Finding Studs in Walls

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated September 20, 2019)

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I have a general idea about how houses are built, I don't know much about how walls are laid out within a house. With that said, even I know that if I want to hang something heavy on a wall, I need to locate the stud so that I can bang a nail or screw a screw into it to hold the heavy item onto the wall. I've had the misfortune to learn the hard way that you cannot merely hang heavy items into the drywall, since drywall is superficial and will not hold weight. The framing studs of a wall will hold much more weight than drywall, so make sure that you locate them. How? Here are some tips for locating the studs within completed walls:

  • The knocking method. While it isn't 100% guaranteed that you will find the studs with this method, I've seen my father, grandfather, and husband use it plenty of times, with success. Simply knock on the wall with your knuckle in half-inch increments horizontally across the wall, and go slowly. You should notice a slight difference in sound when you find a stud.
  • If the room has baseboards, get on your hands-and-knees and look for the nails that hold the boards to the wall. Chances are that they have been nailed into the wall studs.
  • At least 95% of the time, inside and outside corners of all rooms have studs in them, so you can make a correct guess as to how the walls of the room are framed by measuring out from a corner. Start with measuring 16 inches from a corner. The term "16 inches on center" means that every sixteen inches, you will find a stud.
  • Especially in older homes, you can look down the length of a wall and sometimes see ridges, waves, and bumps in the surface of the wall, indicating that a stud may lie beneath. Before banging into it, however, measure the occurrence of each bump to determine if there are actually studs beneath the divot, and that it isn't just a nail that someone plastered over. Remember that studs will most often be on 12-inch or 16-inch centers.

You can also find ridges and indentations in a wall by laying a lit flashlight against the wall, allowing the light to spread across. As you slowly inch the flashlight across the wall, the light will illuminate most imperfections. A more reliable way to find wall studs is to use an electronic stud finder. Very affordable, as well as accurate, you can find electronic stud finders in hardware or home improvement stores. Follow the directions on the package to use them, but the general premise is to lay the device on the wall, turn it on, and slowly move it along the wall until you hear a beep.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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What is eight more than 7?

2013-02-03 04:03:01

Pete Laberge

If you think you know where the stud is, but want to make sure... One trick, if you are dealing with drywall (not plaster), is to find an inconspicuous place on the wall, usually either at the very bottom or the very top. Find a very thin diameter nail or large pin. Something about 1.5 inches long. Hammer or press it into the drywall. If it foes through without stopping there is no wood. It it goes through a bit and stops, you have wood underneath. That is where the stud is. You may need to put the pin in about 4 times, left to right, each time 1/2 inch apart.