How to locate wall studs

How to find studs in your walls

Anchoring pictures and heavy objects to the studs in your walls is the safest practice. Locating the studs is not that difficult and there are a few ways that you can do this.


Step 1

The most reliable method for locating studs is by using an electronic stud finder. You can purchase a fairly inexpensive one at most hardware stores. Follow the directions that apply to the stud sensor you are using. By moving the sensor along the wall you will receive an indication of where your studs are.

Mark the location of the first stud you find very lightly in pencil. Also mark both edges, studs will be 1 and 1/2 inches across. If you move the sensor slowly enough you should see where the stud starts and stops.

Electrical outlets are attached to the left or right side of studs. You can begin your search by starting in a location just above an outlet.

Step 2

Studs in most homes are located 16 to 24 inches apart, on center, meaning the middle of the stud. Measure 16 inches from the center of your first stud and check with your sensor to see if there is a stud at that location.

Take a long, very thin, nail and tap it into your wall where you think the stud is located. If you contact wood you have found your stud. Do use caution when using nails or drills to avoid any electrical wires or plumbing in your walls.

Step 3

Method number two:

You can tap along your wall with your fist or any object that will not damage your wall. You should be able to hear the difference when tapping a stud location and tapping on a hollow area.

Use the same steps listed for the stud sensor to mark your first stud location and find the rest of the studs along the wall.

Step 4

Method number three:

You can also use a very strong magnet if you have one available. Wrap the magnet in a light cloth to prevent wall damage and run it along your wall. The magnet should cling to any nails that are hidden in your wall indicating a possible stud location. You will need to work in both a horizontal and vertical direction and this method can be time consuming.

Step 5

Method number four:

If none of the other methods work you can simply tap nails into your wall along a horizontal line, one inch apart, until your locate your first stud. Then use your measuring tape to locate your next stud. Tap a nail in 16 inches from your first stud and determine if there is a stud there. If there is not try again at 24 inches from your first stud. This method is not the best approach as you can have many nail holes before you find your first stud. Remember to use the thinnest nail possible and be cautious in areas that may contain electrical wires.

Things Needed
• Electronic stud sensor
• Measuring tape
• Pencil
• Thin long nail
• Hammer

Tips & Warnings
• In most homes studs are located every 16 to 24 inches on center.
• Use caution when hammering nails or drilling to avoid electrical wires.
• Electrical outlets are located on the left or right side of studs. You can use the location of an outlet to start your stud search.


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