Homedit is supported by our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Best Stud Finder: See Through Walls Better Than Superman

Finding the best stud finder for your DIY needs is easy. After you determine why you need one, you can start shopping.

Best Stud Finder

A stud finder will help find wooden studs so you’ll know where they are on the other side of a wall or ceiling. Many stud finders are good for basic detection, but others have advanced features that provide more information.

Here we’ll give you detailed reviews from our home editorial staff on seven of the best stud finders on the market today. Before we get started, we’ll learn more about stud finders and their usefulness.

You want to make the most informed purchase possible, and the only way to do that is to have the right information.

What Is A Stud Finder? 

What is a Stud Finder? 

A stud finder is a device that detects wood boards behind drywall surfaces. Electronic models with advanced scanners have stud detection technology that can pinpoint electrical wires and a non-ferrous metal like copper piping. 

With a stud finder, you can locate wires or wood studs using a magnetic stud finder or you can use electronic stud finders. Magnetic stud finders have magnets that help locate screws or nails in a wood stud.

Electronic stud finders, on the other hand, wall scanners with sensors that alert you when they detect a stud. The information is displayed on an LCD screen for your convenience. 

Best Stud Finders For DIY

Dewalt Stud Finder

Dewalt Stud FinderView in gallery

This Dewalt Stud Finder is good for wood and metal detection. You can eliminate the guessing and locate studs with ease. While regular stud sensors identify a stud’s edge, this one locates a stud’s center, allowing for a more accurate read even when held at an angle. 

To save time, the sensor is calibrated. After it locates a stud behind a plaster wall, for example, it sounds an audible alarm and LED arrows indicate the location. The exact center marking channel makes it easy to identify the stud’s center.

Pros:

  • Live wire detection.
  • Constant auto-calibration.
  • Accurate even when held at an angle.

Cons:

  • Poor plastic construction.

Stanley Stud Finder

Stanley Stud FinderView in gallery

The Stanley stud finder is one of the most affordable stud finders of its kind. The stud finder is equipped with extra perks for DIY experts in need of an advanced tool. The stud finder has a clean LCD screen for information viewing. 

Unlike other stud finders, it can detect metal and wood studs at ¾ inches deep. The stud finder can identify live wires at a two inch depth. It also has a feature that locates stud centers and other hidden materials.

Pros:

  • Easy to read LCD
  • Works with metal and wood studs
  • Can identify wires and hidden materials

Cons:

  • LCD is not backlit

Craftsman Stud Finder

Craftsman Stud FinderView in gallery

CRAFTSMAN stud finders can identify stud edges or center points, as well as electrical wires, and with pinpoint accuracy. The three laser distance measurers deliver exact readings with the push of a button.

The stud finder penetrates drywall depth up to 3/4 of an inch and works on wallpapered and fabric-covered surfaces.

Pros:

  • Works on wallpaper
  • Works with metal and wood studs
  • Water-resistant body

Cons:

  • Not always accurate

Walabot Stud Finder

Stud FinderView in gallery

Walabot DIY is a state-of-the-art wall scanner that elevates stud finder technology to new heights. It uses radio frequency technology to locate studs, plumbing lines, wires, and other objects hidden inside walls.

When used with an Android device, the Walabot DIY Plus creates a visual of what is hidden behind drywall and plaster up to four inches thick. The Walabot can identify metal studs, wood studs, wires, and pipelines, as well as to detect pests by detecting movement behind the wall you’re analyzing.

Pros:

  • Compatible with Android phones
  • Works with metal studs
  • Has an image mode

Cons:

  • Not iOS compatible

Franklin Sensors with Built-in Bubble Level & Ruler

Franklin Sensors with Built-in Bubble Level & RulerView in gallery

When it comes to a stud finder, accuracy is vital. The last thing you’d want is to purchase a stud finder that doesn’t accurately show you what you’re dealing with on the other side of the wall.

You won’t have issues with this stud finder as it comes with 13 sensors that provide accurate readings. It also has multi-sensor technology allowing you to place the device on a wall and press a button. 

It also comes with a large sensor pad for a more in-depth scan, and it can even detect multiple studs at the same time. As you use the device, LED lights at the front will light up and mark the location and width of the stud.

Pros: 

  • Comes with 13 sensors for accuracy 
  • Multi-sense technology
  • Large sensor pad area 

Cons: 

  • Bulkier than other models  

DIY Zircon Stud Finder

Stud FinderView in gallery

If you’re looking for something that isn’t expensive, this is a great stud finder. It can detect both wood and metal studs that are up to 1.5 inches deep and will even let you know if it detects live electrical wiring.

This stud finder has both Studscan and DeepScan modes for your convenience, and there’s even an indicator and pointing system that will help with ensuring accurate results.

The stud finder has an ergonomically designed grip that makes it easy to hold. 

Pros: 

  • Two operating modes – Studscan and DeepScan 
  • Detects live electrical wiring and AC detection
  • Ergonomically designed 

Cons: 

  • Some customers have mentioned that it gives an error message and sound 

PERLESMITH Stud Finder Wall Detector 5 in 1

Stud FinderView in gallery

Another great stud finder, this model comes with a range of features. It has over four scanning modes, including three different stud scans, a metal scan, and an AC scan. It can detect materials from wood to metal pipes, beams, rebar, and even live AC wire behind walls, floors, and ceilings. 

It’s easy to use and provides a visual display on the LCD screen. There’s also a sound warning to help with accuracy. As a bonus, it’s lightweight, sturdy, and can be used at home, in your office, and more. It’s easy to calibrate and comes with an ergonomic design for added comfort. 

Pros: 

  • Five detecting modes 
  • It can detect live wiring, metal pipes, beams, and more 
  • Comes with a large LCD and sound warning 

Cons: 

  • Some mentioned that it isn’t very accurate 

Stud Finder Sensor Wall Scanner

Stud Finder Sensor Wall ScannerView in gallery

One of the best stud finders out there, it has Advanced Sensors Technology to help with detecting both metal and wood studs along with AC wires. It has four different scanning modes that detect materials and other objects embedded behind ceilings, floors, and walls. 

The large LCD screen and sound will let you know when it has detected a stud. The sound will also get louder when you’re close to a stud, and the direction you should go will also be indicated on the LCD screen.

This stud finder has an ergonomic grip, and it comes with automatic calibration for reliability and accuracy. 

Pros: 

  • Advanced sensor technology 
  • Four scanning modes 
  • Audible alarm lets you when you’re close to a stud 

Cons: 

  • Some have mentioned that they’ve gotten inconsistent readings 

CH Hanson Magnetic Stud Finder

CH Hanson Magnetic Stud FinderView in gallery

If you want a stud finder that’s small, compact and easy to bring with you, this is a great option. It can easily fit in your pocket, so it’s not hard to take with you on the go. It also comes with a powerful magnet so you won’t need any batteries to operate it. 

While it only has a scan depth of an inch, it’s an excellent basic stud finder for someone that’s not looking for something overly complicated. The two-way level also allows for ease of marking, and the ergonomic grip provides additional comfort.

Pros: 

  • Small and compact
  • Easy to use 
  • No batteries required 

Cons: 

  • Doesn’t work with thicker materials 

How Do You Use a Stud Finder and How To Find A Stud In The Wall

While the exact way to use the stud finder will depend on the actual device, the general steps are: 

  1. Turn on the device and select the scanning mode of your choice 
  2. Place the device flat on the wall and hold the button until the calibration is complete. You should be able to hear a short beep to let you know that it’s good to go. 
  3. Continue to hold the button and move the device along the surface to scan it. 
  4. When the stud finder detects that there’s an object, it will beep, and the corresponding data will be displayed on the LCD screen. 

How to Find a Stud in The Wall

How to Find a Stud in the Wall

With A Stud Finder

The simplest approach to locate a stud is to use a stud finder, a handheld device such as this one that does the searching for you. To use a stud finder, determine the location of your item and then position the stud finder in the approximate location of the mounting hardware. 

Maintaining this device flat against the wall, slowly slide it to the left or right horizontally. At that point, it will either beep or flash to warn you of a stud, depending on the model.

With A Stud Finder App

Nowadays, there is an app for almost anything – including discovering studs. The majority of stud finder applications are magnetic, which means they use the built-in magnetometer on your smartphone to locate metal items inside the wall. While this may assist you in locating a wall stud, it may also provide a false positive, as the app may identify other objects such as nails or electrical lines.

With A Wire Hanger

If you are still unable to locate the stud after drilling, there is one more technique you can try. Untwist a wire hanger to create a straight angle. Utilize your new gadget to explore the area behind the wall. When the wire makes touch with a solid object, you’ve discovered a stud.

Tapping The Wall

To determine whether or not you’ve located a stud without causing damage to your wall, Rothman recommends lightly tapping or knocking the area with your hammer. Tap slightly to the left or right if you hear an empty or a hollow sound. When the sound becomes muted, you’ve struck a stud.

Locating Wall Dimples

Dimples can give you a clue of where drywall is secured to the edge of a stud. While these are sometimes visible to the naked eye, a flashlight can assist in illuminating any minor dimples in the wall. To attempt this technique, position the spotlights parallel to the wall.

How to Find a Stud Without a Stud Finder

If you don’t have a phone app or a stud finder, there is a method to locate studs using stuff you have around the house, like a flashlight, a wire hanger, a hammer, a nail, and some tape measure.

Step One

Project a flashlight against the wall at a steel angle. Scan the surface for a column of dimples and bumps. These imperfections are formed by nails that secure the wall’s surface to the studs, indicating that there is almost probably a stud beneath them.

Step Two

Look for outlets or nails in the baseboard. The baseboard is often nailed to the studs, and outlets are typically nailed to the studs’ sides as well. Electrical switches are also frequently positioned on the sides of studs further up the wall.

Step Three

To estimate the placement of the next stud, mark the first stud you find and measure 16 inches from it.  In that place, look for the same symptoms of a stud, or knock sharply on the wall with your knuckles and pay attention to any solid sound rather than a hollow one. If you do not locate evidence of a second stud 16 inches from the first, measure 24 inches from the first and examine again.

Step Four

In the area where you believe you have discovered a stud, drive a small nail into the wall. If the nail does not penetrate the wood beneath the drywall or plaster, pull it out and replace it with a wire hanger. The hanger should be twisted. If you are looking in the correct position and are slightly off, the hanger should strike the stud, indicating location.

Stud Finder vs Magnetic Stud Finder

While a high-powered magnet can indeed find a stud by picking up on the metal screws, it just doesn’t work as well as a stud finder. But, in a pinch, if you don’t have a stud finder, a magnet can get the job done. 

Keep in mind that it may scratch your wall, so be careful. A stud finder is designed to smooth over the surface of your walls without causing damage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Can I Use My iPhone as a Stud Finder?

Yes, you can. Stud Find is an iPhone application that makes use of the device’s included magnetometer to locate metal studs, nails, screws, and other metallic objects in a wall. When the iPhone’s magnetometer, located in the upper right corner of the phone, comes into contact with metal, you will hear an audio cue.

How Exactly Does Your Stud Finder Work?

Stud finders are little gadgets that are used to locate wood, metal, and wiring that runs through drywall, allowing you to find something sturdy to screw items to. They are typically handheld devices that are used to detect areas of denser material behind the device.

Naturally, the hardwood beam is denser than the frail plasterboard, which is what stud finders detect. They frequently generate a beeping noise or flash an LED when they detect the presence of a stud behind the gadget. This notifies you of the beam’s location, allowing you to make a mark and begin using the stud.

How Far Apart Are Ceiling Studs?

Typically, ceiling joists are built 16 or 24 inches on center, which implies they are approximately 16 or 24 inches apart. Once you’ve identified the first, the remaining ones are much easier to locate. If all you need to know is which direction the joists travel, gain access to the attic and inspect.

Do Stud Finders Work on Metal Studs?

Certain homes contain steel studs, which necessitate the use of specialized fasteners in order for them to be able to support heavy objects. If you have any doubts about whether your home contains steel studs, you can verify this using a magnet that you run against the wall.  

While screws and nails in wood studs attract magnets, steel studs will attract a magnet throughout their length. An electronic wall stud finder may identify metal within a wall.

What Is the Difference Between a Deep Scan and a Stud Scan?

There are certain electronic stud finders which are labeled as multipurpose”. They are intended to identify extra items within walls, such as live electrical lines and plastic pipes, to ensure that you do not nail or cut into anything hazardous.

Stud scan and deep scan are two modes that can be found on these types of devices. A stud scan will detect studs and their edges, while a unit that also features the “deep scan” feature can identify other items that are usually located inside a wall and that you definitely don’t want to puncture when drilling holes in the wall. 

How Deep Can Stud Finders Work?

Electronic models allow you to adjust the depth to detect studs 3/4-inch deep below drywall or to locate any number of objects which are found 1 or one and a half inches under the surface. 

While the ability to look further under the surface is advantageous for locating floor joists behind additional surface coverings such as carpet, tile, or wood, you will not want to use your electronic stud finder at this level on a consistent basis. 

If you increase the depth adjustment, you will consume more energy and deplete the batteries faster. By switching between modes and generally using it in stud-finding mode, you can conserve battery life.

Magnetic stud finders operate to a depth of approximately 3/4-inch, which is usually sufficient to locate studs under typical 1/2-inch or 5/8-inch drywall. When a nail or screw is discovered, a stud is discovered. Because drywall fasteners are normally 12 to 16 inches apart, it is recommended that you glide a magnetic stud finder over the wall in a “S” pattern to detect one more quickly.

Is It worth Buying a Stud Finder?

A stud finder is useful for locating concealed studs. Having information on where studs are is critical so that you can screw into them rather than the walls when hanging something heavy, like a mirror or if you want to mount something heavier on the wall, like a TV set. 

Even so, some stud finders come with additional features, like AC wire detection and deep scanning. That is not to say they always do what they are meant to do.

There is a lot going on within walls, and despite how much technology has improved, it can be difficult for any equipment to parse it all and discern what is a pipe and what is a wire from the outside. 

When Should You Use a Stud Finder?

If you’ve ever had to install a bookshelf or a mirror, you’ve almost certainly had to determine the location of the studs under the drywall. That is because attaching anything substantial to drywall may eventually result in the item collapsing to the floor. 

Because drywall is not strong enough to support heavyweight, it is better to use nails or screws when hanging heavier items on wood studs located behind drywall. 

Stud Finder Conclusion

Often, DIY projects require you to hang something from a drywall surface at home. When you encounter such a project, you should be prepared. This is why owning stud finder is essential.

Whether you use a regular stud finder or one with advanced features, make sure it can find the stud material you need. You wouldn’t want to buy a stud finder that could only detect wood when you wanted to find metal or detect copper behind a wall.  

Choose a stud finder that has advanced features. Magnetic stud finders are reliable and can locate metal studs behind drywall surfaces. 

Electronic stud finders have LCD screens that offer easy visualization. With deep scan mode technology, many stud finders can detect drywall screws and wooden studs. If you’re looking for live electrical wires or metal objects, use a stud finder equipped with a wire detection feature and multiple sensors.

When working with thicker walls, you’ll need to spend more an advanced stud finder, but the small price tag is a good upfront investment.

Detecting studs isn’t hard when you have the right tools. For home repair, your DIY tools should provide accurate results.