Aside from the jokes about the stud finder always pointing at me, the question remains: Do stud finders work? Actually, yes, they do… kind of. Here's the thing – even the best stud finders need to know how they operate. The key is getting one that can do what you specifically need it to do.
Table of contents
- Investigate reputable stud finder brands
- Look for Live Circuits Behind Walls
- put beads on your earrings
- An easier stud finder
- Highly Advanced Wall Scanner
- So yes, stud finders do work
Investigate reputable stud finder brands
You also want to keep using well-known brands like Zircon, Franklin Sensors, Bosch, etc. Know your tools, know your application, and you'll have a great chance of success. Even with a well-known brand like DeWalt, it often feels (to us) that they're just putting their name on a generic stud finder. These tools usually still work fine. They just don't offer advanced features or anything beyond the standard. One of our favorite premium stud finders is the Zircon MetalliScanner MT6.
Our experience has shown that most battery powered types work well to some degree. Some of this is a "you get what you pay for" feature, as many low-cost stud finders don't have the penetration to accurately cut through wall material to find studs. There's also the problem of not having sensors to find things that matter to you — like wires, metal studs, or metal conduits.
Look for Live Circuits Behind Walls
We've found that owners of cinder block homes (in particular) do benefit from a stud finder that can indicate if there are hidden electrical wires within the walls. Most magnet-style stud finders don't work effectively because they rely on locating the fasteners (screws) that hold the drywall in place. These can be hard to find.
Also, if your wires run down the middle of a section of gutter strap, a magnetic stud finder won't necessarily help you. Put a drill in the middle of a live Romex and you won't forget the experience…or the hassle!
put beads on your earrings
Another really cool product is the Franklin ProSensor 710 Stud Finder, which can locate multiple studs at once and uses an LED array to indicate the location of wood or steel studs behind drywall. Too bad we can't get them to design a cheap model for finding underground wiring!
This stud finder gets rave reviews for its sheer convenience. Setting your nail or screw marks is much easier when you can see the entire width of a stud (or two or three). They also have the Franklin T6 which is a truncated version with fewer LEDs.
An easier stud finder
At the other end of the scale, simplicity often reigns supreme. Such is the case with the StudPop Magnetic Stud Finder. These little beauties just need to find the screws or nails that hold the drywall to the studs. Since you can't screw into the air, they end up being very reliable.
Highly Advanced Wall Scanner
Even more impressive are sophisticated devices like the Bosch D-Tect 150 or the Makita DWD181 wall scanner, which can locate wood, electrical, ferrous or non-ferrous metals and now even plasterboard or plastic behind plasterboard. Going deeper than usual, these devices can really probe the depths of matter and reveal what lies beneath.
For many applications, this proves to be critical to not making very expensive drilling or cutting mistakes.
Finally, you need a good stud finder. While the knuckle tap test works on simple drywall most of the time, a good stud finder will allow you to be more precise. It also saves your knuckles for more important tasks like holding a hammer drill!
If you have any stud finder stories (good or bad), let us know in the comments below. As always – thanks for reading!