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The Best Stud Finders for One-and-Done Hole Punching

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

Stud finders can really be the difference-maker in your framing and home project makeovers. 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? Stud finders are 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.

What to Look for in Your Next 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 to this day 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. Additionally, electronic options feature LCD displays to offer you a complete understanding of the dimensions you’re working with.
  • 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, every decent stud finder will detect up to one inch beneath a surface, while your top-tier options can sense objects as deeply embedded as two to three 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.

Traditional Choice: CH Hanson Magnetic Stud Finder

On the left, a yellow and black stud finder locates the wooden beam for an off-screen worker to strike a nail into. On the right, the yellow and black stud finder rests in carboard packing that is covered in various device details.
CH Hanson

A pocket-sized stud finder that packs plenty of power in its compact frame, this CH Hanson Magnetic Stud Finder features, as its name suggests, a series of Earth magnets to locate that metal in that pesky stud. Its magnetic design allows for hands-free use, while its rotating level allows home workers 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.

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.

Most Versatile Choice: Tavool 4-in-1 Electronic Stud Sensor

On the left, a black and silver stud finder alerts its user of a stud behind the wall. On the right, a closer view of the stud finder's electronic LCD screen, which displays stud presence, width, and battery life.
Tavool

Capable of determining the exact location of a framing stud and presenting it to you with the utmost dependability, this Tavool Electronic Stud Sensor combines four unique detection functions to put single-use options to shame. This stud finder is 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, incredibly clear LCD screen. Of its varying detection modes, stud mode is accurate up to 1.2 inches behind drywall, while metal mode detects 1.57 inches deep, and deep mode locates wood, metal, and AC wires anywhere between 1.77 and 2.36 inches behind the wall.

Most Versatile Choice

Tavool 4-in-1 Electronic Stud Sensor

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.

Best Laser-Sensor Combo: BLACK+DECKER Stud Sensor

On the left, a black and orange stud finder alerts its user of a stud behind the wall. On the right, a woman marks the positioning of the stud while using the device's laser level feature.
BLACK+DECKER

For workers seeking a new level of accuracy to their home construction, this BLACK+DECKER Stud Sensor features not one but two balancing properties for the straightest picture hanging. On top of being a high-powered stud sensor, capable of detecting wooden beams, metal, and live A/C wires, it also features a patented auto-leveling BullsEye laser that consistently grants you even horizontal framing. Like the best electronic stud finders, this device features an easy-to-read LCD display that accommodates users of every skill set.

Best Laser-Sensor Combo

BLACK+DECKER Stud Sensor

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

Smartphone Compatibility: WALABOT DIY Plus Advanced Wall Scanner

On the left, a purple and black stud finder sensor sits outside of its packaging. On the right, the stud sensor is attached to an Android phone while displaying its visual recreation of a wooden beam on the screen.
WALABOT

Your phone sits in your back pocket eight hours out of every day, so is it such a crazy idea to believe that’s where your next stud finder is hiding? This WALABOT 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 former presents an unfiltered view of raw radar signals, and all of their surrounding details, in real-time.

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.

Best Precision Pick: Franklin Sensors ProSensor Stud Finder

A black and yellow, 7-inch stud finder that features a scan-trigger just above its base, and 13 sensors located along the top of its frame.
Franklin Sensors

Whereas traditional stud finders feature 1 to 2 sensors in their design, this Franklin Sensors ProSensor Stud Finder 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.

Best Precision Pick

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 on every job.

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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