The 5 Best Stud Finders You Can Buy in 2020

5 Best Stud Finders for Your DIY Projects & Home Repair

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If you have ever found yourself hesitant to hammer a nail in the wall, hang wall art, or have cabinets sitting on the floor, chances are you don’t own a stud finder. These inexpensive tools alert you to where studs, and sometimes other in-wall wiring and framing, are located.

They take the guesswork out of where to place a hole, and what to avoid, and provides you peace of mind in your planning. Those new to DIY home repair and decorating may not even know these handy tools exist, but this article will showcase some of the best stud finders for your DIY projects.

PRODUCT FEATURES
CH Hanson Stud 4 Sure Magnetic Stud Finder - 5 Best Stud Finders for Your DIY Projects & Home RepairCH Hanson Stud 4 Sure Magnetic Stud Finder
  • Type: Magnetic
  • Scan Depth: 1 inch
  • Features: hand free, bubble level
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Tacklife 4-in-1 Center Finding Electronic Stud Finder - 5 Best Stud Finders for Your DIY Projects & Home RepairTacklife 4-in-1 Center Finding Electronic Stud Finder
  • Type: Electronic
  • Scan Depth: up to 1.5 inches for wood, 4 for metal
  • Features: 4 material indicator, large screen, auto turn-off, auto-calibration
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BLACK+DECKER Line Laser, Auto-leveling with Stud Sensor (BDL190S) - 5 Best Stud Finders for Your DIY Projects & Home RepairBLACK+DECKER Line Laser, Auto-leveling with Stud Sensor (BDL190S)
  • Type: Electronic
  • Scan Depth: 1.5 inches for wood, 4 inches for metal
  • Features: auto-level and laser, 4 material indicators, easy to read screen
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Studpop Magnetic Stud Finder - 5 Best Stud Finders for Your DIY Projects & Home RepairStudpop Magnetic Stud Finder
  • Type: Magnetic
  • Scan Depth: 0.5 inches to stick, but will locate deeper
  • Features: Clicks into place, hands-free
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Zircon StudSensor e50 Electronic Wall Scanner - 5 Best Stud Finders for Your DIY Projects & Home RepairZircon StudSensor e50 Electronic Wall Scanner
  • Type: Electronic
  • Scan Depth: 1.5 inches for studs, 2 inches for wires
  • Features: audio and light indicator, arrow light
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What a Stud Finder Does

A stud finder, also called a stud detector or sensor, is a handheld device you can use to locate the wooden framing studs in buildings. These work by either sensing metal nails, or the density differences behind the wall you are testing via a magnet, or battery-operated electromagnet respectively. It then sends the information back to the finder to alert you of location.

Some also include ways to find metal, wires, and pipes to help you avoid and mishaps when driving a nail or screw through drywall.

Why You Need a Stud Finder

As mentioned above, a stud detector can help you avoid an unfortunate accident when hanging things on your wall, planning on building in bookcases, or running new wires. But they are more commonly used to detect strong framing studs to use as an anchor to secure things to the wall.

Studs make up the skeleton of your home, and are durable, long lasting beams of wood that are located throughout your walls. They run vertically, and serve as excellent tie ins for hanging heavy products, such as televisions, shelving, and cupboards from your walls. Using them negates the use of a drywall anchor, and provides a much more dependable solution for all your hanging needs.

If you enjoy DIY projects, and prefer to take care of your own home maintenance, a stud sensor is a must have tool.

Types of Stud Finders

There are actually only two main types of stud finders, both of which may include various styles and features to help make your job even easier. These include magnetic stud finders, the first type ever invented; and electronic finders, which generally include various features from which to choose.

Magnetic Stud Finders

Magnetic finders use a strong magnet to locate the nails and screws used to support the structure. As you near the metal, they will pull towards it and either stick, or weaken in its pull as you move past. These are easy to use, but take a little practice to get used to. They are highly accurate, however, and are useful in other situations. They also don’t require batteries. There are some downfalls and are limited in data, however, and have no automatic functions.

Electronic Stud Finders

These are often the most popular product for DIY enthusiasts as an electromagnetic signal provides accurate readings on an easy to read screen. You can easily mark where the stud is located, and also sometimes search for other objects you may want to avoid behind a wall.

Both types have some variances in design, allowing you to choose from stationary or moving magnetic finders; or electronic edge, center, or whole finders. Electronic styles may also provide features such as automatic turn-off, depth detention, two-way levels, hands free use, and an LED display.

Proper Stud Finder Use Q & A

If you are wondering how to use a stud finder, look no further. This is a simple tool that takes the guesswork out of your project, allowing you to move forward faster and more accurately. Most magnetic finders are self explanatory and simply require you to move them slowly across the wall until it is attracted to the metal in the stud.

potted plants on shelves white brick wall and wood

Electronic finders work the same way, and require you to begin moving it across the wall slowly after tuning on. You need to move in a consistent manner and keep the bottom surface flat against your wall. Depending on the model, they may react in different ways, but all provide an audio warning signal and may provide a light to show the edge, or center, of the stud they are reading.

What does it mean when a stud finder beeps?

When the stud finder beeps it means it has detected the edge or center of the stud. Mark it to help you determine the width and location.

Why do stud finders not work?

They do run from battery power and the biggest problem is a weak, or dead, battery. Too fasta a movement will also make them work inaccurately, or lifting part of the flat bottom off the wall can give inaccurate readings as well.

What to do when you can’t find a stud?

You may not have moved the detector far enough. They are located at various intervals along the wall. Also check battery strength and be sure to be moving in a consistent, slow manner.

How accurate is a stud finder?

They are very accurate as long as you mark, with accuracy, the readings they are providing. If in doubt, lower or raise the detector from where you got your last reading. You should get a hit in the exact same area from floor to ceiling.

How far apart are studs?

In order for home framing to be up to code, studs must be either 16 or 24 inches apart. If you don’t find one 16 inches from the edge of a wall, you will at 24 inches.

Top 5 Best Stud Finders to Consider

The following stud detectors are popular with both professional contractors and home DIYers alike. Many prefer to keep both a magnetic and electronic on hand for quick jobs, and the following suggestions provide some of the best in both styles.

Best Magnetic & Level Stud Finder Combo

This compact, yet powerful tool provides a dependable, hands-free magnet to detect nails and screws in the stud, as well as a level bubble to ensure you mark a straight line across the stud when you need the entire width. It has a soft grip exterior, and a scan depth of one inch, which is plenty for drywall use.

It is guaranteed not to give any false positives and actually sticks to the screw or nail it finds. This allows you to find the center of the stud to secure your project in the best place possible.

When you have a quick job to do, and are not interested in checking for battery life and simply need a stud center location, this is a great option.

CH Hanson Stud 4 Sure Magnetic Stud Finder
    The Stud 4 Sure is a stud finder that uses powerful rare earth magnets to pinpoint the exact location of screws or nails in a stud. The tool doesn’t require batteries and never needs calibration. By keeping the tool free of moving or electronic parts, the Stud 4 Sure is easy to use and fits easily into any tool pouch.

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Best 4-in-1 Center Stud Finder

This 4 in 1 model can not only find studs up to 1.5 inches deep, it also can locate ferrous and non-ferrous metal, as well as live wires. The large LCD screen provides modes, depths, and indications combined with light and sound. It also automatically calibrates to avoid having to press a button.

Able to find both edge and center of stud, this is a comfortable tool to hold either horizontally or vertically to meet your needs. It also has an automatic turnoff, and can be used in extreme cold and heat temperatures.

If you plan on doing anything more advanced or involved than hanging pictures, this is a great tool to give you a visual of what is behind your walls.

Tacklife 4-in-1 Center Finding Electronic Stud Finder
    The tool is used to detect metals (ferrous and non-ferrous metals), wood studs, and live AC wires in walls, ceilings and floors.

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Best Professional-Grade Stud Finder

When planning on doing any sort of remodeling yourself, this is the must have tool for you. It takes the guesswork out of what is behind your wall, and provides the perfect laser level for shelving, cabinets, built-in remodels, wall mounts, pictures, or anything else you need to look perfect.

The hands free design allows you to level it (it also has a self-leveling sensor), send out a leveling laser, and can detect metal, wood, and live wires.

You’ll be able to hang a wall of art or make home repairs and improvements easier and better than ever with this pro stud finder in your toolbox.

BLACK+DECKER Line Laser, Auto-leveling with Stud Sensor (BDL190S)
    an ideal tool for hanging pictures, detecting wood and metal studs, locating live A/C wires, and installing decorative items. With patented auto-leveling technology, this leveler is actually two tools in one--an auto-leveling laser level and a stud sensor.

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Best Magnetic Budget Stud Finder

Accurate and easy to use, this is a great backup device for all electronic finders, and also serves to double check your accuracy in just seconds. The strong magnet pulls to the nail or screw in stud and then the indicator ‘clicks’ into place once it locks on. It also will stay on the wall, hands-free, once located to allow you to use both hands for marking, measuring, or adhering products into place.

It works with all types of construction, unlike some electronic versions, including plaster, lathe, sheet rock, and metal studs.

This option is best for a quick location of the stud center, or a quick double-check of calibration for electronic finders. Awesome as a standalone or backup.

Studpop Magnetic Stud Finder
    You just want a fast way to find the studs behind your walls or ceiling without all the fuss. Is that too much to ask? Not anymore. Finally, a stud finder that actually works! It's not rocket science. It's a StudPoP

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Best Electronic Budget Stud Finder

If all you need is a simple edge indicator so you know where studs are located, and aren’t interested in much more, this is a perfect choice. The Zircon StudSensor is widely popular with DIY enthusiasts as it is accurate and quick to use for all sorts of home repair and improvement. It also can alert you to live AC wires.

Once it detects the stud edge, it alerts you and lights up, and also points and arrow shaped light along the edge for you to mark. It can detect both wood and metal studs up to 1.5 inches deep, and wires up to 2 inches.

If you don’t want to drop a lot of money but want a long lasting, dependable option, this is a great one to consider.

Zircon StudSensor e50 Electronic Wall Scanner
    The SS A100 is a handheld tool dedicated to quickly and efficiently find the edges of studs and alert you of live AC wiring. The A100 comes equipped with 2 scanning modes: StudScan and DeepScan.

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Conclusion

When comparing options, regardless of price point, it’s important that tools do the job they’re designed for, are durable and useful, and can be relied upon to keep you safe while you work. For these reasons, our recommended choice is the Black+Decker Line Laser. There are many variations of these stud locators out there, but these models sum up the basics of the design and what sort of products are offered. These are all great options that are considered accurate and dependable. Of course, patience, and checking for accuracy and proper use are always important.

If you have any questions, please let us know below, and as always, please share!

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