Stud finders are little devices used to locate the beam of wood, metal, wiring running through drywall, so you can find something strong to screw things too.
They’re incredibly useful and you can find a HUGE range of them online.
They are normally handheld devices, which are used to sense where the material behind the device is denser.
The wooden beam is, of course, denser than the weak plasterboard, and this is what stud finders pick up. they often emit a beeping noise, or an LED will flash when they sense a stud is behind the device.
This alerts you to the location of the beam so you can make a note with a pencil or a knife and start using the stud.
They use changes in density to find a stud:
How do stud finders work? Well, it’s actually fairly simple.
Materials like wood are very POOR electrical conductors, they are in fact ‘insulators’ meaning they don’t conduct electricity at all.
What they are good at, is supporting what’s called an ‘Electrostatic field’.
This is a type of electrical/static energy that the stud finder detects with a ‘Capacitor plate’.
This detects changes in an electrostatic field, in this instance, the difference in density between plasterboard and a thicker and more dense wood (The stud).
This and a clever circuit board in the scanner allow it to detect with some accuracy where the edge of the stud is, it’s where to density suddenly changes.
Advanced stud finders:
Some electronic stud finders can even detect the type of material based on how dense it is and using a combination of different scanning techniques some of the more expensive stud finders can detect hidden metal pipes, electrical wires, and screws/nails, etc. Some can even scan up to 3-4 inches deep.
These more advanced types of stud finders are called ‘multi scanners’ or multi-purpose stud finders.
They can be used for more than just finding studs on drywall, for example, finding the beams in the ceiling, floor, locating metal behind walls or other surfaces, even locating metal/screws behind tiles.
They use a combination of small scale radar, metal detecting hardware, density sensors, and magnets. A combination of these scanning methods allows the more advanced models to give an accurate image of what’s behind and embedded within a wall.
Tips and tricks for using stud finders:
There are some simple tricks you can use to save yourself some time when using stud finders.
- Firstly, make sure you charge all the batteries before you start your day. The last thing you want is having to wait for a stud finder to charge up before you can start work.
- Studs (wooden beams) are usually directly outlining a window or a door, this is to provide support and make the structure more secure. Start by looking there!
- Make sure if you suspect electrical wiring underneath the drywall to use a stud finder that can SENSE wiring! This could save you from getting electrocuted.
- Be patient: Finding a stud might take a bit of time but it shouldn’t take you more than about 10-15 minutes with a good stud finder, and there are plenty to choose from!
BEST STUD FINDERS:
We’ve collected a list of the best stud finders ever, but you could also just save yourself some time and learn more about the most powerful stud finder for DIY builders and contractors.