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The Best Stud Finders

Cegli/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated October 2021

Think about it: do you want to hit the wooden beam once and hang a gorgeous print of the French Riviera in your den, or punch four holes in the wall and hope no one notices?

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  Traditional Choice Most Versatile Best Laser-Sensor Combo Smartphone Compatibility Also Consider
 
  CH Hanson
Magnetic Stud Finder
Tavool
4-in-1 Electronic Stud Sensor
BLACK+DECKER
Stud Sensor
WALABOT
DIY Plus Advanced Wall Scanner
Franklin Sensors
ProSensor Stud Finder
 
Our SummaryA travel-friendly and simple to use stud finder that ditches the batteries in favor of a classic, stress-free design.A multipurpose stud finder that's capable of locating all manner of structures and AC wires between 1 to 2 inches deep in the wall.This stud sensor utilizes the best electronic features to deliver consistently straight framing. A downloadable stud finder that detects metal and wood in up to 4 inches of drywall and plaster.A stud finder that features not one, not two, but 13 high-precision sensors that detect with quick, pinpoint accuracy on every job.
ProsPocket-sized for easy portability, allows for vertical and horizontal markings, soft grip.Several unique detection functions, large LCD screen makes for easier scanning, maximum depth detection. Optimally balanced, multiple detection modes, auto-leveling laser. Convenient phone linking, two detection modes that create visual recreations of what's beneath the wall. Features 13 precision sensors, detects up to 1.5 inches below the surface, LEDs light up to reveal stud.
ConsPotentially too compact, minimal scan depth, doesn't produce consistent results with dense wall materials. Battery power makes for limited window of operation, purchase doesn't include the battery, select scanning modes work better than others. Battery operation is limited, auto-leveling laser is not ideal for vertical readings, higher price tag. User must always be conscious of phone's battery percentage, doesn't work well with dense materials. Internal sensors are sensitive enough to be knocked out of place, inconsistent results with dense walls, largest price tag on market.
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The Best Stud Finders

man using a stud finder on a wall and holding a drill in his other hand
Cegli/Shutterstock.com

This is why so many people turn to stud finders for their framing and home project makeovers. They’re designed to get you in and out of a home project without needing to buy drywall patches when it is over. If you’re looking for your wall’s saving grace, then here are a few stud finders we think you should check out.

Buying Guide for Stud Finders

A man uses a stud finder on a wall.
Cabeca de Marmore/Shutterstock.com

Why buy a stud finder?

As noted previously, a stud finder is ideal for simple tasks around the home, like mounting a picture frame. Of course, you need to hit the stud because, more often than not, the picture frame or item in question is far too heavy to be supported by the drywall alone. Their use in your projects not only ensures a job well done but a safer one, so you don’t have to worry about your work falling off the wall anytime soon.

What should you look for in a stud finder?

Here are a few factors to consider when narrowing down your options:

  • Design Style: First and foremost, you should be familiar with the two types of stud finders and their design perks. Your traditional and most popular choice is the magnetic stud finder, the choice that doesn’t necessarily find the stud so much as it locates the metal nails or screws planted in it, and your success here is entirely dependent on if the nails or screws were placed correctly. The modern choice—an electronic stud finder—is far more capable, detecting not just the metal but the center and edges of various studs and even AC wires.
  • Detection Power: The detection power of your stud finder is, quite literally, separated by a matter of mere inches. However, that extra inch is worthwhile if you’re seeking the utmost accuracy in your framing process. At a minimum, a decent stud finder will detect up to one inch beneath the surface, while your top-tier options can sense objects as deeply embedded as 2 to 3 inches behind a variety of wall types, floors, and ceilings.
  • The Hold: While not a factor associated with the detection process, the ease you feel while gripping a stud finder is of equal importance because not only do you want comfort, but you need to maintain a firm grip on the device so as to not lose your placement and risk ruining your mounting job.

How many types of wall constructions can a stud finder work on?

Your stud finder is designed to work with an assortment of materials; however, this depends on which style of stud finder you purchase. The standard magnetic choice is best suited for scanning through drywall and plywood, and it consistently provides solid readings. If you need to find the stud in walls made of dense materials, like lath, plaster, tile, or siding, then you absolutely should go with the electronic counterpart. So, the stud finder is plenty versatile, but only if you buy with the correct style in mind.

Our Picks for the Most On-Point Stud Finders

Traditional Choice

CH Hanson Magnetic Stud Finder

A travel-friendly and simple-to-use stud finder that ditches the batteries in favor of a classic, stress-free design.

Pros: A pocket-sized stud finder that packs plenty of power in its compact frame, this option features a series of Earth magnets to locate pieces of metal. Its magnetic design allows for hands-free use, while its rotating level grants home workers the ability to make vertical and horizontal markings without losing their place on the wall. Its battery-free operation only adds to the overall convenience, in addition to a soft grip that won’t pain your fingers over time.

Cons: This stud finder is compact to the point of misplacing it, as its small frame can get lost quickly if not stored among other home construction tools. Some users have reported this option works well for everyday needs, but its 1-inch scan depth is a clear indicator that it doesn’t work as efficiently for serious work jobs. Additional users have reported varying results when searching for studs throughout plaster walls.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an option that will satisfy small, everyday jobs, and don’t feel like breaking the bank in the process, then here’s a dependable home-centered stud finder that locates shallow studs with consistent results.

 

Most Versatile

Tavool 4-in-1 Electronic Stud Sensor

A multipurpose stud finder that's capable of locating structures and AC wires between 1 to 2 inches deep in the wall.

Pros: Capable of determining the exact location of a framing stud and presenting it to you with the utmost reliability, this stud finder combines four unique detection functions to put single-use options to shame. It’s capable of quickly pinpointing where the wood, joist, metal, and AC wire is hiding in the walls, floor, and ceilings of your home, and then showing it to you on a large LCD screen. Of its varying detection modes, its deep mode proves to be most impressive, locating wood, metal, and AC wires between 1.77 and 2.36 inches behind the wall.

Cons: For starters, this stud finder, and every function it offers, is powered by a 9-volt battery. The moment that battery dies is the moment you’re out of a stud finder, at least until you run out to the store to pick up a new battery pack. Your trip to the store should actually come before the device arrives on your doorstep, as a purchase of the stud finder doesn’t include the 9-volt battery. Some users have also reported varying results between scanning modes, as its stud finder could offer positive results one day and questionable work the next.

Bottom Line: A moderate step up from the traditional stud finder, this option makes the most out of its battery operation to deliver you a multifaceted tool that’s capable of finding studs, whether just below the drywall or multiple inches deep.

 

Best Laser-Sensor Combo

BLACK+DECKER Stud Sensor

This stud sensor utilizes snazzy electronic features to deliver consistently straight framing.

Pros: For workers seeking a new level of accuracy to their home construction, this stud finder features not one but two balancing properties for the straightest mounting work. On top of being a high-powered stud sensor capable of detecting wooden beams, metal, and live AC wires, this choice also features a patented auto-leveling BullsEye laser that grants you even horizontal framing. It also features an easy-to-read LCD that accommodates users of varying skillsets.

Cons: As this stud finder employs battery operation, its LCD screen and BullsEye laser will cease to work until the correct battery is used or replaced. When in use, some users have reported that the stud finder’s BullsEye function isn’t ideal for vertical readings, as the laser will not project as defined along a wall as it would in a horizontal position. Additionally, this option carries a hefty price tag to its name.

Bottom Line: For users seeking the expertise of a trusted brand name, this stud finder brings you the storied resilience of a BLACK + DECKER product and an accompanying variety of tech-forward functions intended to make your mounting experience much more accessible.

 

Smartphone Compatibility

WALABOT DIY Plus Advanced Wall Scanner

A downloadable stud finder that detects metal and wood in up to 4 inches of drywall and plaster.

Pros: This wall scanner capitalizes on our constant phone usage with the creation of a sensor pad and an official Google Store app for Android phones running Android 6.0 and above. The pair work in unison between two detection modes: image mode and expert mode. The former presents a visual recreation of metal and wooden studs, while the latter presents an unfiltered view of raw radar signals, and their surrounding details, in real time.

Cons: Like other battery-operated versions of the stud finder, you’re working with a limited window of function because this option is powered entirely by your phone. As your phone battery drains, the overall success of the stud finder will dwindle, too, unless you’re hooked up to your wall charger for the duration of its use. Unlike most premium stud finders, this option doesn’t possess the capability to accurately scan through tile, a significant drawback given its modern edge and high price.

Bottom Line: Your phone sits in your back pocket for hours out of the day, so is it such a crazy idea to believe that’s where your next stud finder is hiding? This smartphone-powered choice fully embraces the potential of contemporary craftsmanship, providing you with a 24/7 stud finder that you can take almost anywhere.

 

Also Consider

Franklin Sensors ProSensor Stud Finder

A stud finder that features not one, not two, but 13 high-precision sensors that detect with quick, pinpoint accuracy.

Pros: Whereas traditional stud finders feature one to two sensors in their design, this device is lined with 13 high-precision sensors for the most assured detection process. This option can sense multiple studs buried 1.5 inches deep in a single sweep, as bright LEDs light up to indicate when you’ve found the prize. In addition to the positioning of the stud, this finder grants you an accurate sense of the stud’s width as well.

Cons: While this device works exceptionally well with drywall, some users have reported that it doesn’t provide consistent results when used on denser materials, like plaster, siding tile, and so on. Some users also found that the stud finder’s internal magnetic sensors are highly sensitive, so much so that they can be damaged if the device is dropped onto a hard surface. Additionally, it’s one of the most expensive stud finders on the market.

Bottom Line: An innovative and expertly crafted choice that locates studs with repeated finesse, this stud finder is the kind of fast and error-resistant device that you’ll likely want to keep around the house for a very long time.

Final Thoughts

Time and time again, many of us have missed the stud and riddled our walls with nail holes in the failed effort to hang a framed photo. With a stud finder, you’re likely to never have that issue again, but this goes beyond picture frames. Many home improvement projects become easier with a stud finder guiding your hammer hand.

Hollis Mills Hollis Mills
Hollis Mills is a freelance journalist and a content writer for LifeSavvy. He has a bachelor's degree in English literature, and as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University, Hollis wrote and edited for the nationally recognized student newspaper, The Battalion. When he's not writing, you can find him complaining about Boston Celtics basketball or giving plenty of peanut butter biscuits to his always-hungry Catahoula dog, Blue. Read Full Bio »
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