Best Stud finders are handy for finding the studs located behind walls. Though it may work, to some extent, the ‘tap and guess’ technique will generally leave your wall or ceiling with so many unnecessary holes. A stud finder will save you lots of time by detecting the location of studs. Having a reliable stud finder, therefore, saves you not only the agony of making several wrong guesses, but it also eliminates the need to repaint your wall, which results from the use of traditional methods.
You have several options of stud finders to choose from. However, there is no one-size-fits-all stud finder for the needs of all individuals. Here, we break down for you a list of the most reliable stud finders in various situations, complete with their special features, as well as pros and cons. Stud finders are largely either magnetic or electronic.
Magnetic stud finders have a magnet, which they use to find the screws that fasten your drywall in the right place. However, they are incapable of sensing the real studs, hence finding the exact centre involves some guesswork. They are also cheaper compared to electronic stud finders which come with active sensors, though they are not as many.
On the other hand, electronic stud finders sense variances in wall density to locate studs. They are normally powered by batteries. Most of them can sense metal or wood studs and a number of them come with AC power sensors. The simplest of the electronic models can help in locating stud edges while some reveal the full stud width. They are more costly compared to magnetic models, but not exorbitantly so. You can still get some of the best electronic models at a price lower than $25.
The fast-paced evolution in modern technology now makes it possible to find apps for both android and iPhone smartphones. Such apps utilize the phone’s magnetometer (the same sensor which powers the compass) to sense screws or metal nails beneath the drywall. The screws and nails are likely to be within the stud that you are trying to find. However, these apps are incapable of gauging wall density or sensing real wooden studs.
Stud finders are not the only tools capable of detecting objects that are underneath the wall surface. Wall scanners are also known to perform the same function quite well. Professionals mostly use the radar-like implements to find out what lies beyond the walls, other than studs.
Some individuals still use a hammer or knuckle to find studs. As much as there some are people who are good in using this method, it is rather unreliable when it comes to sensing studs in your drywall.
Top Tips in the Usage of Stud Finders
- Ensure your hands are off the wall to forestall any form of interference.
- Ensure you know whether your type of stud finder requires calibration. If yes, how is it done?
- While doing the detection, ensure your stud finder remains flat against the wall.
- Use a combination of a crossline laser and a stud finder to mark the whole stud length or to hit a similar height across several studs.
- To ensure the optimum accuracy, mark your location from many directions unless you are making use of a full-stud sensor. If you don’t want to mark straight on the paint, a bit of a painter’s tape can serve you well.
- Studs are normally 24 inches away from each other (for ceilings) and 16 inches apart (for walls). Whenever you struggle to find one, just get a better reading on a different part of the wall and take the measurement.
- Stud finders can also do a great job in locating joists on ceilings.
- Finding studs in any plaster wall can be a bit tricky. Many stud finders are unreliable on lathe and plaster. You are better off using metal detectors instead.
- For electronic stud finders, it is prudent to always have a spare set of batteries with you.
Below are some of our top recommendations.
Best Magnetic Stud Finder
CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder ($14.99)
The magnetic stud finders are more old-fashioned compared to the more advanced modern types. Regardless of their simplicity, the magnetic finders are a good option for anyone who is out for something that doesn’t need batteries to work.
The CH Hanson 03040 is a good example of an effective magnetic stud finder. Its built-in magnet is automatically attracted to the screws and nails that keep the home’s frame in place, giving you a hint regarding the location of the studs behind the drywall.
- Its body comes with a two-way level which makes it easy to hang the gadget from a metallic stud to improve the accuracy of levelling surfaces such as walls.
- The pointed arrow located on the bottom appropriately marks the safe spot for nails and screws. Hence, it makes it unnecessary to use trial and error when hanging frames, pictures and other things on the walls.
- The CH Hanson 03040 is fitted with more powerful magnets as compared to several of its challengers. The potent rare earth magnets effortlessly locate fasteners and metal studs without any requirement for power.
- It also comes with a spinning bubble level, which is a useful feature on any magnetic model.
Due to its inability to electronically detect the centre and sides, it is vital to attain the stud finder level to easily track the stud. However, this assumes that the stud is also straight, which is not always the case.
- Powerful magnets
- Tried-and-true easy operation
- Senses wood stud fasteners and detects ferrous metal studs
- Reasonably priced
- Incorporated spinning bubble level
Incapable of sensing centre and wood studs
Best Electronic Wall Stud Finder
DeWalt DW0150 Stud Finder ($19.99)
When it comes to the ability to precisely sense studs and AC, there are several options for the best electronic wall stud finders. However, DeWalt DW0150 Stud Finder is undoubtedly ahead of the pack. This particular type is a centre-sensing stud finder that has LED indicators which make it easier for you to locate the centre of the stud.
The finder also checks any live AC wiring while continually auto-calibrating for wall density. There are a couple of models in the market and their prices depend on their detection depth. You are better off paying a few more dollars to get more detection depth whenever necessary.
- Good at detecting live AC
- Finds wood or metal studs
- An easy single-button operation
- Continually auto-calibrates
- Senses stud centres
The ergonomics don’t add much value
Finest Professional Stud Finder
Franklin ProSensor 710 ($74.95)
Accuracy is the most important aspect of any stud finder. There is no point in spending even a single cent on any tool that you cannot fully rely on to carry out important tasks. Knowing what is on the other side of the wall is critical in carrying out a successful project. The Franklin ProSensor 710 is the stud finder that you need to get a precise and comprehensive look while searching for studs.
With the advantage of being wider than most of its counterparts, Franklin ProSensor continually checks 13 points besides being capable of detecting depths as deep as 1.6 inches. Being a full-width stud finder, it enables you to see the whole stud width. This makes it possible for you to have a clearer picture of the stud, which is vital in marking its entire width or accurately marking its centre. For the highest degree of accuracy, it also comes with a ruler running along its edge for easier reference.
Due to its precision, this particular stud finder can sense a broad area of the wall when in search of studs beneath it. Its width advantage comes with the advantage of accurately detecting stud locations as the finder moves on the surface. On encountering a stud, its front LED-lights turn on, indicating the position and width of the stud. This makes it easier to know the beginning and the end of the stud while you work.
- Great accuracy, with full-width indicators
- Deeper sensing abilities
- Single-hand operation
- Calibrations are not necessary
- Manufactured in the USA
- More costly compared to other basic stud finders.
- Bigger compared to many other units
Best Budget Stud Finder
Zircon Pro StudSensor A100 Wall Scanner ($22.99)
A budget stud finder sounds like a pocket-friendly option for your random weekend home project. It is, however, advisable to tread carefully, because several budget alternatives lack the desirable accuracy needed to dependably drill into your walls. Generally, most budget options come with basics but lack any additional detecting abilities.
Zircon Pro StudSensor A100 offers you the basic metal and wood stud detection at a pocket-friendly price. Nevertheless, this finder comes with several handy features that will interest you.
- Detects both metal and wood studs up to 1.5inches deep.
- Flashes and beeps on picking up a stud edge.
- Ability to sense live AC wires, using its StudScan and DeepScan modes. Hence, it is capable of avoiding electrical hazards due to accidental drilling into live wires.
- An ergonomically made grip enables the user to have a comfortable hold on the gadget, at any given angle, regardless of their hand size.
Note: Before use, it is important to always install a fresh 9-Volt alkaline battery. Zircon stud finders, especially those that come with screens, require and use high amounts of battery current. Hence, for them to perform optimally, you need to use new alkaline batteries with an extended date of expiry for the tools.
Best Stud Finder for Metals
Zircon MetalliScanner m40 ($41.31)
Metal support material can be tricky to detect when using stud finders that are typically standardised for wood studs. Not even the magnetic finders can detect all kinds of metal since some metals lack magnetic characteristics. The Zircon MetalliScanner M40 is built to sense a wide range of metal objects and supports behind ceilings, walls and floors.
The MetalliScanner senses both magnetic (ferrous) and non-magnetic (non-ferrous) metals behind several non-metal floors, walls and ceilings. Other than metal support structures and studs, the finder is great for locating smaller items such as nails and screws that might be embedded deeply into the wall (up to 4-inches deep). The blue coil will change, as the finder moves, to show the exact location of any detected object.
Finding studs embedded in a plaster wall is never an easy task. Magnetic and electronic finders are normally not reliable for such a task. The MetalliScanner M40 is technically more of a metal detector than a stud finder. Hence, it can detect metal in a wide range of materials, plaster included. The lathe is known to have more nails than just those found on the stud. Hence, it takes a good stud finder to perform the task.
- Detects metals that are deeper compared to magnetic models
- More accurate in finding studs on plaster than most conventional stud finders.
- Comes with a pinpoint scan which is useful in finding screw and nails more easily.
- Not the best option if your plaster wall has wire mesh.
- To get the most accurate outcomes, you have to run it several times both vertically and horizontally.
- Metal pipes, as well as other metallic objects, might throw your search off-track
Best Floor/Ceiling Joists Stud Finder
Bosch Digital Gms120 Wall Scanner ($63.21)
Having an accurate idea about the support that lies beneath the walls, floors or ceilings is always vital. This is especially so when you have a project that needs hammering or drilling into such surfaces. Ceilings can be particularly delicate given that it can only take one screw or nail in the wrong place to bring a large part of drywall down onto your head or the floor. The Bosch Digital Gms120 offers the best multi-scanning option, which is easy to hold in difficult positions, as you try to reach the ceiling or floor.
This particular finder’s ergonomic brand comes with a multi-mode detector with the ability to sense metal support objects, wood studs, as well as live AC wires. It is arguably the best finder for floors as it offers up to 4.5 inches of scan depth and is capable of handling dense materials, including cured concrete.
The finder’s audible sensing indicators and the LCD display also offer lots of feedback for locating any objects that are below the floor surface.
- Superb Detecting ability: the Bosch Digital Gms120 model packs a multi-mode laser sensing for metal objects (studs, rebar and copper/steel pipes), wood studs, and live wiring.
- Superior performance: It comes with the modern three sensor laser technology, that offers a broad range of sensing performance (up to a depth of 4.75 inches for cured concrete, 3.125 inches deep for copper, 2 inches deep for any live wiring and 1.5 inches for wood studs.
- Great display: comes with an illumined graphical LCD display to signal mode, strength, detection and much more. When the big sensing ring flashes green, it means no object; orange means object nearby and red means object detected within the sensor range.
- Centre Finder: It features a centre finder which can locate the object centre employing an audible detection indicator that has an on and off button.
- Self-calibrating: comes with three selection modes for metal, wood, and AC wiring; the finder provides automatic calibration from the onset and goes on with self-calibration through the entire duration of the project for accurate and easy detection.
Best Live Wiring Stud Finder:
The SunnyHome Fetanten TS005 ($16)
Live electrical wires are some of the most dangerous things that can be hidden in ceilings or walls. The wiring to the outlets, lights and switches can easily kill an individual hammering or drilling into a wall while the power is on. Even if the power is off, severing wires while drilling into your wall leaves a costly trail of destruction behind. With its ability to sense the smaller profile wiring, the Fetanten TS005 can save you the agony.
The finder comes with four distinct kinds of scanning models for AC wires, metals, woods, and any deeply embedded objects. Its AC sensing mode is thoroughly precise with a range of under +1/-1. The simple graphical display comes with arrows that shift shape and location to precisely mark any presence of sensed objects as you slide the finder about. Given that it has only three front buttons, the finder is quite easy to use.
- Easy to operate: the wall scanner can rapidly find ceilings, floors and live AC wires. The fast detection will save lots of your time and effort, which makes completing the task at hand much easier. One button located on the middle of its body makes it possible to select any of the four scanning modes of the finder. Another button on the left of the finder makes it easy to read any information displayed on the LCD screen and rapidly sense the objects beneath.
- Four scanning Modes: the finder offers four distinct scanning modes used for detection. Depending on what task you are performing at any given time, you can easily switch from one mode to the next.
- Precise Detector technology: it comes with a big LCD display that displays the desired material of the stud and its accurate location. The display, together with a loud sound warning, make it easier to sense the accurate position of objects. The visible and audible cues will reliably keep you informed. Whenever objects like AC live wiring or metal studs are located, the device beeps and displays a signal.
Best Stud finders for Home Use
Franklin ProSensor T6 ($24.99)
The Franklin ProSensor T6 is among the latest full stud sensors. It packs a series of six lights on its front part. Whenever it senses any change in density, it will light up the entire width of the object or any other material that might be behind it.
The finder doesn’t need any calibration and you can begin your read in any place, including over the stud. The engagement button is located on the left; hence any right-hand user can perfectly operate the device using the thumb. The left-handed people will have to use their index or middle finger.
It is fitted with no-mar pads on its bottom so that device doesn’t mess up your ceiling or wall as you search. Using this particular finder is very simple. Given that it comes with a compact and lightweight body, it slides across a ceiling or wall quite naturally.
The Franklin Prosensor T6 is not only easy to use but also one of the most accurate full stud finders. Its ease of control, accurate readings and the fact that you can use one hand to operate it make it a natural choice for any professional looking for a reliable wholes stud finder. Its batteries are also quite easy to access whenever the time to change them comes. You just need to pop up the black cover at the centre of the unit to find the batteries.
Given that the stud finders are not outdoor tools, they are normally not well-protected against dust and weather. However, that is not a big deal for this particular device. It comes with an additional rubber cover that acts as protection if it drops.
As much as $25 might seem a little more on the higher side for this category of finders, it is worth each cent. Its accuracy and design make it a worthy device to have in your toolbox.
- Fast and easy to use.
- No calibration is needed – instantly locates studs.
- Comes with precise and deep detection.
- Displays stud edges and centre concurrently (detects metal and wood).
- Comes with a broad horizontal (3-inch) LED display.
- Packs six precision sensors, constantly on deep sensing, multi-sense technology.
- A 10-inch detecting area
- Easy to operate
- Full stud detection
- Calibration is not necessary
- High level of accuracy
- Compact body and slight profile – stores easily
Slightly expensive than most of the other stud finders in its category.
Our Final Thoughts on the Best Stud Finder Options
Additional Stud Finder Resources on Tool Guides Hub
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