Anyone who intends on driving a nail or a screw into their wall needs to buy a stud finder. That’s because mounting things to the wall without ensuring that the screw or nail is firmly in a wall stud is just a recipe for disaster. And because there are pipes and electrical wires somewhere behind the wall, you don’t want to start driving nails without a firm understanding of where the wall’s studs can be found.
While some people may resort to old-fashioned methods of finding wall studs, such as tapping on the wall, the truth of the matter is a stud locating tool is the fastest and most accurate method of detecting wall studs. And if the homeowner or DIY enthusiast takes the time to find the best one possible, it’s also a pretty easy tool to use. If you’re wondering which models are the best, then just check the list below.
10. Welquic Electric Center-Finder
Designed to be suitable for DIY projects, this electronic center-finder has many of the features that homeowners look for in an electronic stud locator. It has three distinct detection modes which allow it to not only find studs but also find metal or AC wires as well. It’s accurate up to a depth of three-inches for detecting metal, 3-inches for AC detection and up to 1.5-inches for finding wood studs. It’s powered by a single 9-volt battery and has an easy-to-read backlit LCD screen. And since it’s built with soft-grips, this product is easy to hold in the hand, even for long periods of time.
9. Diamond Resource 10129-ST Magnetic Stud Detector
This product is inexpensive, small and easy-to-use. It uses extremely strong dual magnets to detect studs underneath not only sheetrock or plaster but under a variety of different materials. It’s a double action detector that gives a loud and distinctive thud when its magnetic pull detects precisely where a stud is located. And since it’s magnetic and not electronic, this device doesn’t need an AC supply or batteries to operate. This product takes all of the guesswork out of detecting studs and gets rid of many of the false readings that are common with comparable detectors, so the user can get their work completed on time.
8. Zircon MultiScanner i520-FFP Center-Finder
This electronic detector only uses a 9-volt battery to operate, but it is capable of delivering the user one of four different operating modes. It can not only detect studs but can detect live AC wirings and metal as well. It’s Deep Scan and Stud Scan modes can not only detect the edges of studs but can also detect the center or the direction of the studs, too. This unit’s metal scan can detect both rebar and copper pipe, and its AC scan can not only find but also trace live AC wires. Another great feature found in this scanner is Auto Correcting Technology which corrects common operator errors for increased accuracy.
7. Dr. Meter Fi-1 Stud Sensor
This stud sensor has a nice anti-slip design, is easy-to-hold and has an illuminated LCD screen. This compact device can deliver both audible and graphical warnings when it has detected a stud. This product will detect metal studs up to 3/2-inch and will detect pipes or rebar up to 3-inches deep. This sensor makes it easy to not only determine where AC wires are located, but can also be used to find a variety of metal studs, rebar, pipes, wall joists, and floor joists. It will also find AC wires in a wall that are located up to 3-inches deep in the wall.
6. Classware Stud Locator
This device is designed to make it easy for even amateurs to detect wall studs. It’s a multi-purpose wall scanner that can be used to detect not only studs but also ceiling joists, AC wires, and rebar, too. It’s extremely accurate, has an easy-to-read LCD screen and is powered by a 9-Volt battery. And once it detects metal, AC wires or studs, it will alert the user with an audible sound. All the user has to do is spend a few moments calibrating this sensor, and it will be ready for work in no time flat. While it may not have the bells and whistles of other sensors, it’s accurate and gets the job done right.
5. Precision Sensors Stud Finder 5000
Why spend your time going over and over the same spots on the wall when one device will detect your wall studs quicker and easier? This model uses one-touch operation to turn a tedious process into something that’s a lot more fun. All the user has to do it to place this sensor on the wall and turn it on. The lights on this device will then show you where the studs are located. This product is quicker and less error prone than some of the other models on the market and can detect studs up to 1.5-inches deep. It can also detect metal object hidden in the wall and is battery-operated for convenience.
4. Studpop Magnetic Stud Detector
This product is simple to use, easy to carry and doesn’t require batteries. And since it’s magnetic instead of electronic, it also doesn’t need to be calibrated. The physics upon which this device is built are really quite simple. The device contains a magnet that alerts the user to a wall stud by popping an indicator out when it encounters a fastener used to hold the sheetrock to the wall stud. And since this product doesn’t have electronics and has the simplest of designs, it will provide years of service and will never fail. All of which makes this American made tool useful to any DIY enthusiasts or homeowner.
3. Franklin Sensors ProSensor 710
With deep-scanning capabilities built-into it that allows it to detect studs up to 1.5-inches deep, the ProSensor 710 is a must-have for any professional contractor or amateur do-it-yourselfer. Unlike other stud finders, this unit doesn’t have to be slid around the wall to detect studs. It can do so simply by being placed on the wall and the user observing its bright LED lights. This product can detect up to thirteen different locations at the same time and is less error-prone than some of the models which compete with it. It’s truly one of the fastest and most error-free methods of detecting wall studs.
2. CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Locator
This compact stud detector uses powerful magnets to detect the nails holding the wall to the wall stud, so it doesn’t require batteries or need to be calibrated. It easily fits into a person’s pocket or toolbox, so it can be taken just about anywhere, and it has a soft grip that makes it easy to hold. This product also has a level built in which helps the user mark the location of wall studs. It’s a high-quality product that’s been used by professionals for years and is designed to hold up to even rough use. Which makes it a tool that is beneficial to just about anyone who needs to accurately and quickly detect wall studs.
1. Multi-Scanning Electric Stud Finder
This 3-in-1 wall stud sensor can be used to expertly and easily detect wall studs in a variety of different materials. It calibrates automatically and has three different detection modes. It can detect wood studs, live AC wiring and even metal objects. It’s extremely accurate and can detect wood studs in walls up to 3/4-inch thick, metal studs in walls up to 11/5-inch deep and live AC wire in walls up to 2-inches thick. This high-quality product has an easy-to-read LCD screen that not only displays the type of stud being searched for but also the status of its 9-volt battery.
Stud Finder Features
It doesn’t matter if you want a stud finder so you can hang pictures around your home or need one to mount that hunting trophy or shelf you’ve been think of mounting, you’ll want to find the best model possible. And in order to find the best model possible, you are going to have to know some of the features which go into most stud detectors.
Below, we break down some of the features you’ll find on the most popular stud locators today. We are going to discuss the two types of stud finders, magnetic and electronic, and also discuss the difference between edge finders and center stud finders. So let’s not mess around and get right down to brass tacks.
Edge Finders Versus Center Stud Finders
All that edge finders do is to signal to the user when they have found the edge of a stud. How do they do that? When the user calibrates the device on a piece of the wall they know doesn’t contain a stud, then it has the information it needs to find the edge. It does this by paying attention to the wall, and noticing when the wall density changes. This device is useful, but it does require several passes to find both edges of the stud, and then the user has to calculate for themselves where the center of the stud is likely to be.
Center edge finders are a little more complicated and require a little more calibration. However, this lengthy initial calibration rewards the user by being able to accurately find the center point of the stud. They accomplish this by taking note of both edges of a stud and then calculating where the center of an average stud is likely to be found.
Magnetic Versus Electronic
Stud finders can be broken down into two distinct categories: magnetic and battery-powered. Magnetic ones are operated, of course, by magnets and they work on a simple principle. When they run across the metal fasteners or nails that attach a section to the wall to the stud, it causes a piston to become attracted to it. Then the user can simply mark the location of the wall stud, and after a few passes, locate the center of the stud. Since it uses magnets, it never needs batteries and doesn’t require an extensive calibration process. However, because these tend to focus in on metal, they can give false positives.
Electronic models scan for wall density changes and either locate the edge of the stud or locate both stud edges so that it can determine the center of the stud. This makes it more accurate than magnetic models, for the most part, but they do require calibration before they’re used. They’re also pretty good at finding AC wiring within walls. A big problem with these stud detectors is that when their batteries begin to fail, they begin to send up false positives.
How to Use a Stud Finder
Now that you’ve bought a stud locator that you have confidence in, it’s time to get down to work and put it to good use. Here are a few tips for getting started with your new device.
Read Device’s Instructions – Always make sure that you follow your device’s instructions and have read the instruction manual thoroughly before you begin.
Determine Your Stud Finder Type – The first thing you’re going to want to do is find out which model you’re using. If you’re using a magnetic model, then you are going to have to do a little bit of guesswork to determine the exact center of a stud. On the other hand, if you’re using an electronic one, then you should begin by calibrating the device.
Survey the Area – You are going to need to know the exact dimensions of what you’re intending on hanging. You need to determine where the top of the object is, so you know how far down you have to go in order to mount it. Once you’ve determined where to mount it, you can then use that height to start looking for wall studs. Before beginning, be sure to remove any photo nails, staples, or other objects which could interfere with the stud locator.
Check Your Stud Finder – Ensure that the flat end of the stud finder is clear of any debris or dust and make sure that if you’re using an electronic model, that you have fresh batteries in it.
Begin Finding the Stud – Wall studs are between 16-inches to 24-inches apart, so you’ll be looking for studs in a two-foot span of wall. Begin looking a foot to the left from where you want to drill your first hole. Press the unit flat against the wall and turn it on. Begin to slide the stud finder to the right, holding it flush against the wall.
Pay Attention to the Stud Finder – When your electronic stud locator beeps or flashes light, or your magnetic one makes a popping sound, then retrace your route and double check the location of the area where the alert began.
Mark the Spot on the Wall – If you have an edge finder, then you are going to have to look for the other edge of the stud and mark that location, too. When that’s done, you can then determine the stud’s center.
Double Check Your Results – It would be easy to just stop right there guessing that you’ve found your stud. However, it’s important that you double check these results. Make sure to run through all of the steps again and make sure that you’ve actually found your wall stud. Then check for studs that may exist to the left or right of the studs you intend to mount your project upon. If these studs are 16-inches to 24-inches from your stud, then you can be pretty sure that you actually found a stud and didn’t receive a false positive from your tool.
Begin Your Project – Now that you’ve checked and double checked your results, it’s time to go ahead and mount your mirror, shelf or picture. Just be sure to take your time, use common sense and take it slowly. If you do that, then you can avoid many of the mishaps that befall people who mount heavy objects to wall studs.