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Get to Know Your Stud Finder

No, we’re not announcing a new dating app. Stud finders are an essential tool for even the most novice DIY’er or homeowner. They help you easily locate the safest spots to hang art, install shelves, or mount a television and are available in a variety of price points, complexity, and ease of use. We’re sharing a few of our favorites below (with a quick and dirty best practices guide once you’re ready).

Stud Wall Diagram

What is a Stud?

Studs are wood boards that serve as structural support in a building’s framing. Most studs in a home are spaced 16 or 24 inches apart and run vertically from floor to ceiling. When hanging a television, heavy piece of art, or installing shelving, you’ll need to locate the studs to attach fasteners since drywall and plaster are not strong enough to secure these items on their own. 

Types of Stud Finders

Density Stud Finder


This stud finder is sensing the differences in density between the studs and negative space around them. 

Both the density and magnetic versions use batteries, are handheld, and quite simple to use. 

Magnetic Stud Finder


Uses magnetic charges to find either the magnetic (metal or steel) stud (often used in commercial and multiunit residential construction), the metal nails and used in wooden studs or laths, or the metal screws used to connect the drywall to the stud.

Knocking the Wall

Knocking the Wall

Perhaps the least effective but most cost effective way to locate a stud. Tapping on a part of a wall that has no stud will produce a low, hollow sound. Tapping over a stud will produce a solid, higher sound. Use a hammer (with a cloth or protective covering over the head) to get a better reading–the weight helps you!

*Hint: start by looking for electrical outlets on the wall; the electrical box is often mounted directly onto a stud.

Stud Pop

One of our pros suggested a Stud Pop for every homeowner, and we have to agree–this little gadget is a revolution! Simply move the device back and forth along a wall until you see the blue ball “pop,” indicating you’ve located a metal fastener holding the wall board to the center of the stud. Once you’ve found one, move the Stud Pop 16” to the left and right, and you should find more studs.

Don’t Forget

Older homes (or homes that have been previously remodeled) may not have studs positioned evenly across the walls. Be sure to spot check as you go (and before you make any marks or holes!).

Once you’ve located a stud, be sure to repeat your process from floor to ceiling to ensure the stud runs the full length.

Use painter’s tape to mark a stud’s location so you don’t have to mark the walls.

Be sure to find and mark a couple studs on either side of the stud you want to use. Once you’ve done that, measure the distance between them to confirm they’re either 16 or 24 inches apart. This way you know you’ve found a stud and not plumbing or electrical wiring. 

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