Whenever you want to hang something on a wall with a screw or nail, there is always a chance that the object is going to be little heavy like a picture frame or shelf system. The weight of these objects can be more than the fastener was made to handle. Eventually, the wall will give up and the project will be lying on the floor. The only way to avoid such mishaps is to find a solid and safe attachment point such as a wall stud.
But finding a wall stud can be a cumbersome work, it is complicated and hard to determine the exact location of the metal or Wood stud behind the tiles, drywall or any other surfaces. Surely you can keep on guessing and guess for eternity, and maybe if you are lucky, you might as well find the stud. But that will be very frustrating and tiring. Eventually, you will end up with a lot of wasted time along with some couple of holes that needs to be patched, filled and painted. But fortunately to spare you from all that hassle, we have stud finders.
Stud finder aka stud sensor or stud detector is a small handheld device that is used to detect framing studs that are situated behind the walling surface such as dry walls, plasters or other surfaces. They are very handy for different types of DIY jobs and one can carry it easily around the house. So, how to find the best stud finder? Where to buy from? What are its features? This Best Stud finder guide will help you learn everything you need to know.
When attaching or hanging anything on the wall, it is very important to keep in mind that the nail or screw is fastened into a framing member or a stud. Detecting a stud is a tiring job without using the right equipment. And as stud finders are available in different types, it important to know each of them. Which stud finder is good for what purpose should be known beforehand. While buying a stud finder, there are some features to look out for, but the final decision completely depends on your type of DIY work.
How to choose a right stud finder:
There are mainly two types of stud finders:
Magnetic stud finders sense the location of nails or screws holding the surface to the stud. When you find these metal fasteners, you’ll get to know the approximate location of studs behind the wall. For finding the stud, you need to slide the magnet slowly on the wall until you feel the slight magnetic pull of the screw or nail. Once you find the nail, these stud finders will make a sound of “click” or their rotating magnet will point towards the fastener.
The only drawback of this type of stud finders is that they cannot detect a screw or nail that is deeply located beneath the wall. This results in wastage of time during project installation. Also, it is important to note that the magnetic stud finders can only detect the location of metal fasteners. They cannot detect wood studs and door framing.
The second type is the electronic stud finder. They are far more efficient and advanced than the magnetic stud finders. For finding the wall studs and other metal fasteners above or beneath the wall, these stud finders make use of modern electronic sensors. The electronic stud finders require batteries for their working. They provide an audible or visual alarm upon finding the stud.
Further, Magnetic stud detectors have two different types
- Stationary magnetic locators:
Stationary magnet stud locators have a small stationary magnet inside them for locating screws or nails placed in studs during doing the walling material.
In order to detect the stud, the user is required to move the magnet back and forth on the wall until he doesn’t feel a strong pull of magnetic attraction, while still continuing to move in the direction of attraction.
As stationary magnet stud locators highly depend on the user for feeling the attraction, it can be sometimes erratic especially if the metal fasteners like nails or screws are situated more deeply beneath the wall, thus, decreasing the overall magnetic attraction.
The biggest drawback of a stationary magnet comes into picture when the fasteners are situated very deep inside a thick wall like concrete or plaster wall. This thickness considerably lowers the effectiveness of stationary magnets.
- Moving magnet stud locators:
Moving magnet stud locators have a little complex working that consists of a small but powerful neodymium magnet.
This neodymium magnet is suspended in a closed enclosure wherein it is free to move in the direction of metallic pull. The moving magnet stud locator can work on a wide range of constructed surfaces. This becomes possible because of the easy movement and strength of the neodymium.
The moving magnet is initially suspended in such a unique way that it is always stable on its resting place until it detects the metal studs or metal fasteners.
On the surfaces that have shallow placed nails or screws, it’s magnet moves with a great velocity towards the wall, such that it actually makes a unique sound of “thud” when it touches the wall.
Nails or screws that are buried deeply under the surfaces such as in tile or plasters can be easily detected by this type of stud finder since its moving magnet is independent of the user to feel the magnetic pull off metal.
But the “thud” sound is little softer in deeper fasteners as the velocity of movement is little slower.
Internal Capacitor or electronic stud detector:
This is the second major type of stud detector that works by making use of a plate that can sense the changes in the electromagnetic composition of the surface.
The varied density indicates that the framing stud has been detected. Electronic Stud Finder is the most common type of stud detector used by the users and furthermore, it comes in 3 different types. These 3 three sub-types are edge finder, center finder, and instant stud finder.
- Edge finders – Edge finders are the most basic electronic stud detectors. They consist of internal capacitors. Edge detectors find the edges of a metal stud or other materials beneath the surface. In order to work with this type of stud finders, you must first calibrate it on an empty portion of the surface, and then it can be slid back and forth on the surface until it detects a density change, such as at the edge of any studs.
For drilling the hole accurately at the center of the edges, you must first find both the edges of the stud and for finding both the edges, you need to move the edge finder from both the directions on the surface. Some of the Edge finders having single sensor are error prone. They indicate the location an inch or two from the edge of studs. Once the edges of the stud are determined, the user must mark the center spot of the stud.
- Center finders – Center finders work more efficiently than the edge finders but that doesn’t mean you should forget the edge finders. The major performance of the stud finders depends on upon the manufacturer’s quality and not the technique. Well, coming back to the working of center stud detectors, the center detector detects the center of the stud with the help of using two separate sensors. These separate sensors register two different readings of the di-electric constant of the wall.
Once these two readings are matched, the center stud detector indicates that it is placed in the center of a stud. For determining the target center, several readings are taken into consideration. Unlike the edge finders that require being moved from both the direction on the surface, center stud finders require being moved from only one direction.
For proper working, Center stud finders also require calibration on an empty surface of the wall. If the calibration readings are not proper such as in a case of bumpy movement due to wall texturing, then the overall preciseness of the stud finder takes the toll.
- Instant Stud Finders or Scan Tools – This type of stud finders are the most advanced and accurate stud scanners. They can locate the metal or wood studs in concrete and dry walls consisting steel and copper pipes along with live wires. This type of stud scanner does not have the requirement to move them across the wall like other types of stud finders. They need to be simply placed on the wall.
Their multiple sensors detect the exact place of studs along with their thickness and the location of their center. Instant stud finders can also help us find the stud fewer areas just to avoid the support beam, in cases like installation of dryer vents or other electrical outlets.
How do stud finders work?
Well, the working is actually quite simple. Wood or other such materials are poor conductors of electricity. The poor conductors of electric current are also known as insulators. These types of insulators are excellent in supporting the electrostatic field. The electrostatic field produces an electrical or static energy which is then detected by the stud finders with the help of capacitor plate.
The detection of changes of electrostatic field gives the density difference between the dense wood (the stud) and dry wall. This, along with the clever circuitry of the scanner allows the stud finders to find the edge of the stud and the center of the stud with greater accuracy.
In the more advanced stud finders, the circuitry is so complex, that with a combination of a couple of different scanning methods, it can even detect the type of material depending on its density.
The more costly stud finders can locate the hidden electrical wires, metal pipes and nails/screws and can even scan 3-4 inch deep. This kind of advanced stud finders is called as a multi-purpose or multi-scanner stud finders.
They are not just used for finding the studs in the wall, but can also be used for finding the beams in the floor, ceiling, locating metal beneath the wall and other surfaces or even for locating metal fasteners beneath the tiles.
These stud finders as mentioned earlier, use a mixed working of density sensors, small scale radar, magnets and metal detecting hardware.
A combined use of all these scanning techniques allows the advanced stud finders to provide an accurate picture of what’s hidden beneath the wall or other such surfaces.
Also, while purchasing the right stud finders, the cost should be taken into consideration. You don’t want your DIY project to cost more than hiring a professional. The cost of stud finder changes depending upon the complexity of the machine, condition, and brand. A careful evaluation of your needs along with a proper research of price range and different available options should be done.
The brand of the product also plays an important role in buying quality stud finders. Some of the major brands are Zircon, Stanley, and Bosch. But again, the final decision depends on your personal needs and budget.
Another aspect to consider is to understand your purpose. Whether you want a basic metal stud finder or you want an advanced electronic Wood stud finders, whether you just want to locate the stud or you want any extra information about the center or its depth, it all solely depends on you.
Following are the best stud finders, check it out.
1.Prosensor 710 Precision Stud Finder
The Prosensor 710 has an advanced Multi-sense technology that can scan the wall at multiple locations simultaneously.
It comes with nice bright LED lights that glow whenever a hidden object or stud is detected.
This stud finder can identify the width of the hidden metal or objects.
It can find the locations of multiple studs simultaneously.
It has a deep scanning technique which is always active (up to 1.5 inches)
It is an ingenious product and it is rated with 4.6/5 stars on Amazon.
The light up display design is simple to use and understand.
Prosensor 710 Precision Stud Finder is accurate, fast and less error prone.
The 13 sensors work simultaneously to find the exact locations of studs.
The activation button is a little bit in an awkward position.
Starting with the basic specifications, the dimensions of Prosensor 710 are 2.3 inches X 6 inches X 12.25 inches. This amazing stud finder can detect the metal or Wood locations beneath the walls up to 1.5 inches deep. For locating any object below the surface, you just need to slightly Slide the Prosensor 710 across the wall. You can start locating the studs from any part of the wall. It can work even just by placing it on the surface.
The most common problem with many of the stud detectors in the market is that they usually do not help us find the accurate location, thus, making us drill multiple holes at wrong places. The Prosensor 710 Precision Stud Finder provides us the accurate and the exact locations that are reliable so that you need to drill just a single hole giving you the best results along with saving time.
This stud finder has total 13 sensors that work simultaneously and thus, help in quickly finding the studs beneath the surface. The manufacturer of this product claims that this stud finder is faster at finding the hidden objects or studs, more accurate and less error prone as compared to the other products with similar specifications.
As mentioned earlier, the Prosensor 710 has a small display lights that alert you whenever it detects the obstacle or studs behind the wall. This can be a new refreshing thing for those who are used to the traditional beeping of a stud finder. The Prosensor 710 Precision Stud Finder is a precise and cool gadget and it is worth to own it.
2.Zircon StudSensor E50 Electronic Stud Finder
- This electronic stud finder can detect the edges of metal or wood studs up to 19 mm (3/4 inch) deep.
- The Zircon E50 comes with a deepScan mode feature. This allows it to double the detecting depth to 1-1/2 Inch.
- To avoid the interference with wires, this stud finder has a wire detector that warns about the location of live wires within 2 Inch.
- For easy readings, the Zircon StudSensor E50 Electronic Stud Finder comes with an LCD display. Whenever an edge is detected, it flashes on the display.
- The Zircon E50 stud detector comes with a new patented “over the stud” technology that notifies the user to begin the scanning in a new position whenever the scan starts over the stud.
- For marking the target and making work easy, it has an updated spotlight pointer that flashes an arrow-shaped mark on the wall.
- Its patented Trucal technology makes us aware whenever the tool is properly calibrated and ready to use.
- The Zircon E50 is very easy and compact to use.
- It comes loaded with a lot of advanced features.
- It has a nice ergonomic design for proper handling.
- It can be used on a lot of different types of Materials.
- It is little costly.
- A huge number of features can sometimes confuse the user.
Zircon is a famous brand and it is one of the top manufacturers of an electronic stud finder. Zircon StudSensor E50 is made of high quality and it can easily detect the edges of metal studs and Wood. This stud detector can detect the studs that are 3/4 Inch deep below the surface and further, if you want to increase the depth, you can switch it to its deep scan mode which doubles the detecting depth to 1.5 inches.
Also, just so that you don’t mess up with any live wires, this stud finder comes with a live wire detection technique that warns you about the presence of any wires located 2 inches below. The stud finder E50 comes with a lot of unique features along with its new reliable body design that helps in finishing the project easily and quickly.
The quality and build are exceptional letting any amateur or the professional user can get used to it. It has the latest patent pending contoured shape and pinches grip that provides a secure and easy hold for both hands at any arbitrary angle. One cannot go wrong with the Zircon products. It is surely going to deliver you a precise performance.
3.ProSensor 710+ Professional Stud Finder with Built-in Bubble Level and Ruler
- This stud finder has 13 high-quality sensors for delivering perfect accuracy on every reading.
- It is extremely easy to use with its one step operation. By just placing it on walls, it instantly finds studs.
- For providing the highest accuracy, its triple accuracy tech, checks and calculates the data from all sensors.
- It is a 2 in 1 tool with its built in Bubble Level.
- It doesn’t require the typical “sliding on the wall”.
- Works equally great on both wood and metal surfaces.
- Has an exceptional accuracy.
- It has a deep sensing technology that provides it with more sensor pad portion, thus, resulting in deeper scans.
- It is little expensive.
The ProSensor 710+ Professional Stud Finder makes use of Franklin’s latest stud finding sensors and technology. For making your every single DIY work easy, this stud finder comes with a built-in ruler and bubble level. Detecting studs is a piece of cake for ProSensor 710+. Unlike other stud detectors, this stud detector doesn’t require any sliding.
It analyzes information from all its 13 sensors simultaneously and instantly flashes led lights if it detects any studs.It is more accurate and reliable than other stud finders in the market.If you aren’t a fan of Magnetic Stud finders, then this is the electronic stud finder you should opt for.
4.Black & Decker SF100 Wood Stud Finder
- Black & Decker stud sensor can locate the studs up to 3/4 Inch thick.
- For providing accurate stud location, it comes with LED indicators.
- SF100 comes with 2AA batteries.
- It has visual and audio indicators for working in less visibility and noisy environment.
- It is an edge to edge stud detector for precise mounting.
- The design is compact and it is easy to hold and use.
- Understanding the operation instructions can be confusing.
The Black & Decker SF100 Wood Stud Finder is very simple yet effective stud detector and is a “must have” for any beginner or professional user. Starting with the basic specifications, the dimensions of the SF100 are 4.1 inches x 1.8 inches x 9.4 inches. This stud finder is incredibly precise and accurate. Even though it weighs a little more than another stud finder in the same category, it can detect studs up to 0.75 Inch thick.
The LED lights work very well and light up precisely on detection of studs. Black & Decker Stud Sensor totally eliminates the guessing work in detection of metal studs for hanging photo frames, run chair railing, installing closet shelves and much more. It doesn’t matter whether you are a do it yourself a user, a pro or a decorator, this amazing stud finder will help you get your job done quicker and with ease.
This stud detector comes with both visual and audible indicators that work whenever an edge of a stud is detected. All in all, this is a great stud finder and it definitely deserves a place in your tool box.
5.Zircon StudSensor HD800 Stud Finder
- It comes with a stud detect mode that detects the center and edges of metal or wood studs up to 19 mm (3/4 inch) deep.
- Its deepScan mode enables it to double the detecting depth up to 38 mm (1-1/2 inch).
- It can detect non-ferrous metal like copper pipes up to 38 mm (1-1/2 inch) deep.
- For avoiding any mess with live wires, it has a wire warning detection that can detect unshielded AC wires up to 2 Inch.
- The StudSensor HD800 comes with a new auto-correction technology that reduces the common user errors.
- The Zircon StudSensor HD800 Stud Finder is very easy and compact to use.
- It comes loaded with a lot of advanced features.
- It has a nice ergonomic design for proper handling.
- It can be used on a lot of different types of Materials.
- Detecting objects beneath some surfaces can be hard.
The Zircon StudSensor HD800 can easily locate the center and edges of metal and woods studs, joint beneath the floors, ceilings, and walls. It can also detect the metals up to 76 mm deep. Its display screen is easy to read and has a 3 mode function. Whenever a stud is detected, its audio alerts and spotlight pointer indicates the place of the target. For differentiating between the deep and shallow targets, it has a signal strength indicator.
6.Precision Sensors Stud Finder Professional Deep Scanning LED Profinder 5000
- The Profinder 5000 can instantly locate metal, wood or other hidden materials.
- It comes with the easy to use one step operation feature.
- It can detect the studs with or without the need of sliding it across the surface.
- For greater accuracy, it comes with a large sensor pad area as compared to other stud sensors.
- The Profinder 5000 has an advanced electronic circuitry that can detect multiple parts of the surface simultaneously.
- The Profinder 5000 is a hassle free stud detector.
- Incredibly useful to find out what’s beneath the surface and how wide it is.
- It has excellent user ratings.
- It is little heavy and takes a bit more place in the tool box.
The Profinder 5000 is a perfect gadget for the Do it yourself user who has plenty of home projects to do. The Profinder 5000 has an innovative design for ease of use. This intelligent design also makes sure that the wall remains scratch free and clean. With the advanced technology of this stud finder, your work will become less error prone.
It has a good amount of sensor pad area and it even works without placing it on the wall. While the other stud detectors show you where the nails or screws in a stud are, this electronic stud detector will show you the exact edges of the stud so that you drill in its center, thus, avoiding the misaligned holes. The Profinder 500