Stud Finder

Best Stud Finders Buying Guide

Stud finders are extremely useful for locating studs behind walls. In a hurry, the tried-and-true “tap and guess” method would work, but how many holes do you want in your wall? Investing in the best stud finder might help you avoid the frustrations and repainting that come with older systems.

There are numerous “best” stud finder choices available. But, let’s face it, no single model will meet everyone’s requirements. To assist you, our staff has compiled a list of our best stud finders in various situations, as well as what we like and dislike about each.

The Best Stud Finders

The bulk of the stud finders we tried was accurate and dependable, which surprised me and the ones that weren’t , simply didn’t make the cut.

Steel fasteners, live wires, and pipes are all detected by the stud finders listed below. The double-stud structure will be detected by some.

To see how accurate the stud finders were, I built a test wall that resembled the layout of an actual wall and allowed me to see how precise they were. Find out what my tests found and why the stud finders listed below made the Top Picks list.

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Bosch Professional 601081000 Stud Finder GMS 120 (Max. Detection Depth Wood/Magnetic Metal/Non-Magnetic Metal/Live Cable: 38/120/80/50 mm, in Cardboard Box) , Black/Blue

WATCH THE COLOUR PROMPTS

The first item we’ll look at is a Bosch stud finder, with the outside being the first thing we’ll look at. The gadget is housed in a dark blue plastic casing with an easy-to-read display and six control buttons on the front. The first design aspect that caught our eye was a circular port with four LEDs around its circumference, which was located just above the display. The LEDs’ purpose is to alert you to in-wall items that are close to the finder and the port, allowing you to make a mark on the wall. Despite the fact that these LEDs quadruple the device scale in terms of displaying the presence of neighbouring items within the wall, they may be useful for individuals with poor vision, as the LEDs allow them to discern the direction of a close item even without using glasses. The battery compartment lid is the only feature on the Bosch GMS120’s rear. Despite the fact that the model runs on a single 17R8H battery, it is somewhat big and hefty, which is justified by the finder’s extensive capability.

AN EXTREMELY SENSITIVE FINDER

Wood and metal beams and columns, as well as nonferrous metal parts and electric wiring, may all be detected with the Bosch GMS120. By pushing the specific button on the gadget, you may pick a relevant detecting mode. Please keep in mind that each mode has its own scanning depth limit. The GMS120, for example, can detect ferrous metal up to 4-3/4 inches deep, nonferrous metals up to 3-1/8 inches deep, wire up to 2 inches deep, and wood components up to 1-1/2 inches deep. The items discovered by this Bosch stud finder will be alerted to you in two ways: a loud signal and LED flashing.When the object gets close to the gadget, the built-in LED changes colour from green to yellow, then red. As a result, in addition to the visible indication of scanning progress, beeping signals alert you to a nearby in-wall object. By hitting the key, you may turn off the buzzer notice at any time.

POWER EFFICIENCY ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE

When it comes to other features, one that seems particularly useful to us is the tool’s display, which has a backlight that can be switched on and off at any time. We also discovered that the Bosch GMS120 switches off after around 5 minutes of inactivity, which adds to its usability characteristics while also extending battery life. The set includes a hand strap that allows you to carry the tool in the same way you would a bundle of keys, as well as a carrying bag for secure transit.

We were pleasantly delighted to discover that the device’s casing is dust and water splash resistant, according to the IP54 standard. However, given that the item may be used outside, the presence of such protection would undoubtedly be beneficial, since it enhances the equipment’s dependability and extends its service life.

Given all of this, such a detector may be recommended to individuals who frequently use such gadgets, particularly for duty of service. The Bosch GMS120 will be an ideal choice for swiftly locating and displaying concealed things in walls.

CH Hanson 03040 Stud 4 Sure Magnetic Stud Finder

SO SMALL THAT YOU CAN FORGET YOU PUT IT IN YOUR POCKET

Now we’d like to draw your attention to a stud finder that works with magnets. The CH Hanson 03040 gadget features a simple design with no display or controls, just a bubble tube in the centre that also functions as a levelling gauge. The 03040 finder is small and light, weighing only 2.4 ounces. You may simply carry it in the pocket of your shirt or pants as a result of this,Unlike many rival items, which require adequate attachment to the hand, wrist, or belt, this one does not. The tool’s modest dimensions, however, aren’t its sole benefit. The CH Hanson 03040 stud finder also has a power-independent design, which is one of its many advantages. Let’s take a deeper look at how it works.

AS SIMPLE AS ABC

Two rare-earth magnets are used by the finder to discover concealed things in walls. The CH Hanson stud finder is a straightforward and easy-to-use instrument with a simple design. Simply lay the finder on a wall surface and sweep it in an S-shaped pattern across the wall until you feel the device magnet attract to a hidden object, indicating that you’ve located the thing. Furthermore, you can hang the CH Hanson 03040 on the wall until you have a marker or a pencil to record the location of the metal object.As the beam it is attached to moves vertically across the wall, you may begin drilling or driving self-tapping screws in a location under or above the identified object. Furthermore, because this instrument is equipped with a levelling gauge, you may use it to draw horizontal lines across the items identified and indicate the places of horizontal beams after identifying metal objects. One of this model’s disadvantages is that it has a shallow detecting depth of only 3/4 inch. You will have no trouble identifying structural iron in drywall if you use the detector.

USE THE INTEGRATED LEVELING GAUGE

Let’s take a closer look at the device’s extra convenience function, which we highlighted before. To make the most of the limited empty space in the detector casing, the manufacturer opted to include yet another essential device: a two-direction bulb level. You may quickly find metal items in the wall using the magnets and the level, and mark the horizontals and verticals on which the objects are positioned. As a result, the gadget will be extremely useful for locating in-wall metal profiles, because after the finder has been attracted to the wall, simply follow the level and note the required spots.

By the way, we discovered that this item is not protected by a manufacturer’s warranty owing to its simplicity of design, so don’t be shocked if the vendor does not supply one, since the CH Hanson 03040 has nothing to break.

This CH Hanson model comes with a plastic hook that allows you to hang the gadget on the wall in your workspace for further convenience. This minor function is really important, as the finder’s modest size makes it easy to lose amid other equipment. As a result, by hanging it on the wall, you’ll always know where it is.

Tavool 4 in 1

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Stud Finder Wall Scanner - 4 in 1 Stud Detector Detector Beam Finders Wall Detector Sensor Center Finding with LCD Display for Wood AC Wire Metal Studs Cable Joist Detection (Stud Finder)

ERGONOMIC BODY

It’s no surprise that the Tavool Wall Scanner appears considerably more contemporary than the other stud finders on our list. This device’s technology is cutting-edge, and its features are equally so. However, before we get into these specifics, let’s have a look at the scanner’s construction and profile. To begin with, the device’s form is as ergonomic as it gets, so you’ll have no trouble gripping, holding, and using it. Even with damp hands, the rubber-coated surface of this scanner makes it simple and comfortable to grip.

With dimensions of 16.5 x 7.1 x 2.8 cm and a weight of 204 grammes, you’ll be able to use the gadget with one hand without becoming fatigued. The LCD display is big and simple to see. It’s also lighted, so you’ll be able to see the numbers/measurements even in dim light. One 9V (6LR61) battery powers the gadget. The battery is not included in the packaging, however they can be found and purchased anywhere.

We couldn’t overlook the uninformative handbook when it came to the product’s shortcomings. Sure, the item is simple to operate, but not owing to the documentation.

MINIMISE FALSE POSITIVES

Stud scan (0.75 inches/19 millimetres deep), deep scan (1.5 in./38 mm), metal scan (2.36 in./60 mm), and AC wire scan (2 in./50 mm) are the device’s four scanning modes. The deep scan option will easily scan through two thicknesses of drywall. This option should only be used when there are numerous layers of wallboard or panelling. Always start with the stud scan mode first to avoid false positives and ensure you don’t locate the stuff you weren’t looking for deeper behind the wall.

Metals such as pipes, aluminium, copper, and rebars will always be detected by this scanner. The difference is that the metal scan mode will inform you if you’re dealing with a wooden stud, a metal stud, or something else.

MULTISENSE TECHNOLOGY

The AC wire mode is particularly good at finding unshielded cables that are up to 2 inches (50 millimetres) deep. When you locate these wires (as well as studs, pipes, and other objects), the LCD screen will always display the direction, while the strength of the beeping sound will indicate if you are approaching the objective. The device’s automated calibration, last but not least, will save you time and effort.

To summarise, the Tavool Wall Scanner is more comfortable and effective than the majority of stud finders. The device’s multi-sense technology works wonders when it comes to finding studs, wood, and AC cables across/inside the wall. Furthermore, the price is more than reasonable to warrant the purchase.

What is a Stud Finder & How Does It Work?

Nowadays, there are several instruments available for house improvements that make the process much easier. A stud finder is one of them, and its primary function is to discover frame studs hidden under a wall surface. For individuals who need to drill holes in dry walls or particleboards and hammer nails or drive screws straight into a vertical metal or timber stud, a stud finder is a must-have instrument. Of course, if you’re an experienced builder, you may just tap on a wall to discover hollows. Finding studs with a specialised gadget, on the other hand, we believe is significantly easier. Furthermore, it will assist you in detecting electrical lines hidden behind walls, allowing you to escape electric shocks.

If you’re currently remodelling your house, it’s time to upgrade your toolbox with new tools for more ease. To begin, try using a laser level to align and balance all of the items in your home, and then toss out your old measuring tape because laser metres are more practical and offer a whopping measurement distance of up to 300 feet!

What to Know Before Buying a Stud Finder

Stud finders are classified into two kinds based on how they detect studs: magnetic or electronic. One isn’t always superior to the other; rather, each has distinct advantages in different scenarios. In our hands-on tests, we put both sorts of tools to the test, and the results were somewhat surprising, so don’t miss those tests and reviews below our guide.

What Features to Compare

Type

Electronic and magnetic type finders can be used to discover hidden things in walls. Magnetic finders are distinguished by the absence of electronic components and the presence of one or more magnets as operational components in their design. Electronic versions have unique sensors that detect changes in a wall’s dielectric permeability or dielectric capacitivity, as well as variations in electric field strength. The information about the items found in this manner is presented on the screen, and for stud finder versions with a simpler design, it is displayed using ordinary LEDs. As a result, you can not only establish the position of an item but also its breadth. The operation of these electronic detecting devices, of course, necessitates the use of an AA or nine-volt battery, which is often utilised.

Detectable Objects

Depending on the type of finder, the types of items you can find with it may vary. Mechanical versions, for example, may easily identify metal items in walls; however, these finders are often incapable of detecting things at depths more than 3/4 inch. Mechanical detectors have reached the end of their capabilities; thus, if you want a gadget with more capabilities, electronic ones are the best choice. Some versions with built-in sensors and scanners can detect not only metalware and metal profiles inside walls, but also concealed wiring (active and dead) and even gas or water pipelines – up to 4 inches deep.

Features and Usability

It’s only natural for any manufacturer to try to make their product easier to use by adding specific features. Some models, for example, may not only display information about the item on the display but also provide a sound signal to the user. Other versions may have specific pointers that point to the location of a hidden object, making it easy to mark the spot using a pencil or marker pen. It’s also worth mentioning that most electronic versions have many modes for detecting different sorts of objects, each of which is represented on the screen by a symbol. This type of indicator makes it much easier to utilise the detector.

If you frequently work in dim light, we recommend getting a model with a backlight, which will make viewing the information on the display much easier. When shopping for an electronic detector, it’s a good idea to find out what sort of batteries the gadget uses and how many there are. Changing a set of four AA batteries is easier and less expensive than replacing the same number of nine-volt batteries, according to our experience. Finally, keep in mind that you may need to carry the detector in the pocket of your shirt or jeans, in which case every extra ounce will cause pain.

Magnetic stud finders

Magnetic stud finders determine the location of metal screws or nails that hold drywall panels in place using powerful rare earth magnets. As you move this sort of stud finder down a wall, it is magnetically drawn to any location just above a nail or screw—you’ll feel it pulling in that direction and watch the stud finder stay! (Most magnetic stud finders are small and light, with magnets strong enough to hold through drywall.)

Magnetic stud finders function to roughly a 3/4-inch depth, which is usually enough to find studs behind typical 1/2-inch or 5/8-inch drywall. You’ve found a stud when you find a nail or screw. Because drywall fasteners are normally 12 to 16 inches apart, it’s best to sweep a magnetic stud finder over the wall in a “S” motion to find one more quickly.

PROS

  • Magnetic stud finders are relatively inexpensive.
  • They are used to locate wood studs (by locating their metal fasteners).
  • They do not require batteries to function.
  • They’re usually compact, making them easy to stow in a shirt pocket.

CONS

  • Because they detect metal rather than the stud, they can pick up any metal in the wall, such as a metal lathe used to fix plaster or a nail in a horizontal cross-board rather than a vertical stud, resulting in false positives.

Electronic stud finders

Electronic stud finders, on the other hand, use internal sensors rather than magnets to determine the location of wood studs. They detect a shift in the density of the area beyond the wall. The best stud finders are pre-calibrated and ready to use right out of the box (when batteries are inserted), however a few require calibration to ensure accurate results.

Electronic stud finders are simple to use, despite the technology’s complexity: Simply set the tool flat against the wall and carefully slide it horizontally. Depending on the model, it will sound an audio warning and display a visual signal when it detects a stud.

PROS

  • Electronic stud finders are more exact than magnetic ones at locating studs. They have an LED screen or indicator lights that can pinpoint the boundaries and exact centre of a stud.
  • High-quality electronic stud detectors can identify studs that are up to 1-1/2 inches deeper in the wall than a magnet can detect.

CONS

  • Typically, electronic stud finders are more expensive than magnetic stud finders.
  • They require batteries; if the battery dies and you don’t have spares, you may find yourself with a non-functional tool when you need it most.

Number of Sensors

Electronic stud finders, like any technology, have advanced significantly since their introduction to the construction market in the 1990s. An electronic stud finder employs sensors to detect a mass behind the wall to determine the placement of a stud. They may have a single sensor, allowing them to detect simply the edge of a stud, or several sensors, allowing them to detect both the edges and the centre of the stud. Stud finders with a single sensor and many sensors both work well on average.

Sensor Size

Sensors come in a variety of sizes. Stud finders with larger sensors provide a few benefits, including the ability to cover a greater area and (in certain cases) the ability to penetrate thicker or more substantial walls, such as plaster or concrete. Smaller sensors, on the other hand, have the potential to be extremely accurate. Sensor size isn’t an issue for most house DIYers because a standard stud finder with smaller or larger sensors will be able to locate studs under drywall.

Other Helpful Features

Today’s stud finders can also carry a punch: several are equipped with capabilities that enhance the stud finder’s utility and make it more convenient. Choose the qualities that you believe will be the most useful from this list before opting on a stud finder that works.

  • A built-in bubble level, which may be found on either a magnetic or an electronic stud finder, can help you level shelves or whatever else you’re mounting on the wall. Because they only record level over a relatively limited distance, small bubble levels are less precise than longer, carpenter-type levels.
  • A built-in laser (available only on electronic variants) is an upgrade from a bubble level. You may shine a laser in a straight line from the stud you’ve located, either vertically or horizontally, at the touch of a button to assist you align additional fasteners. Hanging multiple photographs or paintings on a wall at the same height is a breeze with a laser level.
  • You can go from detecting studs 3/4-inch deep behind drywall to locating any number of objects up to 1-1/2 inches beneath the surface with depth adjustment (electronic models only). The ability to see beneath extra surface coverings like wood, tile, or carpet is useful for locating floor joists, but you won’t want to use your electronic stud finder at this level all of the time. Increasing the depth adjustment consumes more energy and depletes the batteries faster. Switching back and forth and mostly using the stud-finding mode saves battery life.
  • Electronic “multipurpose” stud finders are designed to detect extra elements within the walls, such as live electrical cables and plastic pipes, so you don’t nail or cut into something dangerous.
  • A “centre punch” feature (available exclusively on electronic models) creates a small hole in the wall just over the centre of a stud, which is the best position for inserting a nail or screw—no need to mark it with a pencil.
  • Various visual displays (only available on electronic variants) allow you the option of how you want to “see” the stud. Some electronic stud finders include an LED screen that displays a digital map of the stud beneath the wall, while others have LED lights across the top that flash when the finder is passed over a stud—either way, they provide a dependable means to locate a stud.
  • When it’s time to replace the batteries, a battery indicator (only on electronic models) will let you know. While some electronic models work with AA or AAA alkaline batteries, an increasing number of them require the use of a small 9-volt battery to power several functions.
  • On both magnetic and electronic models, an ergonomic hand grip makes holding and moving the stud finder easier. Before scanning the wall for studs, some stud finders require hitting a button. When choosing one of these models, seek for a button that is in a convenient location for pressing and controlling the tool’s movement.

How To Use a Stud Finder

  • Make sure you understand whether or not your model requires calibration and how to perform it.
  • While detecting, keep your stud finder flat against the wall.
  • To avoid interference, keep your hands off the wall.
  • Unless you’re utilising a whole-stud detector, indicate your position from multiple angles to obtain the most accurate results. If you want to avoid marking directly on the paint, use a piece of painter’s tape on the wall.
  • To mark the entire length of the stud or to strike the same height across numerous studs, combine a stud finder with a cross line laser.
  • Stud finders are also useful for locating joists in the ceiling.
  • In most cases, studs are 16 inches apart (walls), although they can also be 24 inches apart (ceilings). Get a solid reading on another portion of the wall and measure over if you’re having difficulties finding one.
  • For electronic stud finders, keep an extra pair of batteries in your toolkit.
  • Detecting studs in plaster walls is a pain. On plaster and lathe, most stud finders are poor at best. Instead, use a specialised metal detector (recommendation below).

Stud Finder Prices

For ten dollars or less, you can get a basic magnetic stud finder. Thousands of happy clients will attest to their effectiveness. They do, but it isn’t precise. These models will find off-centre fasteners, metal pipes, and conduits without distinguishing between the different types of objects.

Edge-finding devices range in price from £20 to £35, and you often get basic and deep scan modes, as well as the possibility of live AC wire identification, for that price. These stud finders can be used on both wooden and metal studs.

Wide, multi-sensing variants can detect not just the edges and centre of a single stud, but also multiple studs at simultaneously, as well as odd widths. A multi-sensing stud finder can cost anywhere from £40 to £75, but if it’s something you use frequently, it’s probably worth the expense.

FAQ

Q:What is AC Detection, and how does it work?

A: AC detection (also known as AC scan or other similar names depending on the brand) is a method of locating live current-carrying cables hidden in your walls. They can be helpful as a guide, but caution is always advised. They rarely detect cables that are more than 1 1/2 inches below the surface, a distance that can be lowered further by concrete, conduit, or other obstructions. Always cut off the main

electricity before drilling through walls as a safety precaution.

Q: What are the differences between magnetic stud finders?

A: While all magnetic finders work on the same principle, which is that the magnet or magnets attract metal items in the wall, the implementations vary. There are magnetic finders with fixed magnets that do not move within the finder and models with a magnet hanging in an enclosure inside the device casing that moves freely in reaction to in-wall metal items.

Q: While some of this technology is impressive, can’t I just find studs with a big old magnet?

A: You could, but it’s a very hit-or-miss strategy. Steel nails or screws can be found with a magnet, but not the actual stud or its centre. A magnet is incapable of discrimination. Any steel object, such as a steel pipe or a long-forgotten electrical box, will be found by it.

Q: Do electronic stud finders operate on walls made of lath and plaster?

A: The range of ways to make lath and plaster is a hurdle. Even if the surface appears to be smooth, the underlying structure can be very different. This can be confusing for electric stud finders, which detect variations in wall density. To make problems worse, certain lath and plaster walls are reinforced with steel mesh, which eliminates the use of magnetic stud finders. The traditional way is to tap your knuckle against the wall until the sound changes. Unfortunately, modern solutions aren’t always better in this situation!

Q: What’s the difference between the different stud finders on the market?

A: There are two types of stud finders available nowadays. Magnetic and electric stud finders are the most common. Unlike magnetic finders, which utilise fixed or moving magnets to identify metal items, electric or electronic finders employ specific sensors to detect changes in the wall’s dielectric constant. When you sweep the sensor over a fastener or a stud, electric stud finders detect variations in dielectric constant based on this concept. Lower dielectric constant measurements in the wall indicate the presence of a stud or other metal item. Magnetic and electric technologies are used in several finder devices.

Newer technologies, such as the usage of RF radars with 3D imaging technology, are being applied in certain finders.

Q: What’s the difference between the electric and magnetic finders?

A: There are three types of electric stud finders: edge finders, centre finders, and quick finders. Edge finders are the simplest internal capacitor detectors, detecting the edges of a stud or other materials. To detect the stud centre, centre stud finders typically employ two sensors to capture different measurements of the wall’s dielectric constant. Instant stud finders are the most cutting-edge equipment, with many sensor plates and sophisticated algorithms for analysing sensor readings, eliminating the need for the operator to sweep them across the wall.

Q: Do I need any particular abilities in order to use a stud finder?

A: No, you don’t need any specific expertise to use a stud finder. Due to its basic basis and limited range of operation, employing magnetic models may demand more effort in establishing the position of in-wall items.

Q: What objects can I locate using a stud finder?

A: As previously stated, a stud finder’s principal job is to identify studs, fasteners, and metalware in the wall. Despite the fact that magnetic stud finders are intended to locate such things, electric finders may be able to detect a larger range of objects. Electric finders may locate wood beams and buildings as well as active AC wires in the wall, depending on the type of sensors employed.

About Mat

A complete novice trying to navigate in the world of DIY. I bought my first home about 2 years ago & ever since I've been trying to research & learn how best to tackle common household problems.

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