There are lots of options for stud finders on the market right now (this is probably the best one at the moment), but they range in price from a couple of dollars right up to over $300 or more!
That’s why there are MAGNETIC stud finders! They’re much cheaper, and although they don’t measure the location of the stud as accurately, or as quickly, they’re a cheap option for people on a budget.
Maybe you only need to do one job with a stud finder, and it’s not worth buying an expensive scanner.. they do more or less the same thing, just in a different way.. Let’s explore how magnetic stud detectors work and what they’re good for..
How do magnetic stud finders work?
A magnetic stud finder is basically a magnet which hinges, or can swing freely on a small point. It is usually encased in plastic or glass and moved across the wall slowly.
What you’re looking for as you move it across the wall, is the magnet to move. This indicated that there is a metal nail or screw underneath it. You can make your own magnetic stud finder by using a magnet and a bit of string.
While this won’t tell you the edge of the stud, it will be a pretty good indication as to where the stud is, because normally people only screw or nail into the wooden beams. Wherever you find the nails and screws, is usually where the stud is. It’s just a cheaper and less detailed way of finding it, to locate the screws using a magnet. It’s a very basic system for finding the studs, but it works.
Magnetic Stud Finders VS Electronic Stud Finders?
Here is a little comparison between Magnetic and Electric stud finders. They both have pros and cons, but in our opinion, it’s best to have one of each, just so you’re covered, especially if you actually work in the industry and use them regularly.
Magnetic Stud finder – PROS
- They’re cheap. They are almost no money at all, maybe £2-3. Much cheaper than their Electronic alternatives.
- They are smaller. Easier to hide away in a pocket, toolbox or builders pouch, and they’re lighter as well.
- They’re really easy to use, and don’t need batteries.
- They’re fine for stud detection about half an inch-1 inch deep.
Electronic Stud Finder PROS
- They’re very accurate. They can measure the edge of studs to within a few millimetres.
- They can scan up to 3 inches deep. Deep scanning gives a better view of what’s behind the wall.
- They can detect pipes, wires and more. Essential if you’re drilling, you don’t want to hit a gas pipe or a wire.
Magnetic Stud Finder CONS
- They can only scan stud walls up to 1 inch deep. If you’re doing a more serious job you’ll need more.
- It takes longer. Because you have to slowly move the magnet and work out for yourself where the stud is.
- They can be misleading. If the previous builder didn’t screw centrally to the stud you will get a bad reading.
- They don’t work on thicker walls. Thicker plasterboard makes them almost useless.
Electronic Stud Finder CONS
- They’re sometimes expensive. Although, you get quality when you pay more.
- They could run out of batteries. Although this isn’t really an issue, replacements can be purchased.
- Sometimes, they’re difficult to use. The more complicated multi scanners may need a bit of practice to use.
- They don’t always fit into small spaces. This could be a problem if the space you’re working with is cramped.
So Who Wins The Electric VS Magnetic Comparison?
Well, the truth is they both do. If you want to get serious about your DIY or your building business, you’ll make sure to get one of each, just so you’re covered in case you encounter problems. You could run into a wall which is hard to get to, and so a magnetic stud finder would be the best option..
Also, you might need to scan deep into the wall to detect pipes and scan for electrical wires, in which case a zircon Multiscanner would be perfect for the job. To be safe, make sure to have both a Magnetic Stud Finder, and an Electronic Stud Finder.
- CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder: If you’re interested in a magnetic stud finder as an alternative to an electric one, this is the one to go for. It’s equipped with a comfortable grip and contains powerful magnets that locate the screws in stud walls.
- Or you could use a normal stud finder: This one can actually detect electrical wiring underneath the stud wall, potentially SAVING you from a fatal electric shock! Well worth the extra money in our opinion!