates 52 extend from the top plate 50 in a direction substantially perpendicular to the top plate 50 such that the header channel 42 has a U-shaped cross-section. The base track 40 comprises an elongate base channel member 58. The base channel 58 of the base track 40 extends between first and second ends 60, 62, which defines a longitudinal axis 64 of the base track 40. The base channel 58 comprises a bottom plate 66 and two side plates 68. The bottom plate 66 has two opposite end edges 70 and two opposite side edges 72. One of the side plates 68 extends from each of the side edges 72 of the bottom plate 66. The side plates 68 extend from the bottom plate 66 in a direction substantially perpendicular to the bottom plate 66 such that the base channel 58 has a U-shaped cross-section.

Each of the stud members 8, head track channel member 42 and base track channel member 58 are preferably made from a suitable steel material. The stud frame 4 further comprises a deflection head 74. The deflection head 74 comprises an elongate member 76 fixed to a first surface 78 of the top plate 50, on an opposite side of the top plate 50 to the side plates 52. The elongate member 76 preferably comprises a layer of plasterboard. In preferred embodiments the deflection head 74 comprises at least two layers of plasterboard. As will be described further below, a depth or thickness of the deflection head 74 defines the maximum vertical movement that can be accommodated by the stud frame 4. As such, the depth of the deflection head 74, and therefore the number of layers of plasterboard, will be determined by the desired or required maximum vertical movement. The plasterboard of the deflection head 74 is fire rated.

To construct a stud frame 4 to form a wall 2 the deflection head 74 is fixed directly to a ceiling soffit or underside of the ceiling. The head track channel 42 is then fixed through the deflection head 74 into the inherited structure, i.e. the ceiling, to provide a strong fixing. The base track 40 is fixed to a floor such that the base track 40 is aligned vertically with and parallel to the head track 38. A pair of upright stud members 8 are disposed at the ends of the head track 38 and the base track 40. In particular, a first upright stud member 8a extends between the first end 44 of the head track 38 and the first end 60 of the base track 40 and a second upright stud member 8b extends between the second end 46 of the head track 38 and the second end 62 of the base track 40. Typically, the upright members 8a, 8b at the ends of the head track 38 and base track 40 will be disposed adjacent adjoining walls of the building. Additional upright stud members 8 are then inserted into the base track 40 and head track 38 between the end pair of upright stud members 8a, 8b.

The upright stud members 8 are not fixed to the base track 40 or the head track 38 with mechanical fasteners. Instead, there is a friction fit of the ends of the upright stud members 8 between the side plates 68, 52 of the base track 40 and the head track 38, respectively. In particular, a spacing or gap between the side plates 68, 52 of each of the base track 40 and the head track 38 is such that the side plates 68, 52 grip the respective ends of the upright stud members 8 when they are disposed within the header channel 42 and base channel 58. The resilience of the side plates 68, 52, due to the shape of the header channel 42 and the base channel 58, and the material from which they are made, means that the side plates 68, 52 can be forced apart to insert the ends of the upright stud members 8 between the side plates 68, 52, and the side plates 68, 52 are then biased to return to a position in which they grip the stud member 8.

The length of each of the upright stud members 8 is such that when a first, lower end of the stud member 8 is fully inserted into the base channel 58 there is a gap 80 between the second, upper end of the stud member 8 and a second surface 82 of the top plate 50 of the head track 38. The size or depth of this gap 80 is substantially that same as the depth or thickness of the deflection head 74. The gap 80 is designed to accommodate vertical sliding movement of the end of the stud member 8 within the head track 38 caused by vertical forces applied to the wall 2. In other words the gap 80 between the end of the stud member 8 and the head track 38 permits vertical deflection or movement of the head track 38 relative to the upright stud members 8 due to external forces applied to the wall 2.

The additional upright stud members 8 disposed along the length of the wall 2 are positioned such that the stud members 8 support the wall sheathing 6. Preferably the stud members 8 are located at the edges of each of the sheathing boards used to cover the wall 2 and at the centre of the board width. These upright stud members 8 are accurately positioned so that the when two sheets of sheathing board are erected adjacent to each other a stud member 8 will support the edges of both adjoining sheets.

The wall sheathing 6 preferably comprises sheets of plasterboard. A height or vertical dimension of the sheathing boards is equal to the distance between the top plate 50 of the head track 38 (underside of the deflection head 74) and the floor, as shown most clearly in Figures 1 and 2. The sheathing boards are fixed to the upright stud members 8. Preferably the sheathing boards are fixed to the upright stud members 8 using suitable mechanical fasteners 84 such as screws. Importantly, the sheathing boards are only fixed to the upright stud members 8 and not to either the head track 38 or the base track 40.

As shown most clearly in Figures 1 and 2, an upper edge region of each of the sheathing boards extends over an external surface of the side plates 52 of the head track 38. As such, a part of each of the side plates 52 of the header channel 42 is gripped or clamped between the upper end of an upright stud member 8 and the upper edge region of a sheathing board. Similarly, a lower edge region of each of the sheathing boards extends over an external surface of the side plates 68 of the base track 40. As such, a part of each of the side plates 68 of the base channel 58 is gripped or clamped between the lower end of an upright stud member 8 and the lower edge region of a sheathing board.

In the event of deflection or movement in the building, a vertical force is imposed on the deflection head 74 forcing the head track 38 to move downwards relative to the upright stud members 8. Consequently, as the deflection head 74 and head track 38 move downwards the upper edge region of the sheathing board slides over the side plates 52 of the head track 38 and over the deflection head 74. Relative vertical movement of the head track 38, stud members 8 and sheathing 6 is limited by contact between an upper edge of the sheathing boards and the ceiling soffit or underside of the ceiling. This distance is predetermined by the depth of the deflection head 74 and the depth of the gap 50 in the header channel 42. This distance is predetermined according to the specification of the building.

The issues that arise with this system are that each upright stud member 8 has to be accurately cut to length to allow for the required vertical movement. Failure to make this allowance, i.e. having an upright stud member 8 that is too long such that the gap 80 between the end of the stud member 8 and the head track 38 is too small, may result in contact between the end of the stud member 8 with the head track 38 and, in some cases, may result in deformation of the upright stud members 8 when building movement occurs.

A further consideration is that build tolerance of both the floors and ceilings are typically greater than the expected deflection movement. Accordingly, each upright stud member 8 has to be cut at its known position within the stud frame 4. This adds complexity and time to the construction of the stud frame 4 and internal wall 2.

Because, in most cases, both the head track 38 and the upright stud members 8 are manufactured from steel, when relative movement between the stud members 8 and the head track 38 occurs, sound is generated, resulting in undesirable noise emanating from the walls 2. In some cases, the sound may be transferred through the structure of the building such that occupants of the building misinterpret the sound as emanating from the floors.

It will be appreciated from the above description that conventional methods of constructing internal walls 2 only considers and makes allowances for a downward or vertical force being applied to the wall 2. No provision is made for either side-to-side (horizontal) movement of the wall 2, due to pure horizontal forces, or more complex movement of the wall structure, due to a combination of vertical and horizontal forces. Clearly, in these cases, as there is no part of the structure of the wall 2 that can accommodate this movement, the forces cause movement (e.g. bending and twisting) of the stud members 8 themselves, which creates increased sound levels. The present invention provides a plurality of stud connectors that may be used to form movable connections between stud members within a stud frame of a wall. In particular the connectors may be used to provide a movable connection between two adjacent and connected stud members, between a stud member and the head track, or between a stud member and the base track. The connectors may be used to connect conventional stud members 8, base tracks 40 and head tracks 38, such as those described above.

A first embodiment of a stud connector 100, in the form of a fixed stud connector 100 is shown in Figures 8 and 9. The fixed stud connector 100 is designed to connect an end of a stud member 8 to a base track. In particular, the fixed stud connector 100 connects the stud member 8 to the base track such that the longitudinal axis of the stud member 8 is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the base track. The fixed stud connector 100 permits movement of the stud member 8 relative to the base track in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8, but prevents movement of the stud member 8 relative to the base track in a direction parallel to the axis of the base track.

The fixed stud connector 100 is preferably of unitary, one-piece construction. The fixed stud connector 100 comprises a main body portion 102 and an attachment portion 104.

The main body portion 102 comprises a tubular member 106. The tubular member 106 extends between first and second ends 108, 110 along a longitudinal axis 112 of the tubular member 106. The tubular member 106 may be of any suitable length (parallel to the longitudinal axis) dependent on the desired or predicted range of movement between a stud member 8 and the connector 100.

The tubular member 106 has a substantially rectangular cross-sectional shape transverse to the axis 112. In this embodiment the tubular member 106 comprises opposite first and second side walls 114, 116, and opposite third and fourth side walls 118, 120. The side walls 114, 116, 118, 120 surround and define a bore 122 of the tubular member 106. Preferably an outer perimeter of the tubular member 106 is substantially rectangular and an inner perimeter of the tubular member 106, or perimeter of the bore 122, is substantially rectangular.

Each of the side walls 114, 116, 118, 120 extends between the first and second ends 108, 110 in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis 112 and between first and second side edges 124, 126 in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 112. A width of the fourth side wall 120 (between first and second side edges 124, 126) is preferably substantially equal to a distance between internal surfaces of the side walls 14 of the stud member 8.

A first slot 128 is provided in the first side edge 124 of the third side wall 118 of the tubular member 106. The first slot 128 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 118. As such, the first slot 128 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 118 in a direction towards the second side edge 126 of the third side wall 118. The distance that the slot 128 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 128. The first slot 128 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 112 of the tubular member 106. The distance that the slot 128 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 128. In this embodiment the slot 128 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 106.

In this embodiment the main body 102 further comprises a second slot 130 provided in the second side edge 126 of the third side wall 118 of the tubular member 106. The second slot 130 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 118. As such, the second slot 130 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 118 in a direction towards the first side edge 124 of the third side wall 118. The distance that the slot 130 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 130. The second slot 130 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 112 of the tubular member 106. The distance that the slot 130 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 130. In this embodiment the slot 130 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 106.

The first and second slots 128, 130 are aligned with each other, such that the first and second slots 128, 130 lie in the same plane.

A width of each of the slots 128, 130 is defined as the distance in a third direction perpendicular to both the first direction and the second direction. The dimensions of each of the first and second slots 128, 130 are such that a lip 26 of a stud member 8 is receivable and engageable in the slot 128, 130, as described further below.

A distance between an outer surface of the fourth side wall 120 and each of the slots 128, 130 is preferably substantially equal to a distance between an internal surface of the base plate 12 of the stud member 8 and the lip 26b extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8.

The attachment portion 104 of the fixed stud connector 100 comprises a base plate 132. In this embodiment the base plate 132 is substantially rectangular and has opposite first and second side edges 134 and opposite first and second end edges 136, 138. The base plate 132 further comprises opposite first and second faces 140.

A length of each of the first and second side edges 134 and the first and second end edges 136, 138 of the base plate 132 is greater than a width (a distance between first and second side edges 124, 126) of the third and fourth side walls 118, 120 of the tubular member 106.

The tubular member 106 extends from the first face 140 of the base plate 132, such that the longitudinal axis 112 of the tubular member 106 is perpendicular to a plane of the base plate 132. The fourth side wall 120 of the tubular member 106 is aligned with the first end edge 136 of the base plate 132. In particular, an outer surface of the fourth side wall 120 of the tubular member 106 is co-planar and continuous with the first end edge 136 of the base plate 132.

The dimensions of the base plate 132 are such that a region of the base plate 132 extends from and beyond the third side wall 118 of the tubular member 106. In this embodiment two fixing holes 142 are provided in this region. These fixing holes 142 are configured to receive suitable mechanical fasteners to secure the attachment portion 104 of the connector 100 to a base track, as described below.

In use, the fixed stud connector 100 is secured to a base track of a stud frame. In particular, the attachment portion 104 of the connector 100 is fixed to the base track using suitable mechanical fasteners, such as screws, inserted through the fixing holes 142 in the base plate 132. An end portion of a stud member 8 is engaged with the main body portion 102 of the connector 100, as illustrated in Figure 9.

The end portion of the stud member 8 slidingly engages with the tubular member 106 such that the first, second and fourth side walls 114, 116, 120 of the tubular member 106 are disposed within the channel member 10 of the stud member 8. The dimensions of the tubular member 106 are such that the lip 26b extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8 locates in the first slot 128 in the third side wall 118 of the tubular member 106. Because the height of the first side wall 14a of the stud member 8 is greater than the height of the second side wall 14b, the dimensions of the tubular member 106 are such that the lip 26a extending from the first side wall 14a extends over an outer surface of the third side wall 118 of the tubular member 106.

Engagement of the tubular member 106 with the stud member 8 in this way means that the stud member 8 is able to slide with respect to the tubular member 106 in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8 (and parallel to the axis 112 of the tubular member 106).

It will be appreciated that first and second slots 128, 130 are provided in the main body 102 of the connector 100 to enable the connector 100 to be engaged with either of the first and second ends of the stud member 8.

When a stud member 8 is connected to a base track using the fixed stud connector 100 horizontal movement (in a direction parallel to the axis of the base track) of the stud member 8 with respect to the base track is prevented due to the attachment portion 104 of the connector 100 being fixed securely to the base track. Vertical movement (in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8) of the stud member 8 with respect to the base track is, however, permitted due to the sliding engagement of the stud member 8 with the main body 102 of the connector 100.

The length of the tubular member 106 may be such that the connector 100 can accommodate a greater vertical displacement of the stud member 8 than that expected due to external loadings. This means that the stud member 8 does not have to be cut to length as accurately as in conventional, prior art systems. The fixed stud connector 100 can therefore accommodate vertical movement of the stud member 8 due to vertical external loads applied to the wall, as well as expansion of the stud member 8 along its axis due to temperature changes, such as those experienced during a fire, for example. These thermal expansions can be significant, with a 2.4 m length stud member expanding up to 14 mm in a longitudinal direction.

The fixed stud connector 100 is preferably made from a suitable non-metallic material. The non-metallic material is preferably flame retardant and self extinguishing. Additionally the material will have sufficient rigidity and strength that the connector is rigid and has the necessary structural integrity. Preferably the non-metallic material comprises nylon (polyamide 6 or polyamide 66). In preferred embodiments the nylon is glass-reinforced for increased strength. The material of the connector 100 preferably not only assists in creating a smooth sliding motion between the stud member 8 and the tubular member 106 of the connector 100, but also helps to isolate any sound transference through the stud frame of the wall. This increases the acoustic performance of the wall system and reduces the possibility of sound transference that would be undesirable or unacceptable to inhabitants or users of the building.

A second embodiment of a stud connector 200, in the form of a sliding stud connector 200 is shown in Figures 10 and 11. The sliding stud connector 200 is designed to connect an end of a stud member 8 to a base track 40. In particular, the sliding stud connector 200 connects the stud member 8 to the base track 40 such that the longitudinal axis of the stud member 8 is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the base track 40. The sliding stud connector 200 permits movement of the stud member 8 relative to the base track 40 in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8, as well as movement of the stud member 8 relative to the base track 40 in a direction parallel to the axis of the base track 40.

The sliding stud connector 200 is preferably of unitary, one-piece construction. The sliding stud connector 200 comprises a main body portion 202 and an attachment portion 204.

The main body portion 202 comprises a tubular member 206. The tubular member 206 extends between first and second ends 208, 210 along a longitudinal axis 212 of the tubular member 206. The tubular member 206 may be of any suitable length (parallel to the longitudinal axis 212) dependent on the desired or predicted range of movement between a stud member 8 and the connector 200.

The tubular member 206 has a substantially rectangular cross-sectional shape transverse to the axis 212. In this embodiment the tubular member 206 comprises opposite first and second side walls 214, 216, and opposite third and fourth side walls 218, 220. The side walls 214, 216, 218, 220 surround and define a bore 222 of the tubular member 206. Preferably an outer perimeter of the tubular member 206 is substantially rectangular and an inner perimeter of the tubular member 206, or perimeter of the bore 222, is substantially rectangular.

Each of the side walls 214, 216, 218, 220 extends between the first and second ends 208, 210 in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis 212 and between first and second side edges 224, 226 in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 212. A width of the fourth side wall 220 (between first and second side edges 224, 226) is preferably substantially equal to a distance between internal surfaces of the side walls 14 of the stud member 8.

A first slot 228 is provided in the first side edge 224 of the third side wall 218 of the tubular member 206. The first slot 228 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 218. As such, the first slot 228 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 218 in a direction towards the second side edge 226 of the third side wall 218. The distance that the slot 228 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 228. The first slot 228 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 212 of the tubular member 206. The distance that the slot 228 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 228. In this embodiment the slot 228 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 206.

In this embodiment the main body 202 further comprises a second slot 230 provided in the second side edge 226 of the third side wall 218 of the tubular member 206. The second slot 230 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 218. As such, the second slot 230 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 218 in a direction towards the first side edge 224 of the third side wall 218. The distance that the slot 230 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 230. The second slot 230 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 212 of the tubular member 206. The distance that the slot 230 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 230. In this embodiment the slot 230 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 206.

The first and second slots 228, 230 are aligned with each other, such that the first and second slots 228, 230 lie in the same plane.

A width of each of the slots 228, 230 is defined as the distance in a third direction perpendicular to both the first direction and the second direction. The dimensions of each of the first and second slots 228, 230 are such that a lip 26 of a stud member 8 is receivable and engageable in the slot 228, 230, as described further below.

A distance between the outer surface of the fourth side wall 230 and each of the slots 228, 230 is preferably substantially equal to a distance between an internal surface of the base plate 12 of the stud member and the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8. The attachment portion 204 of the sliding stud connector 200 comprises a base plate 232. In this embodiment the base plate 232 is substantially circular and has opposite first and second faces 240. A diameter of the base plate 232 is greater than a width (a distance between first and second side edges 224, 226) of the third and fourth side walls 218, 220 of the tubular member 206.

The tubular member 206 extends from the first face 240 of the base plate 232, such that the longitudinal axis 212 of the tubular member 206 is perpendicular to a plane of the base plate 232. The tubular member 206 is preferably centrally positioned on the base plate 232 such that a perimeter region of the base plate 232 extends fully around the perimeter of the tubular member 206.

In use, the sliding stud connector 200 is secured to a base track 40 of a stud frame, as illustrated in Figure 11. In particular, the attachment portion 204 of the connector 200 is located and received between the side plates 68 of the base channel 58. An end portion of a stud member 8 is engaged with the main body portion 202 of the connector 200.

The end portion of the stud member 8 slidingly engages with the tubular member 206 such that the first, second and fourth side walls 214, 216, 220 of the tubular member 206 are disposed within the channel member 10 of the stud 8. The dimensions of the tubular member 206 are such that the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8 locates in the first slot 228 in the third side wall 218 of the tubular member 206. Because the height of the first side wall 14a of the stud member 8 is greater than the height of the second side wall 14b, the dimensions of the tubular member 206 are such that the lip 26a extending from the first side wall 14a extends over an outer surface of the third side wall 218 of the tubular member 206.

Engagement of the tubular member 206 with the stud member 8 in this way means that the stud member 8 is able to slide with respect to the tubular member 206 in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8 (and parallel to the axis 212 of the tubular member 206).

It will be appreciated that first and second slots 228, 230 are provided in the main body 202 of the connector 200 to enable the connector 200 to be engaged with either of the first and second ends of the stud member 8. When a stud member 8 is connected to a base track 40 using the sliding stud connector 200 both horizontal movement (in a direction parallel to the axis of the base track 40) and vertical movement (in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8) of the stud member 8 with respect to the base track 40 is permitted. In particular, the attachment portion 204 of the connector 200 is able to slide freely along the base track 40 in a direction parallel to the axis of the base track 40, such that horizontal movement of the stud member 8 in this direction can be accommodated. Vertical movement of the stud member 8 with respect to the base track 40 is accommodated by the sliding engagement of the stud member 8 with the main body 202 of the connector 200.

The length of the tubular member 206 may be such that the connector 200 can accommodate a greater vertical displacement of the stud member 8 than that expected due to external loadings. This means that the stud member 8 does not have to be cut to length as accurately as in conventional, prior art systems. The sliding stud connector 200 can therefore accommodate vertical movement of the stud member 8 due to vertical external loads applied to the wall, as well as expansion of the stud member 8 along its axis due to temperature changes, such as those experienced during a fire, for example. These thermal expansions can be significant, with a 2.4 m length stud member expanding up to 14 mm in a longitudinal direction.

The sliding stud connector 200 is preferably made from a suitable non-metallic material. The non-metallic material is preferably flame retardant and self extinguishing. Additionally the material will have sufficient rigidity and strength that the connector is rigid and has the necessary structural integrity. Preferably the non-metallic material comprises nylon (polyamide 6 or polyamide 66). In preferred embodiments the nylon is glass-reinforced for increased strength. The material of the connector 200 preferably not only assists in creating a smooth sliding motion both between the stud member 8 and the tubular member 206 of the connector 200 and between the connector 200 and the base track 40, but also helps to isolate any sound transference through the stud frame of the wall. This increases the acoustic performance of the wall system and reduces the possibility of sound transference that would be undesirable or unacceptable to inhabitants or users of the building.

A third embodiment of a stud connector 300, in the form of a vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 is shown in Figures 12 to 14. The vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 is designed to connect an end of a vertical or upright stud member 8 to a horizontal stud member or to a head track 38’. In particular, the vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 connects the vertical stud member 8 to the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ such that the longitudinal axis of the vertical stud member 8 is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the horizontal stud member or head track 38’. The vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 permits movement of the vertical stud member 8 relative to the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ in a direction parallel to the axis of the vertical stud member 8, as well as movement of the vertical stud member 8 relative to the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ in a direction parallel to the axis of the horizontal stud member or head track 38’.

In embodiments in which this connector 300 is used to connect a vertical stud member 8 to a head track 38’ it will be appreciated that the head track 38’ will have the same shape, configuration and profile as a stud member 8. In other words, the head track 38 will comprise a stud member extending horizontally, with the base plate of the channel member uppermost and the opening 34’ of the channel member below the base plate of the channel member.

The vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 is preferably of unitary, one-piece construction. The vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 comprises a main body portion 302 and an attachment portion 304.

The main body portion 302 comprises a tubular member 306. The tubular member 306 extends between first and second ends 308, 310 along a longitudinal axis 312 of the tubular member 306. The tubular member 306 may be of any suitable length (parallel to the longitudinal axis 312) dependent on the desired or predicted range of movement between a vertical stud member 8 and the connector 312.

The tubular member 306 has a substantially rectangular cross-sectional shape transverse to the axis 312. In this embodiment the tubular member 306 comprises opposite first and second side walls 314, 316, and opposite third and fourth side walls 318, 320. The side walls 314, 316, 318, 320 surround and define a bore 322 of the tubular member 306. Preferably an outer perimeter of the tubular member 306 is substantially rectangular and an inner perimeter of the tubular member 306, or perimeter of the bore 322, is substantially rectangular.

Each of the side walls 314, 316, 318, 320 extends between the first and second ends 308, 310 in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis 312 and between first and second side edges 324, 326 in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 312. A width of the fourth side wall 320 and a width of the third side wall 318 (between first and second side edges 324, 326) is preferably substantially equal to a distance between internal surfaces of the side walls 14 of the stud member 8.

A first slot 328 is provided in the first side edge 324 of the third side wall 318 of the tubular member 306. The first slot 328 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 318. As such, the first slot 328 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 318 in a direction towards the second side edge 326 of the third side wall 318. The distance that the slot 328 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 328. The first slot 328 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 312 of the tubular member 306. The distance that the slot 328 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 328. In this embodiment the slot 328 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 306.

In this embodiment the main body 302 further comprises a second slot 330 provided in the second side edge 326 of the third side wall 318 of the tubular member 306. The second slot 330 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 318. As such, the second slot 330 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 318 in a direction towards the first side edge 324 of the third side wall 318. The distance that the slot 330 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 330. The second slot 330 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 312 of the tubular member 306. The distance that the slot 330 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 330. In this embodiment the slot 330 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 306.

In preferred embodiments the main body 302 further comprises third and fourth slots 342, 344. In these embodiments the third slot 342 is provided in the first side edge 324 of the fourth side wall 320 of the tubular member 306. The third slot 342 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the fourth side wall 320. As such, the third slot 342 extends in a first direction into the fourth side wall 320 in a direction towards the second side edge 326 of the fourth side wall 320. The distance that the slot 342 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 342. The third slot 342 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 312 of the tubular member 306. The distance that the slot 342 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 342. The third slot 342 preferably extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 306. The fourth slot 344 is provided in the second side edge 326 of the fourth side wall 320 of the tubular member 306. The fourth slot 344 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the fourth side wall 320. As such, the fourth slot 344 extends in a first direction into the fourth side wall 320 in a direction towards the first side edge 324 of the fourth side wall 320. The distance that the slot 344 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 344. The fourth slot 344 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 312 of the tubular member 306. The distance that the slot 344 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 344. The fourth slot 344 preferably extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 306.

A width of each of the slots 328, 330, 342, 344 is defined as the distance in a third direction perpendicular to both the first direction and the second direction. The dimensions of each of the first, second, third and fourth slots 328, 330, 342, 344 are such that a lip 26 of a stud member 8 is receivable and engageable in the slot 328, 330, 342, 344, as described further below.

A distance between the outer surface of the fourth side wall 320 and the first and/or second slots 328, 330 is preferably substantially equal to a distance between an internal surface of the base plate 12 of the stud member 8 and the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8. Similarly, a distance between the outer surface of the third side wall 318 and the third and/or fourth slots 342, 344 is preferably substantially equal to a distance between an internal surface of the base plate 12 of the stud member 8 and the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8.

The attachment portion 304 of the vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 comprises a base plate 332. In this embodiment the base plate 332 forms a cap at the first end 308 of the tubular member 306. In particular, the base plate 332 has a perimeter having the same shape and dimensions as the external shape and dimensions of the tubular member 306. The tubular member 306 extends from a first face of the base plate 332, such that the longitudinal axis 312 of the tubular member 306 is perpendicular to a plane of the base plate 332.

The attachment portion 304 further comprises a locking element 346. The locking element 346 extends from a second face 341 of the base plate 332. The locking element 346 is lozenge-shaped and includes opposite first and second side walls 348, 349, and opposite first and second end walls 350, 351.

The first side wall 348 is disposed proximate and extends parallel to the third side wall 318 of the tubular member 306. The second side wall 349 is disposed proximate and extends parallel to the fourth side wall 320 of the tubular member 306. In this embodiment the distance between the first and second side walls 348, 349 of the locking element 346 is slightly smaller than the distance between the outer surfaces of the third and fourth side walls 318, 320 of the tubular member 306.

The first end wall 350 of the locking element 346 is disposed proximate the first side wall 314 of the tubular member 306 and extends at an angle to the first side wall 314 of the tubular member 306, the angle being other than 0° or 90°, and the angle being between 0° and 90°. Preferably the angle is between 10° and 45°. The second end wall 351 of the locking element 346 is disposed proximate the second side wall 316 of the tubular member 306 and extends at an angle to the second side wall 316 of the tubular member 306, the angle being other than 0° or 90°, and the angle being between 0° and 90°. Preferably the angle is between 10° and 45°. The first end wall 350 of the locking element 346 extends parallel to the second end wall 351 of the locking element 346.

In this way, there is a first, acute angle (between 0° and 90°) between the first end wall 350 and the second side wall 349 of the locking element 346 and between the second end wall 351 and the first side wall 348 of the locking element 346, forming opposite first and second vertices 352, 353 of the locking element 346, and there is a second, obtuse angle (between 90° and 180°) between the first end wall 350 and the first side wall 348 of the locking element 346 and between the second end wall 351 and the second side wall 349 of the locking element 346, forming opposite third and fourth vertices 354, 355 of the locking element 346. A distance between the third and fourth vertices 354, 355 is less than a distance between the first and second vertices 352, 353.

The locking element 346 includes an undercut 356 at each of the first and second vertices 352, 353. A first undercut 356a defines a first locking wing 358a of the locking element 346 and a second undercut 356b defines a second locking wing 358b of the locking element 346. Each of the first and second locking wings 358a, 358b extends from a stem portion 359 of the locking element 346. In this embodiment each of the first and second wings 358a, 358b extends from a clearance surface 360 of the stem portion 359.

In use, the vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 is secured to an end of a stud member 8, as illustrated in Figure 13. In particular, an end portion of the stud member 8 is engaged with the main body portion 302 of the connector 300. The end portion of the stud member 8 slidingly engages with the tubular member 306 such that the first, second and fourth side walls 314, 316, 320 of the tubular member 306 are disposed within the channel member 10 of the stud 8. The dimensions of the tubular member 306 are such that the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8 locates in the first slot 328 in the third side wall 318 of the tubular member 306. Because the height of the first side wall 14a of the stud member 8 is greater than the height of the second side wall 14b, the dimensions of the tubular member 306 are such that the lip 26a extending from the first side wall 14a extends over an outer surface of the third side wall 318 of the tubular member 306.

Engagement of the tubular member 306 with the stud member 8 in this way means that the stud member 8 is able to slide with respect to the tubular member 306 in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8 (and parallel to the axis 312 of the tubular member 306).

The stud member 8 engaged with the tubular member 306 of the connector 300 will form a vertical stud member 8 of a stud frame of a wall. To connect the vertical stud member 8 to a horizontal stud member or a head track 38’ the locking element 346 of the connector 300 is engaged with the horizontal stud member or head track 38’.

In particular, the locking element 346 of the connector 300 is inserted through the opening 34’ of the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ with the connector 300 in a first orientation. In the first orientation the first and second side walls 348, 349 of the locking element 346 are preferably substantially parallel to first and second side walls 14’ of the horizontal stud member or head track 38’. With the locking element 346 within the channel of the horizontal stud member or head track 38’, the connector 300 is rotated such that the connector 300 is in a second orientation. In the second orientation the first and second side walls 348, 349 of the locking element 346 are preferably substantially perpendicular to the first and second side walls 14’ of the horizontal stud member or head track 38’. In preferred embodiments, therefore, the connector 300 is preferably rotated through about 90° about its longitudinal axis 312 between the first and second orientations.

With the connector 300 in the second orientation a part of each of the first and second lips 26’ of the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ is disposed in a respective one of the first and second undercuts 356a, 356b. In this way, a part of the first lip 26a’ is disposed between the first locking wing 358a and the base plate 332 of the attachment portion 304 of the connector 300 and a part of the second lip 26b’ is disposed between the second locking wing 358b and the base plate 332 of the attachment portion 304 of the connector 300.

It will be appreciated that the first and second slots 328, 330 are provided in the main body 302 of the connector 300 to enable the connector 300 to be engaged with either of the first and second ends of the stud member 8. The third and fourth slots 342, 344 are provided in the main body 302 to enable the vertical stud member 8 (at either of its first or second ends) to be connected to the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ in a first orientation (in which the opening of the vertical stud member faces in a direction towards the first end of the horizontal stud member of head track) or in a second orientation (in which the opening of the vertical stud member faces in a direction towards the second end of the horizontal stud member of head track).

When a vertical stud member 8 is connected to a horizontal stud member or head track 38’ using the vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 both horizontal movement (in a direction parallel to the axis of the horizontal stud member or head track 38’) and vertical movement (in a direction parallel to the axis 312 of the vertical stud member 8) of the vertical stud member 8 with respect to the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ is permitted. In particular, the attachment portion 304 of the connector 300 is able to slide freely along the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ in a direction parallel to the axis 312 of the horizontal stud member or head track 38’, such that horizontal movement of the vertical stud member 8 in this direction can be accommodated. Vertical movement of the vertical stud member 8 with respect to the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ is accommodated by the sliding engagement of the vertical stud member 8 with the main body 302 of the connector 300.

The length of the tubular member 306 may be such that the connector 300 can accommodate a greater vertical displacement of the vertical stud member 8 than that expected due to external loadings. This means that the vertical stud member 8 does not have to be cut to length as accurately as in conventional, prior art systems. The vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 can therefore accommodate vertical movement of the vertical stud member 8 due to vertical external loads applied to the wall, as well as expansion of the vertical stud member 8 along its axis due to temperature changes, such as those experienced during a fire, for example. These thermal expansions can be significant, with a 2.4 m length stud member expanding up to 14 mm in a longitudinal direction. The vertical stud-to-stud connector 300 is preferably made from a suitable non-metallic material. The non-metallic material is preferably flame retardant and self extinguishing. Additionally the material will have sufficient rigidity and strength that the connector is rigid and has the necessary structural integrity. Preferably the non-metallic material comprises nylon (polyamide 6 or polyamide 66). In preferred embodiments the nylon is glass- reinforced for increased strength. The material of the connector 300 preferably not only assists in creating a smooth sliding motion both between the vertical stud member 8 and the tubular member 306 of the connector 300 and between the connector 300 and the horizontal stud member or head track 38’, but also helps to isolate any sound transference through the stud frame of the wall. This increases the acoustic performance of the wall system and reduces the possibility of sound transference that would be undesirable or unacceptable to inhabitants or users of the building.

A fourth embodiment of a stud connector 400, in the form of a horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 is shown in Figures 15 to 17. The horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 is designed to connect an end of a horizontal or transverse stud member 8H to a vertical stud member 8V. In particular, the horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 connects the horizontal stud member 8H to the vertical stud member 8V such that the longitudinal axis of the horizontal stud member 8H is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the vertical stud member 8V. The horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 permits movement of the horizontal stud member 8H relative to the vertical stud member 8V in a direction parallel to the axis of the horizontal stud member 8H, but prevents movement of the horizontal stud member 8H relative to the vertical stud member 8V in a direction parallel to the axis of the vertical stud member 8V.

The horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 is preferably of unitary, one-piece construction. The horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 comprises a main body portion 402 and an attachment portion 404.

The main body portion 402 comprises a tubular member 406. The tubular member 406 extends between first and second ends 408, 410 along a longitudinal axis 412 of the tubular member 406. The tubular member 406 may be of any suitable length (parallel to the longitudinal axis 412) dependent on the desired or predicted range of movement between a horizontal stud member 8H and the connector 400. The tubular member 406 has a substantially rectangular cross-sectional shape transverse to the axis 412. In this embodiment the tubular member 406 comprises opposite first and second side walls 414, 416, and opposite third and fourth side walls 418, 420. The side walls 414, 416, 418, 420 surround and define a bore 422 of the tubular member 406. Preferably an outer perimeter of the tubular member 406 is substantially rectangular and an inner perimeter of the tubular member 406, or perimeter of the bore 422, is substantially rectangular.

Each of the side walls 414, 416, 418, 420 extends between the first and second ends 408, 410 in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis 412 and between first and second side edges 424, 426 in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 412.

A width of the fourth side wall 420 (between first and second side edges 424, 426) is preferably substantially equal to a distance between internal surfaces of the side walls 14 of the stud member 8.

A first slot 428 is provided in the first side edge 424 of the third side wall 418 of the tubular member 406. The first slot 428 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 418. As such, the first slot 428 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 418 in a direction towards the second side edge 426 of the third side wall 418. The distance that the slot 428 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 428. The first slot 428 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 412 of the tubular member 406. The distance that the slot 428 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 428. In this embodiment the slot 428 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 406.

In this embodiment the main body 402 further comprises a second slot 430 provided in the second side edge 426 of the third side wall 418 of the tubular member 406. The second slot 430 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 418. As such, the second slot 430 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 418 in a direction towards the first side edge 424 of the third side wall 418. The distance that the slot 430 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 430. The second slot 430 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 412 of the tubular member 406. The distance that the slot 430 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 430. In this embodiment the slot 430 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 406. The first and second slots 428, 430 are aligned with each other, such that the first and second slots 428, 430 lie in the same plane.

A width of each of the slots 428, 430 is defined as the distance in a third direction perpendicular to both the first direction and the second direction. The dimensions of each of the first and second slots 428, 430 are such that a lip 26 of a stud member 8 is receivable and engageable in the slot 428, 430, as described further below.

A distance between the outer surface of the fourth side wall 420 and each of the slots 428, 430 is preferably substantially equal to a distance between an internal surface of the base plate 12 of the stud member 8 and the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8.

The attachment portion 404 of the horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 comprises a base plate 432. In this embodiment the base plate 432 is substantially rectangular and has opposite first and second side edges 434 and opposite first and second end edges 436, 438. The base plate 432 further comprises opposite first and second faces 440, 441.

A length of each of the first and second side edges 343 is slightly greater than a width (a distance between first and second side edges 424, 426) of the third and fourth side walls 418, 420 of the tubular member 406. A length of each of the first and second end edges 436, 438 is slightly greater than a width (a distance between first and second side edges 424, 426) of the first and second side walls 414, 416 of the tubular member 406.

The tubular member 406 extends from the first face 440 of the base plate 432, such that the longitudinal axis 412 of the tubular member 406 is perpendicular to a plane of the base plate 432. The third and fourth side walls 418, 420 of the tubular member 406 are substantially parallel to the first and second side edges 434 of the base plate 432 and the first and second side walls 414, 416 of the tubular member 406 are substantially parallel to the first and second end edges 436, 438 of the base plate 432.

The attachment portion 404 further comprises a pair of brace plates 462. A first brace plate 462 extends from the second face 441 of the base plate 432 at the first end edge 436 of the base plate 432. A second brace plate 462 extends from the second face 441 of the base plate 432 at the second end edge 438 of the base plate 432. The first and second brace plates 462 extend substantially perpendicularly to the base plate 432 and parallel to each other.

Each of the brace plates 462 is planar and includes a first face 463 and an opposite second face 464. The first faces 463 of the brace plates 462 face inwardly towards each other and the second faces 464 of the brace plates 462 face outwardly away from each other. A distance between the first faces 463 of the first and second brace plates 462 is substantially the same as the distance between outer surfaces of the first and second side walls 14 of a stud member 8.

A fixing hole 442 is provided in each of the first and second brace plates 462. Preferably the fixing holes 442 are aligned. The fixing holes 442 are configured to receive suitable mechanical fasteners to secure the attachment portion 404 of the connector 400 to a vertical stud member 8V, as described below.

In use, the horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 is secured to a stud member 8, as illustrated in Figure 16. In particular, an end portion of a stud member 8 is engaged with the main body portion 402 of the connector 400.

The end portion of the stud member 8 slidingly engages with the tubular member 406 such that the first, second and fourth side walls 414, 416, 420 of the tubular member 406 are disposed within the channel member 10 of the stud member 8. The dimensions of the tubular member 406 are such that the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8 locates in the first slot 428 in the third side wall 418 of the tubular member 406. Because the height of the first side wall 14a of the stud member 8 is greater than the height of the second side wall 14b, the dimensions of the tubular member 406 are such that the lip 26a extending from the first side wall 14a extends over an outer surface of the third side wall 418 of the tubular member 406.

Engagement of the tubular member 406 with the stud member 8 in this way means that the stud member 8 is able to slide with respect to the tubular member 406 in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8 (and parallel to the axis 412 of the tubular member 406).

It will be appreciated that first and second slots 428, 430 are provided in the main body 402 of the connector 400 to enable the connector 400 to be engaged with either of the first and second ends of the stud member 8. The stud member 8 engaged with the tubular member 406 of the connector 400 will form a horizontal stud member 8H of a stud frame of a wall. To connect the horizontal stud member 8H to a vertical stud member 8V the attachment portion 404 of the connector 400 is secured to the vertical stud member 8V.

The brace plates 462 are located around the vertical stud member 8V such that the first face 463 of the first brace plate 462 is in contact with or lies adjacent to the outer surface of one of the side walls 14 of the vertical stud member 8V and the first face 463 of the second brace plate 462 is in contact with or lies adjacent to the outer surface of the other one of the side walls 14 of the vertical stud member 8V. The attachment portion 404 of the connector 400 is then fixed to the vertical stud member 8V using suitable mechanical fasteners, such as screws, inserted through the fixing holes 442 in the brace plates 462.

When a horizontal stud member 8H is connected to a vertical stud member 8V using the horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 vertical movement of the horizontal stud member 8H (in a direction parallel to the axis of the vertical stud member 8V) with respect to the vertical stud member 8V is prevented due to the attachment portion 404 of the connector 400 being fixed securely to the vertical stud member 8V. Horizontal movement of the horizontal stud member 8H (in a direction parallel to the axis of the horizontal stud member 8H) with respect to the vertical stud member 8V is, however, permitted due to the sliding engagement of the horizontal stud member 8H with the main body 402 of the connector 400.

The length of the tubular member 406 may be such that the connector 400 can accommodate a greater horizontal displacement of the horizontal stud member 8H than that expected due to external loadings. This means that the horizontal stud member 8H does not have to be cut to length as accurately as in conventional, prior art systems.

The horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 is preferably made from a suitable non-metallic material. The non-metallic material is preferably flame retardant and self extinguishing. Additionally the material will have sufficient rigidity and strength that the connector is rigid and has the necessary structural integrity. Preferably the non-metallic material comprises nylon (polyamide 6 or polyamide 66). In preferred embodiments the nylon is glass- reinforced for increased strength. The material of the connector 400 preferably not only assists in creating a smooth sliding motion between the horizontal stud member 8H and the tubular member 406 of the connector 400, but also helps to isolate any sound transference through the stud frame of the wall. This increases the acoustic performance of the wall system and reduces the possibility of sound transference that would be undesirable or unacceptable to inhabitants or users of the building.

A fifth embodiment of a stud connector 500, in the form of a compensator connector 500 is shown in Figures 18 and 19. The compensator connector 500 forms part of a compression assembly 566, illustrated in Figures 20 to 23.

The compression assembly 566 is designed to connect an end of a vertical or upright stud member 8V to a horizontal stud member or to a head track 38’ such that any vertical movement is accommodated in the compression assembly 566. In particular, the compression assembly 566 connects the vertical stud member 8V to the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ such that the longitudinal axis of the vertical stud member 8V is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the horizontal stud member or head track 38’.

Referring now to Figures 18 and 19, the compensator connector 500 is preferably of unitary, one-piece construction. The compensator connector 500 comprises a main body portion 502 and an attachment portion 504.

The main body portion 502 comprises a tubular member 506. The tubular member 506 extends between first and second ends 508, 510 along a longitudinal axis 512 of the tubular member 506. The tubular member 506 may be of any suitable length (parallel to the longitudinal axis 512) dependent on the desired or predicted range of movement between a vertical stud member 8V and the connector 500.

The tubular member 506 has a substantially rectangular cross-sectional shape transverse to the axis 512. In this embodiment the tubular member 506 comprises opposite first and second side walls 514, 516, and opposite third and fourth side walls 518, 520. The side walls 514, 516, 518, 520 surround and define a bore 522 of the tubular member 506. Preferably an outer perimeter of the tubular member 506 is substantially rectangular and an inner perimeter of the tubular member 506, or perimeter of the bore 522, is substantially rectangular.

Each of the side walls 514, 516, 518, 520 extends between the first and second ends 508, 510 in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis 512 and between first and second side edges 524, 526 in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 512. A width of the fourth side wall 520 and a width of the third side wall 518 (between first and second side edges 524, 526) is preferably substantially equal to a distance between internal surfaces of the side walls 14 of the stud member 8.

A first slot 528 is provided in the first side edge 524 of the third side wall 518 of the tubular member 506. The first slot 528 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 518. As such, the first slot 528 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 518 in a direction towards the second side edge 526 of the third side wall 518. The distance that the slot 528 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 528. The first slot 528 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 512 of the tubular member 506. The distance that the slot 528 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 528. In this embodiment the slot 528 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 506.

In this embodiment the main body 502 further comprises a second slot 530 provided in the second side edge 526 of the third side wall 518 of the tubular member 506. The second slot 530 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 518. As such, the second slot 530 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 518 in a direction towards the first side edge 524 of the third side wall 518. The distance that the slot 530 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 530. The second slot 530 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 512 of the tubular member 506. The distance that the slot 530 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 530. In this embodiment the slot 530 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 506.

In preferred embodiments the main body 506 further comprises third and fourth slots 542, 544. In these embodiments the third slot 542 is provided in the first side edge 524 of the fourth side wall 520 of the tubular member 506. The third slot 542 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the fourth side wall 520. As such, the third slot 542 extends in a first direction into the fourth side wall 520 in a direction towards the second side edge 526 of the fourth side wall 520. The distance that the slot 542 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 542. The third slot 542 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 512 of the tubular member 506. The distance that the slot 542 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 542. The third slot 542 preferably extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 506. The fourth slot 544 is provided in the second side edge 526 of the fourth side wall 520 of the tubular member 506. The fourth slot 544 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the fourth side wall 520. As such, the fourth slot 544 extends in a first direction into the fourth side wall 520 in a direction towards the first side edge 524 of the fourth side wall 520. The distance that the slot 544 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 544. The fourth slot 544 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 512 of the tubular member 506. The distance that the slot 544 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 544. The fourth slot 544 preferably extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 506.

A width of each of the slots 528, 530, 542, 544 is defined as the distance in a third direction perpendicular to both the first direction and the second direction. The dimensions of each of the first, second, third and fourth slots 528, 530, 542, 544 are such that a lip 26 of a stud member 8 is receivable and engageable in the slot 528, 530, 542, 544, as described further below.

A distance between the outer surface of the fourth side wall 520 and the first and/or second slots 528, 530 is preferably substantially equal to a distance between an internal surface of the base plate 12 of the stud member 8 and the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8. Similarly, a distance between the outer surface of the third side wall 518 and the third and/or fourth slots 542, 544 is preferably substantially equal to a distance between an internal surface of the base plate 12 of the stud member 8 and the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8.

The attachment portion 504 of the compensator connector 500 comprises a base plate 532. In this embodiment the base plate 532 is substantially rectangular and has opposite first and second side edges 534 and opposite first and second end edges 536, 538.

A length of each of the first and second side edges 534 is slightly greater than a width (a distance between first and second side edges 524, 526) of the third and fourth side walls 518, 520 of the tubular member 506. A length of each of the first and second end edges 536, 538 is slightly greater than a width (a distance between first and second side edges 524, 526) of the first and second side walls 514, 516 of the tubular member 506.

The tubular member 506 extends from a first face 540 of the base plate 532, such that the longitudinal axis 512 of the tubular member 506 is perpendicular to a plane of the base plate 532. The third and fourth side walls 518, 520 of the tubular member 506 are substantially parallel to the first and second side edges 534 of the base plate 532 and the first and second side walls 514, 516 of the tubular member 506 are substantially parallel to the first and second end edges 536, 538 of the base plate 532. Preferably the base plate 532 is connected to the tubular member 506 at the first end 508 of the tubular member 506.

The base plate 532 includes a central aperture 568 that forms an opening of a recess 570. The aperture 568 is preferably circular, and the recess 570 is preferably cylindrical. The recess 570 comprises a circumferential side wall 571 and a bottom plate 572. The side wall 571 extends from the first face 540 of the base plate 532 through the bore 522 of the tubular member 506 in a direction towards the second end 510 of the tubular member 506. The side wall 571 of the recess 570 extends between the base plate 532 and the bottom plate 572. The bottom plate 572 of the recess includes a hole 573. The hole 573 provides an opening at a first end of a tube 574. The tube 574 extends from the bottom plate 572 of the recess 570 in a direction towards the second end 510 of the tubular member 506. Preferably the tube 574 is connected to the bottom plate 572 at a first end of the tube 574. Preferably a second end of the tube 574 is flush with, or lies in the same plane as, the second end 510 of the tubular member 506.

Referring now to Figures 20 and 21, the compression assembly 566 comprises the compensator connector 500, a displacement assembly and a leg member 575. In this embodiment the displacement assembly comprises a spring 576, a damper element 577, and a retainer 578. It will be appreciated that a spring force of the damper element 577 is larger than a spring force of the spring 576.

In this embodiment the leg member 575 comprises a stem portion 579 in the form of an elongate threaded rod 579 and a foot plate 580 connected to a first end of the threaded rod 579. In this embodiment the foot plate 580 is substantially circular. The threaded rod 579 extends from a first surface of the foot plate 580, and preferably extends centrally from the foot plate 580. The threaded rod 579 extends through the compensator connector 500 and, in particular, extends through the recess 570 and the tube 574 of the compensator connector 500. A second end of the threaded rod 579 projects from the second end 510 of the compensator connector 500 and a first retaining element 581 is attached to the second end of the rod 579. In this embodiment the first retaining element 581 is in the form of a threaded nut 581 engaged with the threaded rod 579.

The spring 576 surrounds a central portion of the threaded rod 579. A first portion of the spring 576 is disposed in the recess 570 in the compensator connector 500. The dimensions of the spring 576 and the hole 573 in the bottom plate 572 of the recess 570 are such that a first end of the spring 576 contacts the bottom plate 572 of the recess 570. A second portion of the spring 576 protrudes from the compensator connector 500.

In this embodiment the damper element 577 surrounds the second portion of the spring 576. The damper element 577 is in the form of a cylindrical tubular collar 582. The collar

582 extends between first and second ends. The first end of the collar 582 is in contact with a part of the second face 541 of the base plate 532 surrounding the aperture 568. It will be understood that a part of the spring 576 and a part of the threaded rod 579 extends through a bore of the collar 582. Preferably the diameter of the bore of the collar 582 is greater than the outer diameter of the spring 576 such that there is no direct interaction between the spring 576 and the damper element 577. Preferably a length of the spring 576 is such that, when no force is applied to the spring 576, a second end of the spring 576 protrudes from a second end of the damper element 577.

A second retaining element 578 is engaged with the threaded rod 579 at a second end of the spring 576. In this embodiment the second retaining element 578 is in the form of a threaded nut 578 engaged with the rod 579. Furthermore, in this embodiment, a press plate

583 in the form of a washer 583 is disposed between the threaded nut 578 and the second end of the spring 576. An outer diameter of the washer 583 is larger than the diameter of the bore of the collar 582 of the damper element 577. It will be appreciated that in some embodiments the second retaining element 578 and the press plate 583 may be a single, unitary element.

With this arrangement the compression assembly 566 may be set into a first configuration or a second configuration, and is moveable between the first and second configurations. In the first configuration the second retaining element 578 is disposed at a first position along the threaded rod 579 such that the press plate 583 is in contact with the second end of the spring 576 and there is a gap between the press plate 583 and the second end of the damper element 577. In this configuration, when a vertical force is applied to the first end of the threaded rod 579, in a direction parallel to the axis of the rod 579, the second retaining element 578 applies a corresponding force to the spring 576, causing compression of the spring 576. In the second configuration the second retaining element 578 is disposed at a second position along the threaded rod 579 such that the spring 576 is compressed and the press plate 583 is in contact with the second end of the damper element 577. In this configuration, when a vertical force is applied to the first end of the threaded rod 579, in a direction parallel to the axis of the rod 579, the second retaining element 578 applies a corresponding force to the damper element 577, causing compression of the damper element 577.

In use, the compression assembly 566 is secured to an end of a stud member 8, as illustrated in Figure 22. In particular, an end portion of the stud member 8 is engaged with the main body portion 502 of the compensator connector 500.

The end portion of the stud member 8 slidingly engages with the tubular member 506 such that the first, second and fourth side walls 514, 516, 520 of the tubular member 506 are disposed within the channel member 10 of the stud 8. The dimensions of the tubular member 506 are such that the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8 locates in the first slot 528 in the third side wall 518 of the tubular member 506. Because the height of the first side wall 14a of the stud member 8 is greater than the height of the second side wall 14b, the dimensions of the tubular member 506 are such that the lip 26a extending from the first side wall 14a extends over an outer surface of the third side wall 518 of the tubular member 506.

The stud member 8 engaged with the tubular member 506 of the connector 500 will form a vertical stud member 8V of a stud frame of a wall. To connect the vertical stud member 8V to a head track 38’ the foot plate 580 of the compression assembly 566 is engaged with the head track 38’, as illustrated in Figure 23. In particular, the foot plate 580 is located in the head track 38’ such that a second surface of the foot plate 580 is in contact with an inner surface of the top plate 50’ of the header channel 42’. To allow the foot plate 580 to be engaged with the head track 38’ in this way, the compression assembly 566 is in its first configuration such that the foot plate 580 can be moved in a direction towards the compensator connector 500 and the end of the stud member 8 so as to be able to clear the side plates 52’ of the header channel 42’. Once the foot plate 580 is located between the side plates 52’ of the header channel 42’, the spring 576 urges the second retaining element 578 and the foot plate 580 in a direction away from the compensator connector 500 and the end of the stud member 8.

Once the stud member 8 has been correctly position in the desired or required location in the head track 38’ the second retaining element 578 can be moved such that the compression assembly 566 is in its second configuration. In this configuration, if a vertical force is subsequently applied to the wall and the stud frame, any vertical displacement will be taken up or absorbed by the damper element 577. In other words, the compression assembly 566 will isolate any vertical movement of the head track 38’ from the vertical stud member 8V.

It will be appreciated that the first and second slots 528, 530 are provided in the main body 502 of the connector 500 to enable the connector 500 to be engaged with either of the first and second ends of the stud member 8. The third and fourth slots 542, 544 are provided in the main body 502 to enable the vertical stud member 8V (at either of its first or second ends) to be connected to the horizontal stud member or head track 38’ in a first orientation (in which the opening of the vertical stud member faces in a direction towards the first end of the horizontal stud member of head track) or in a second orientation (in which the opening of the vertical stud member faces in a direction towards the second end of the horizontal stud member of head track).

When a vertical stud member 8V is connected to a head track 38’ using the compensator connector 500 and compression assembly 566 both horizontal movement (in a direction parallel to the axis of the head track) and vertical movement (in a direction parallel to the axis of the vertical stud member) of the vertical stud member 8V with respect to the head track 38’ is restricted or prevented. In particular, by placing the compression assembly 566 in the second configuration, sufficient vertical force is applied to the head track 38’ by the vertical stud member 8V and the compression assembly 566 that horizontal movement of the vertical stud member 8V is limited by frictional forces between the foot plate 580 and the header channel 42’. Furthermore, minimal vertical movement is transferred to the vertical stud member 8V due to the accommodation or absorption of the vertical forces by the damper element 577. Accordingly, there is little or no relative movement between the compensator connector 500 and the end of the vertical stud member 8V once the vertical stud member 8V is disposed in a stud frame and the compression assembly 566 is in the second configuration.

It will be appreciated, however, that the length of the tubular member 506 is such that the connector 500 can accommodate differences in length of the stud member 8. This means that the vertical stud member 8V does not have to be cut to length as accurately as in conventional, prior art systems. The compensator connector 500 may also be able to accommodate changes in length of the stud member 8 due to, for example, thermal expansion of the vertical stud member 8V along its axis due to temperature changes, such as those experienced during a fire. These thermal expansions can be significant, with a 2.4 m length stud member expanding up to 14 mm in a longitudinal direction. The compensator connector 500 is preferably made from a suitable non-metallic material. The non-metallic material is preferably flame retardant and self extinguishing. Additionally the material will have sufficient rigidity and strength that the connector is rigid and has the necessary structural integrity. Preferably the non-metallic material comprises nylon (polyamide 6 or polyamide 66). In preferred embodiments the nylon is glass-reinforced for increased strength. The material of the connector 500 preferably not only assists in creating a smooth sliding motion both between the vertical stud member 8V and the tubular member 506 of the connector 500, but also helps to isolate any sound transference through the stud frame of the wall. This increases the acoustic performance of the wall system and reduces the possibility of sound transference that would be undesirable or unacceptable to inhabitants or users of the building.

An embodiment of a stud end cap 600 is shown in Figures 24 and 25.

The end cap 600 is designed to be inserted into a free end of a stud member 8 that is not otherwise connectable to another stud member 8, base track or head track.

The end cap 600 is preferably of unitary, one-piece construction. The end cap 600 comprises a main body portion 602 and an end plate 684.

The main body portion 602 comprises a tubular member 606. The tubular member 606 extends between first and second ends 608, 610 along a longitudinal axis 612 of the tubular member 606. The tubular member 606 may be of any suitable length (parallel to the longitudinal axis 612).

The tubular member 606 has a substantially rectangular cross-sectional shape transverse to the axis. In this embodiment the tubular member 606 comprises opposite first and second side walls 614, 616, and opposite third and fourth side walls 618, 620. The side walls 614, 616, 618, 620 surround and define a bore 622 of the tubular member 606. Preferably an outer perimeter of the tubular member 606 is substantially rectangular and an inner perimeter of the tubular member 606, or perimeter of the bore 622, is substantially rectangular.

Each of the side walls 614, 616, 618, 620 extends between the first and second ends 608, 610 in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis 612 and between first and second side edges 624, 626 in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 612.

A width of the fourth side wall 620 and a width of the third side wall 618 (between first and second side edges 624, 626) is preferably substantially equal to a distance between internal surfaces of the side walls 14 of the stud member 8.

A first slot 628 is provided in the first side edge 624 of the third side wall 618 of the tubular member 606. The first slot 628 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 618. As such, the first slot 628 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 618 in a direction towards the second side edge 626 of the third side wall 618. The distance that the slot 628 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 628. The first slot 628 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 612 of the tubular member 606. The distance that the slot 628 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 628. In this embodiment the slot 628 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 606.

In this embodiment the main body 602 further comprises a second slot 630 provided in the second side edge 626 of the third side wall 618 of the tubular member 606. The second slot 630 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 618. As such, the second slot 630 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 618 in a direction towards the first side edge 624 of the third side wall 618. The distance that the slot 630 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 630. The second slot 630 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 612 of the tubular member 606. The distance that the slot 630 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 630. In this embodiment the slot 630 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 606.

In preferred embodiments the main body 602 further comprises third and fourth slots 642, 644. In these embodiments the third slot 642 is provided in the first side edge 624 of the fourth side wall 620 of the tubular member 606. The third slot 642 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the fourth side wall 620. As such, the third slot 642 extends in a first direction into the fourth side wall 620 in a direction towards the second side edge 626 of the fourth side wall 620. The distance that the slot 642 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 642. The third slot 642 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 612 of the tubular member 606. The distance that the slot 642 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 642. The third slot 642 preferably extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 606. The fourth slot 644 is provided in the second side edge 626 of the fourth side wall 620 of the tubular member 606. The fourth slot 644 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the fourth side wall 620. As such, the fourth slot 644 extends in a first direction into the fourth side wall 620 in a direction towards the first side edge 624 of the fourth side wall 620. The distance that the slot 644 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 644. The fourth slot 644 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 612 of the tubular member 606. The distance that the slot 644 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 644. The fourth slot 644 preferably extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 606.

A width of each of the slots 628, 630, 642, 644 is defined as the distance in a third direction perpendicular to both the first direction and the second direction. The dimensions of each of the first, second, third and fourth slots 628, 630, 642, 644 are such that a lip 26 of a stud member 8 is receivable and engageable in the slot 628, 630, 642, 644, as described further below.

A distance between the outer surface of the fourth side wall 620 and the first and/or second slots 628, 630 is preferably substantially equal to a distance between an internal surface of the base plate 12 of the stud member 8 and the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8. Similarly, a distance between the outer surface of the third side wall 618 and the third and/or fourth slots 642, 644 is preferably substantially equal to a distance between an internal surface of the base plate 12 of the stud member 8 and the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8.

The end plate 684 forms a cap at the first end 608 of the tubular member 606. In particular, the end plate 684 has a perimeter having the same shape and dimensions as the external shape and dimensions of the tubular member 606. The tubular member 606 extends from a first face 685 of the end plate 684, such that the longitudinal axis 612 of the tubular member 606 is perpendicular to a plane of the end plate 684.

In use, the end cap 600 is secured to an end of a stud member 8, as illustrated in Figure 25. In particular, an end portion of the stud member 8 is engaged with the main body portion 602 of the end cap 600.

The end portion of the stud member 8 slidingly engages with the tubular member 606 such that the first, second and fourth side walls 614, 616, 620 of the tubular member 606 are disposed within the channel member 10 of the stud member 8. The dimensions of the tubular member 606 are such that the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8 locates in the first slot 628 in the third side wall 618 of the tubular member 606. Because the height of the first side wall 14a of the stud member 8 is greater than the height of the second side wall 14b, the dimensions of the tubular member 606 are such that the lip 26a extending from the first side wall 14a extends over an outer surface of the third side wall 618 of the tubular member 606.

With the end cap 600 fully engaged with the end of the stud member 8 the end plate 684 is disposed beyond the end of the stud member 8. In this way, the end cap 600 limits direct contact with the end of the stud member 8, which may be advantageous for safety reasons.

The end cap 600 is preferably made from a suitable non-metallic material. The non-metallic material is preferably flame retardant and self extinguishing. Additionally the material will have sufficient rigidity and strength that the connector is rigid and has the necessary structural integrity. Preferably the non-metallic material comprises nylon (polyamide 6 or polyamide 66). In preferred embodiments the nylon is glass-reinforced for increased strength.

A further embodiment of a stud connector 700, in the form of a modified or truncated sliding stud connector 700 is shown in Figures 26 and 27. The modified sliding stud connector 700 is designed to connect an end of a vertical stud member 8 to a base track. In particular, the modified sliding stud connector 700 connects the stud member 8 to the base track such that the longitudinal axis of the stud member 8 is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the base track. The modified sliding stud connector 700 permits movement of the stud member 8 relative to the base track in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8, as well as movement of the stud member 8 relative to the base track in a direction parallel to the axis of the base track.

The modified sliding stud connector 700 is preferably of unitary, one-piece construction. The modified sliding stud connector 700 comprises a main body portion 702 and an attachment portion 704.

The main body portion 702 comprises a tubular member 706. The tubular member 706 extends between first and second ends 708, 710 along a longitudinal axis 712 of the tubular member 706. The tubular member 706 may be of any suitable length (parallel to the longitudinal axis 712) dependent on the desired or predicted range of movement between a stud member 8 and the connector 700.

The tubular member 706 has a substantially rectangular cross-sectional shape transverse to the axis 712. In this embodiment the tubular member 706 comprises opposite first and second side walls 714, 716, and opposite third and fourth side walls 718, 720. The side walls 714, 716, 718, 720 surround and define a bore 722 of the tubular member 706. Preferably an outer perimeter of the tubular member 706 is substantially rectangular and an inner perimeter of the tubular member 706, or perimeter of the bore 722, is substantially rectangular.

Each of the side walls 714, 716, 718, 720 extends between the first and second ends 708, 710 in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis 712 and between first and second side edges 724, 726 in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 712.

A width of the fourth side wall 720 (between first and second side edges 724, 726) is preferably substantially equal to a distance between internal surfaces of the side walls 14 of the stud member 8.

A first slot 728 is provided in the first side edge 724 of the third side wall 718 of the tubular member 706. The first slot 728 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 718. As such, the first slot 728 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 718 in a direction towards the second side edge 726 of the third side wall 718. The distance that the slot 728 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 728. The first slot 728 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 712 of the tubular member 706. The distance that the slot 728 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 728. In this embodiment the slot 728 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 706.

In this embodiment the main body 702 further comprises a second slot 730 provided in the second side edge 726 of the third side wall 718 of the tubular member 706. The second slot 730 extends in a plane parallel to a plane of the third side wall 718. As such, the second slot 730 extends in a first direction into the third side wall 718 in a direction towards the first side edge 724 of the third side wall 718. The distance that the slot 730 extends in this first direction defines a depth of the slot 730. The second slot 730 extends in a second direction parallel to the axis 712 of the tubular member 706. The distance that the slot 730 extends in this second direction defines a length of the slot 730. In this embodiment the slot 730 extends in the second direction along the full length of the tubular member 706.

The first and second slots 728, 730 are aligned with each other, such that the first and second slots 728, 730 lie in the same plane.

A width of each of the slots 728, 730 is defined as the distance in a third direction perpendicular to both the first direction and the second direction. The dimensions of each of the first and second slots 728, 730 are such that a lip 26 of a stud member 8 is receivable and engageable in the slot 728, 730, as described further below.

A distance between the outer surface of the fourth side wall 720 and each of the slots 728, 730 is preferably substantially equal to a distance between an internal surface of the base plate 12 of the stud member 8 and the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 720 of the stud member 8.

The attachment portion 704 of the modified sliding stud connector 700 comprises a base plate 732. In this embodiment the base plate 732 has the shape of a circular disc with a circular segment removed. The base plate 732 has a curved edge 786 that subtends an angle of greater than 180° and a straight edge 787 that extends between ends of the curved edge 786. The base plate 732 has opposite first and second faces 740. A diameter of the base plate 732 and a length of the straight edge 787 is greater than a width (a distance between first and second side edges 724, 726) of the third and fourth side walls 718, 720 of the tubular member 706.

The tubular member 706 extends from the first face 740 of the base plate 732, such that the longitudinal axis 712 of the tubular member 706 is perpendicular to a plane of the base plate 732. The tubular member 706 is preferably positioned on the base plate 732 such that the fourth side wall 720 of the tubular member 706 is aligned with the straight edge 787 of the base plate 732. In particular, an outer surface of the fourth side wall 720 of the tubular member 706 is preferably co-planar and continuous with the straight edge 787 of the base plate 732. A perimeter region of the base plate 732 extends around and projects from the first, second and third side walls 714, 716, 718 of the tubular member 706.

In use, the modified or truncated sliding stud connector 700 is secured to an end of a stud member 8, as illustrated in Figure 27. In particular, an end portion of the stud member 8 is engaged with the main body portion 702 of the modified or truncated sliding stud connector 700.

The end portion of the stud member 8 slidingly engages with the tubular member 706 such that the first, second and fourth side walls 714, 716, 720 of the tubular member 706 are disposed within the channel member 10 of the stud member 8. The dimensions of the tubular member 706 are such that the lip 26 extending from the second side wall 14b of the stud member 8 locates in the first slot 728 in the third side wall 718 of the tubular member 706. Because the height of the first side wall 14a of the stud member 8 is greater than the height of the second side wall 14b, the dimensions of the tubular member 706 are such that the lip 26a extending from the first side wall 14a extends over an outer surface of the third side wall 718 of the tubular member 706.

Engagement of the tubular member 706 with the stud member 8 in this way means that the stud member 8 is able to slide with respect to the tubular member 706 in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8 (and parallel to the axis 712 of the tubular member 706).

It will be appreciated that first and second slots 728, 730 are provided in the main body 702 of the connector 700 to enable the connector 700 to be engaged with either of the first and second ends of the stud member 8.

The stud member 8 engaged with the tubular member 706 of the connector 700 will form a vertical stud member 8 of a stud frame of a wall. To connect the modified sliding stud connector 700 to a base track, the base plate 732 of the connector 700 is located and received between side walls of the base channel of the base track.

When a stud member 8 is connected to a base track using the modified sliding stud connector 700 both horizontal movement (in a direction parallel to the axis of the base track) and vertical movement (in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8) of the stud member 8 with respect to the base track is permitted. In particular, the attachment portion 704 of the connector 700 is able to slide freely along the base track in a direction parallel to the axis of the base track, such that horizontal movement of the stud member 8 in this direction can be accommodated. Vertical movement of the stud member 8 with respect to the base track is accommodated by the sliding engagement of the stud member 8 with the main body 702 of the connector 700.

The truncated shape of the base plate 732 of the modified sliding stud connector 700 allows a vertical stud member 8 to be positioned adjacent to another vertical stud member or other vertical structure, such that there is minimal gap between the two vertical stud members or the vertical stud member and the vertical structure. This connector 700 may, therefore, be used where two walls intersect, and it is required to position a vertical stud member of a first wall close to a vertical structure of a second wall.

The length of the tubular member 706 may be such that the connector 700 can accommodate a greater vertical displacement of the stud member 8 than that expected due to external loadings. This means that the stud member 8 does not have to be cut to length as accurately as in conventional, prior art systems. The modified sliding stud connector 700 can therefore accommodate vertical movement of the stud member 8 due to vertical external loads applied to the wall, as well as expansion of the stud member 8 along its axis due to temperature changes, such as those experienced during a fire, for example. These thermal expansions can be significant, with a 2.4 m length stud member expanding up to 14 mm in a longitudinal direction.

The modified sliding stud connector 700 is preferably made from a suitable non-metallic material. The non-metallic material is preferably flame retardant and self extinguishing. Additionally the material will have sufficient rigidity and strength that the connector is rigid and has the necessary structural integrity. Preferably the non-metallic material comprises nylon (polyamide 6 or polyamide 66). In preferred embodiments the nylon is glass- reinforced for increased strength. The material of the connector 700 preferably not only assists in creating a smooth sliding motion both between the stud member 8 and the tubular member 706 of the connector 700 and between the connector 700 and the base track, but also helps to isolate any sound transference through the stud frame of the wall. This increases the acoustic performance of the wall system and reduces the possibility of sound transference that would be undesirable or unacceptable to inhabitants or users of the building.

A stud frame 4’ of an internal wall 2’ constructed from stud members 8 and stud connectors 200, 300, 700 is shown in Figures 28 and 29. Figures 30 to 32 illustrate an internal wall 2’ including a stud frame 4’ and sheathing 6.

In this embodiment the stud frame 4’ comprises a head track 38’, a base track 40 and four vertical stud members 8V extending between the base track 40 and the head track 38’. Each of the vertical stud members 8V is connected at a respective first end of the stud member 8V to the head track 38’ by a vertical stud-to-stud connector 300. Three of the vertical stud members 8Va, 8Vb, 8Vc are connected at respective second ends of the stud members 8V to the base track 40 by a sliding stud connector 200. A fourth one of the vertical stud members 8Vd is disposed at and between a first end 60 of the base track 40 and a first end 44’ of the head track 38’. The first ends 60, 44’ of the base track 40 and the head track 38’ and the fourth vertical stud member 8Vd form a first end 5 of the stud frame 4’. The fourth vertical stud member 8Vd is connected at its second end to the base track 40 by a modified sliding stud connector 700. In this way, the first end 5 of the stud frame 4’ may be positioned against or in close proximity to another vertical structure. In particular, the fourth stud member 8Vd may be connected or fixed in a suitable manner to another structure.

It will be appreciated that by using vertical stud-to-stud connectors 300, sliding stud connectors 200 and modified sliding stud connectors 700 in the construction of the stud frame 4’, the vertical stud members 8V are able to move in both a horizontal direction (parallel to axes of the head track 38’ and the base track 40) and a vertical direction (parallel to axes of the vertical stud members 8V) with respect to the head track 38’ and the base track 40. It will be further understood that, in embodiments in which the fourth stud member 8Vd is secured to another structure, the fourth vertical stud member 8Vd may be secured in such a way that relative movement between the fourth vertical stud member 8Vd and the base track 40 and the head track 38’ in a horizontal direction is restricted or prevented. In this embodiment, however, relative movement between the other three vertical stud members 8Va, 8Vb, 8Vc and the base track 40 and the head track 38’ in a horizontal direction is preferably still possible.

Referring now to Figures 30 to 32, the internal wall 2’ is constructed by attaching sheathing 6 to the stud frame 4’. In particular, sheets of sheathing material 6, such as plasterboard, are attached to the stud frame 4’ so as to substantially cover both sides of the stud frame 4’.

The sheathing 6 is attached or fixed to the vertical stud members 8V, and not to the head track 38’ or the base track 40. Accordingly, if and when external forces are applied to the wall causing the vertical stud members 8V to move with respect to the base track 40 and the head track 38’, the sheathing 6 will also be able to move with the vertical stud members 8V.

In the illustrated embodiment of the wall, the fourth vertical stud member 8Vd at the first end 5 of the stud frame 4’ is a static stud member due to its attachment to another fixed structure, e.g. an existing wall. In this embodiment, therefore, the sheathing 6 is only attached to the other three vertical stud members 8Va, 8Vb, 8Vc that are moveable with respect to the head track 38’ and the base track 40.

Each sheathing layer 6, on each side of the stud frame 4’, has opposite first and second side edges 7, 9, a top edge 11 and a bottom edge 13. Each sheathing layer 6 also includes opposite first and second faces 15, 17. A first face 15 of each sheathing layer 6 is in contact with the vertical stud members 8V, and therefore may be considered to be an internal face of the sheathing layer 6. The opposite second face 17 may be considered to be an external face of the sheathing layer 6.

It is envisaged that the head track 38’ of the stud frame 4’ accordingly to the present invention will be fixed to a ceiling soffit or underside of a ceiling in the same way as a head track 38 in a traditional stud wall 4. In particular the head track 38’ will be fixed through a deflection head 74 into the inherited structure, i.e. the ceiling, to provide a strong fixing. The deflection head 74 will be substantially as described above in relation to prior art systems. Additionally, it is envisaged that the base track 40 of the stud frame 4’ is fixed to the floor aligned vertically with and parallel to the head track 38’.

In preferred embodiments the top edge 11 of the sheathing layer 6 is aligned with the top plate 50’ of the head track 38’. The bottom edge 13 of the sheathing layer 6 is preferably aligned with the bottom plate 66 of the base track 40. In the embodiment of Figures 30 to 32, the first side edge 7 of the layer of sheathing 6 is aligned with a side edge of the vertical stud member 8Va furthest from the first end 5 of the stud frame 4’. The second side edge 9 of the layer of sheathing 6 overlies the fourth vertical stud member 8Vd at the first end 5 of the stud frame 4’. There is, however, a distance or a gap 19 between the second side edge 9 of the layer of sheathing 6 and the first end 5 of the stud frame 4’. A width of the sheathing 6, between first and second side edges 7, 9, is therefore such that the layer of sheathing 6 fully covers the three moveable vertical stud members 8Va, 8Vb, 8Vc and partially covers the fourth static stud member 8Vd when the vertical stud members 8V are in an initial position prior to any external loads being applied to the wall 2’.

The gap 19 between the second side edge 9 of the layer of sheathing 6 and the first end 5 of the stud frame 4’ is predetermined based on the anticipated or predicted movement of the wall 2’ due to external loads that may be applied to the wall 2’. This anticipated or predicted movement of the wall 2’ would be calculated prior to the design and installation of the wall 2’ by detailed modelling of the structure of the building in which the wall 2’ is to be constructed.

In the embodiment illustrated in Figures 30 to 32 the predicted movement of the wall 2’ is due to both vertical forces acting in a downwards direction from the head track 38’ towards the base track 40 and horizontal forces acting in a direction from a second end 25 of the stud frame 4’ towards the first end 5 of the stud frame 4’ (i.e. from right to left in Figure 30). The three moveable vertical stud members 8Va, 8Vb, 8Vc and the sheathing 6 are therefore designed to be able to move in these predicted directions. In particular, a sub-assembly comprising the three moveable vertical stud members 8Va, 8Vb, 8Vc and the layers of sheathing 6 can move freely in a horizontal direction towards the first end 5 of the stud frame 4’. During this movement the second side edge 9 of the layers of sheathing 6 will slide over the fourth, static vertical stud member 8Vd at the first end 5 of the stud frame 4’. This static stud member 8Vd therefore provides a guide for the layers of sheathing 6 at the first end 5 of the stud frame 4’.

Figure 33 illustrates a plurality of intersecting and adjoining walls 2’, each wall 2’ being constructed in the same way as the wall 2’ illustrated in Figures 30 to 32.

In the illustrated embodiment a first wall 2A’ intersects a second wall 2B’ such that a plane of the first wall 2A’ is substantially perpendicular to the second wall 2B’. This wall intersection is designed to accommodate forces being applied to the structure in an X- direction (a horizontal direction parallel to the head track 38’ and base track of the first wall 2k’), a Y-direction (a horizontal direction parallel to head and base tracks 38’ of the second wall 2B’), and a Z-direction (a vertical direction parallel to axes of the vertical stud members 8 V).

To accommodate movement due to these forces, the second wall 2B’ is constructed from two separate stud frames. In this embodiment, the stud frame (first stud frame 4A’) of the first wall 2k’ and each of the two stud frames (second and third stud frames 4B’, 4C’) of the second wall 2B’ is the same as the stud frame 4’ described above and shown in Figures 28 and 29.

The second and third stud frames 4B’, 4C’ of the second wall 2B’ are aligned such that they lie in the same plane. Furthermore the second and third stud frames 4B’, 4C’ are arranged such that the first end 5B of the second stud frame 4B’ is adjacent to but spaced from the first end 5C of the third stud frame 4C’. The first end 5A of the first stud frame 4A’ (of the first wall 2A’) is disposed between the first ends 5B, 5C of the second and third stud frames 4B’, 4C’ of the second wall 2B’. In other words, a first end region of the first wall 2A’ extends between the two stud frames 4B’, 4C’ of the second wall 2B’. The stud frame 4A’ of the first wall 2A’ extends from a first side of the second wall 2B’. The first end 5A of the first stud frame 4A’ does not protrude beyond a second side of the two stud frames 4B’, 4C’ of the second wall 2B’.

A continuous layer of sheathing 6D may be applied to the second side of the second and third stud frames 4B’, 4C’ of the second wall 2B’. It will be appreciated that this layer of sheathing 6D may be formed from a plurality of abutting sheets of sheathing material. Preferably the layer of sheathing 6D applied to the second side of the second wall 2B’ spans the gap between the first ends 5B, 5C of the second and third stud frames 4B’, 4C’ such that the sheathing 6D ties the two stud frames 4B’, 4C’ together. The sheathing 6D applied to the second side of the second wall 2B’ is attached to the moveable vertical stud members 8V of each of the second and third stud frames 4B’, 4C’, as described above. By applying continuous sheathing 6D to the second side of the second wall 2B’ in this way, movement of the vertical stud members 8V of the second and third stud frames 4B’, 4C’ is locked together, such that they move in tandem.

A layer of sheathing 6A is applied to each of the first and second sides of the first stud frame 4A’ of the first wall 2A’. Again, as described above, the layers of sheathing 6A are only fixed to the moveable vertical stud members 8V of the first stud frame 4A’. A second end of each of the layers of sheathing 6A is disposed between the first ends 5B, 5C of the second and third stud frames 4B’, 4C’ of the second wall 2B’. In particular, a second end of a first layer of sheathing 6A is disposed between the static vertical stud member 8V at the first end 5A of the first stud frame 4A’ and the static vertical stud member 8V at the first end 5B of the second stud frame 4B’, and a second end of a second layer of sheathing 6A is disposed between the static vertical stud member 8V at the first end 5A of the first stud frame 4A’ and the static vertical stud member 8V at the first end 5C of the third stud frame 4C’.

It will, therefore, be appreciated that any movement of the second side edges of the layers of sheathing 6A of the first wall 2A’, due to movement in the X-direction, will be hidden within the structure of the second wall 2B’. Separate layers of sheathing 6B, 6C are applied to each of the first side of the second stud frame 4B’ and the first side of the third stud frame 4C’. A second side edge 9 of each of these layers of sheathing 6B, 6C abuts or lies adjacent to a second face 17 of a respective layer of sheathing 6A of the first wall 2A’. In particular, a second side edge of a third layer of sheathing 6B applied to the first side of the second stud frame 4B’ abuts or lies adjacent to the second face of the first layer of sheathing 6A of the first wall 2A’, and a second side edge 9 of a fourth layer of sheathing 6C applied to the first side of the third stud frame 4C’ abuts or lies adjacent to the second face 17 of the second layer of sheathing 6A of the first wall 2A\

To accommodate relative movement of the first and second walls 2A’, 2B’, flexible joints are preferably formed between the layers of sheathing 6B, 6C applied to the first sides of the stud frames 4B’, 4C’ of the second wall 2B’ and the respective layers of sheathing 6A of the first wall 2A’. In particular, a first flexible joint is preferably formed between the second side edge of the third layer of sheathing 6B and the second face of the first layer of sheathing 6A of the first wall 2A’, and a second flexible joint is preferably formed between the second side edge 9 of the fourth layer of sheathing 6C and the second face 17 of the second layer of sheathing 6A of the first wall 2A’. The flexible joints may comprise a malleable aesthetic sealant that will deform during a movement cycle, i.e. during relative movement of the first and second walls 2A’, 2B’.

In some situations it is necessary or desirable to include a horizontal stud member extending between two neighbouring vertical stud members. This may be required to stiffen or strengthen that area of the stud frame. This may be required around an opening in the wall, such as around a door frame or a window frame.

In situations in which a predicted imposed loading on the stud frame is such that deformation of a horizontal stud member could occur, or deformation of a joint between a horizontal stud member and a vertical stud member could occur, or where a brace between vertical stud members is required to accommodate an opening, a transverse stud assembly is preferably disposed and connected between two upright stud members in the required location.

An embodiment of a transverse stud assembly 801 is illustrated in Figure 34, and comprises a stud member 8 with a horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 engaged with each end of the stud member 8. Each horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400 is as described above. Figures 35 and 36 show an embodiment of a stud frame 4’ including the transverse stud assembly 801. In this embodiment the remainder of the stud frame 4’ is the same as described above in relation to the stud frame 4’ illustrated in Figures 28 and 29.

The transverse stud assembly 801 extends between a first moveable vertical stud member 8Vc located next to a static vertical stud member 8Vd and a second, neighbouring moveable vertical stud member 8Vb. A first end of the transverse stud assembly 801 is connected to the first moveable vertical stud member 8Vc and a second end of the transverse stud assembly 801 is connected to the second moveable vertical stud member 8Vb. The transverse stud assembly 801 is connected to the vertical stud members 8V such that an axis of the stud member 8H of the transverse stud assembly 801 extends perpendicular to the axes of the vertical stud members 8V when there is no external force applied to the stud frame 4’. The stud member 8H of the transverse stud assembly 801 therefore forms a horizontal stud member 8H of the stud frame 4’.

The horizontal stud member 8H will be cut to a length such that there is an allowance for movement of the horizontal stud member 8H in a direction parallel to its axis. As described above, each end of the horizontal stud member 8H is slidably engaged with the main body 402 of the respective horizontal stud-to-stud connector 400, such that the stud member 8H is able to slide with respect to the tubular member 406 of the connector 400 in a direction parallel to the axis of the stud member 8H (and parallel to the axis of the tubular member 406).

The transverse stud assembly 801 will not impede vertical or horizontal movement of the vertical stud members 8V to which it is connected. If there is a loading on the stud frame 4’ such that there is a different vertical movement or displacement of each of the vertical stud members 8V to which the transverse stud assembly 801 is connected, the transverse stud assembly 801 is designed to accommodate this differential movement. Each of the brace plates 462 of the horizontal stud-to-stud connectors 400 includes a single fixing hole 442. As such, when the attachment portion 404 of each of the connectors 400 is secured to the respective vertical stud member 8V using suitable mechanical fasteners, as described above, an axis 888 extending through the aligned fixing holes 442 of each connector 400 acts as a pivot axis. This allows the transverse stud assembly 801 to pivot or rotate about each of these axes 888, such that the horizontal stud member 8H can pivot or rotate with respect to each of the vertical stud members 8V. An embodiment of a stud frame 4’ including an opening 33 for a doorway is illustrated in Figures 37 and 38.

In walls in which is it required to insert a doorway it will be appreciated that a door frame within the doorway must remain static when any loads are applied to the structure of the wall. In particular, upright side members of the door frame (door jambs) must remain perpendicular to an upper, horizontal member (header) of the door frame, a distance between the header and the floor must not vary and a distance between the two door jambs of the door frame must not vary. This allows a door, disposed within the door frame and connected to the door frame, to be operational, i.e. to open and close as intended.

The stud members in the stud frame that define the doorway must, therefore, be considered as fixed points and must remain static during any imposed loading on the stud frame. Additionally, the opening of the doorway has to remain dimensionally constant. The stud members defining the doorway must, therefore, be connected and supported so that both the sheathing secured to the stud frame around the doorway and the door frame timber lining (header and jambs) can be fixed.

The stud frame 4’ preferably includes a pair of vertical jamb stud members 8VJ and a horizontal header stud member 8H. Each of the vertical jamb stud members 8VJ is connected at a first, lower end to the base track 40 by a fixed stud connector 100 and at a second, upper end to the head track 38’ by a compression assembly 566. Each of the fixed stud connector 100 and the compression assembly 566 is as described above. The header stud member 8H forms part of a transverse stud assembly 801 that extends between the two vertical jamb stud members 8VJ.

In some embodiments a further transverse stud assembly 801 extends between the header stud member 8H and the head track 38’. In these embodiments the stud member 8V of the transverse stud assembly 801 forms a vertical stud member 8V of the stud frame 4’. This additional transverse stud assembly 801 may be included, in particular, in embodiments in which the doorway is of sufficient width (between the vertical jamb stud members 8VJ) to require additional strengthening or stiffening of the stud frame 4’ above the header stud member 8H. In other words, the additional transverse stud assembly 801 supports the span of the header stud member 8H to minimise or prevent deflection of the header stud member 8H. When an external force is applied to the stud frame 4’ including a doorway, the connectors 100, 500 engaged with the vertical jamb stud members 8VJ ensure that there is no distortion or movement of the doorway. In particular, vertical movement is accommodated by the compression assemblies 566, as described above, such that there is no vertical movement of the vertical jamb stud members 8VJ relative to the head track 38’ and base track 40. The fixed stud connector 100 and the compression assembly 566 also prevents horizontal movement of each of the vertical jamb stud members 8VJ relative to the head track 38’ and base track 40.

An embodiment of a stud frame 4’ including an opening 33 for a window is illustrated in Figures 39 and 40.

In walls in which is it required to insert an opening for a window it will be appreciated that a window frame within the opening must remain static when any loads are applied to the structure of the wall. In particular, upright side members of the window frame (jambs) must remain perpendicular to both an upper, horizontal member (head) of the window frame and a lower, horizontal member (sill) of the window frame. Furthermore, a distance between the head and the sill must not vary and a distance between the two jambs of the window frame must not vary. In embodiments in which the window is openable, for example a casement window or a sash window, it is important that the window frame does not distort so that the window remains operational, i.e. can open and close as intended. In embodiments in which the window comprises a fixed pane of glass it is important that the window frame does not distort so that unwanted forces are not transferred to the pane of glass, which may cause the pane of glass to break.

The stud members in the stud frame that define the window opening must, therefore, be considered as fixed points and must remain static during any imposed loading on the stud frame. Additionally, the window opening has to remain dimensionally constant. The stud members defining the window opening must, therefore, be connected and supported so that both the sheathing secured to the stud frame around the window opening and the window frame timber lining (header, jambs and sill) can be fixed.

The stud frame 4’ preferably includes a pair of vertical jamb stud members 8VJ, a horizontal header stud member 8H and a horizontal sill stud member 8HS. Each of the vertical jamb stud members 8VJ is connected at a first, lower end to the base track 40 by a fixed stud connector 100 and at a second, upper end to the head track 38’ by a compression assembly 566. Each of the fixed stud connector 100 and the compression assembly 566 is as described above. The header stud member 8H forms part of a transverse stud assembly 801 that extends between the two vertical jamb stud members 8VJ and defines a top edge of the window opening 33. Similarly, the sill stud member 8HS forms part of a transverse stud assembly 801 that extends between the two vertical jamb stud members 8VJ and defines a bottom edge of the window opening 33.

In some embodiments a further transverse stud assembly 801 extends between the header stud member 8H and the head track 38’. In these embodiments the stud member 8 of the transverse stud assembly 801 forms a vertical stud member 8V of the stud frame 4’. This additional transverse stud assembly 801 may be included, in particular, in embodiments in which the window opening 33 is of sufficient width (between the vertical jamb stud members 8VJ) to require additional strengthening or stiffening of the stud frame 4’ above the header stud member 8H. In other words, the additional transverse stud assembly 801 supports the span of the header stud member 8H to minimise or prevent deflection of the header stud member 8H.

When an external force is applied to the stud frame 4’ including a window opening 33, the connectors 100, 500 engaged with the vertical jamb stud members 8VJ ensure that there is no distortion or movement of the window opening 33. In particular, vertical movement is accommodated by the compression assemblies 566, as described above, such that there is no vertical movement of the vertical jamb stud members 8VJ relative to the head track 38’ and base track 40. The fixed stud connector 100 and the compression assembly 566 also prevents horizontal movement of each of the vertical jamb stud members 8VJ relative to the head track 38’ and base track 40.