Studs are wooden or metal beams behind your drywall that form the framing. When you’re hanging heavy items, like wall-mounted TVs, shelves, or artwork, drilling into a stud will give the item the support it needs.
To find studs, you can use a stud finder. A stud finder works via a magnet or electronic sensor, signaling when a stud is behind the wall.
Types of Stud Finders
Stud finders vary in price, ranging from less than $10 for a simple magnetic model to hundreds of dollars for professional models. The best stud finders for frequent DIYers cost around $50, but cheaper options are available.
The three main types of stud finders include:
- Magnetic – Magnetic stud finders are attracted to metal, so they cling to the wall when near a drywall fastener. In most cases, stud spacing is every 16 inches, and drywall screw spacing is 8-16 inches along a stud. If the magnetic stud finder clings to the wall in a pattern imitating drywall screws, you’ve likely found a stud.
- Electronic – Electronic stud finders scan the density in the wall and beep when the density changes, locating the studs. Some stud finders find the center of studs, while others locate the edges. It’s important to know which kind you have.
- Multi-purpose – Multi Purpose stud finders have multiple capabilities which vary by model. Some features include locating studs, metal, and AC wires.
Best Stud Finder Reviews
Whether you need an inexpensive magnetic stud finder, one for plaster walls, or the best electronic option, we’ve got you covered.
Top Pick: Franklin Sensors ProSensor 710+
Franklin Sensors ProSensor 710+ has 13 sensors and a 21-inch sensing area, making it one of the most accurate models on the market. It shows the edges and center of the studs. The built-in ruler and level make it easy to mark your studs once you find them.
You can use this stud finder to locate metal and wood studs, and since it only has one mode, it’s easy to use.
Franklin Sensors ProSensor 710+ has a 4.6 out of 5-star rating from more than 9,800 buyers. Most reviews report that this stud finder is accurate, easy to use, and a step above competing models. There are a couple of reviews claiming damage after dropping this stud finder.
- It contains 13 sensors and a 21-inch sensing field for high accuracy
- Detects metal and wood studs up to 1.6 inches in depth
- Features a built-in ruler and level for easy marking
- A couple of complaints about durability
Most Affordable: Craftsman Stud Finder
The Craftsman Stud Finder is an affordable model that can detect the edges of wood and metal studs. It has a ¾ inch depth range and can detect studs through wallpaper and fabric.
To use the stud finder, hold it against a flat surface and place the activation button, and it will calibrate. Then slowly run it across the wall, and it will signal when it locates the edge of the stud. You’ll need to mark the edge and then run the stud finder on the opposite side to find the other edge.
The Craftsman Stud Finder has a 4.2 out of 5-star rating from more than 19,800 buyers. Most reviewers state that it’s a great low-cost option, but there are some complaints that it’s not as accurate for ceiling joists or siding.
- Very inexpensive electronic stud finder
- Detects the edges of wood and metal studs
- Good options for small DIY jobs
- Less accurate on thick wall coverings and ceilings
Best Magnetic: CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder
The CH Hanson 03040 Stud Finder features powerful magnets that can detect drywall fasteners by clinging to the wall. It features a compact design that easily fits in a pocket or toolbox and has a soft grip for comfort.
To use this stud finder, slowly move it, and it will grip the wall anywhere there are metal studs or drywall screws. Since the magnets are powerful, you can also use this model to detect studs in plaster walls.
The CH Hanson 03040 Stud Finder has a 4.7 out of 5-star rating from over 2,200 reviewers. There are very few negative comments for this product; most purchasers had zero complaints.
- Powerful magnet will detect drywall screws and metal studs
- Works for drywall and plaster
- Inexpensive and portable stud finder
- It’s more difficult to feel the magnet pull with thick wall material
Best with Laser Level: Black + Decker Line Laser, Auto Level Stud Finder
If hanging items on the wall is your primary use for a stud finder, the Black + Decker Line Laser Stud Finder is a good choice. It can locate metal studs, wood studs, and A/C wires and features a laser level, making it easy to hang wall decor.
The screen displays “stud found” when you locate a stud and the laser auto levels. It’s an easy model for beginners and experienced DIYers to use.
The Black + Decker Line, Laser Stud Finder, has a 4.4 out of 5-star rating from 2,400+ users. While most reviewers like this model, many report that the stud finder isn’t always accurate.
- Features an auto-level laser level for hanging items on the wall
- Stud finder has a digital display for easy readings
- Works for metal studs, wood studs, and A/C wires
- Mixed reviews on the accuracy of the stud finder
Best Multi-Use: Bosch GMS120 Digital Mutliscanner
The Bosch GMS120 scans for wood, metal, and A/C wire. It works for many materials, including 2 inches deep for live wiring, 4 ¾ inches deep in concrete, 1 ½ inches for wood studs, and 3 ⅛ inches for copper.
The LCD screen displays the mode and flashes green if no object is near the scanner, orange if there’s an object nearby, and red when the sensors are in range.
The Bosch GMS120 has a 4.2 out of 5-star rating from more than 3,600 reviewers. While most users like this model for detecting metal and A/C wires, many report that it’s less accurate for wood studs.
- Scans for wood, metal, and A/C wires
- Can scan through many materials, including concrete and drywall
- LCD display makes switching modes and detecting objects easy
- Some complaints about the accuracy of detecting wooden studs
Best for Lath and Plaster Walls: Zircon MetalliScanner M40
Since plaster is thicker than drywall, many stud finders can’t locate the studs behind this material. The Zircon MetalliScanner M40 locates magnetic and non-magnetic metal behind plaster, concrete, and drywall, making it an ideal choice for lath and plaster walls.
With this model, users can detect metal up to four inches in depth and choose from two scan modes: wide or pinpoint scan. LED lights and an audio signal will indicate metal behind the wall.
The Zircon MetalliScanner M40 has over 200 reviews with a 4.4 out of 5-star rating. Most users had good experiences using this model to locate metal behind walls, pipes under shower tiles, and rebar in concrete. There are very few complaints.
- Detects ferrous and non-ferrous metals
- Works on drywall, lath and plaster, tile, concrete, and more
- Easy to use with only two detection modes
- Depth limit of 2-4 inches, depending on the metal type – if your walls are thicker, this stud finder won’t work
Best for Metal: JAXWQ Stud Finder
The JAXWQ Stud Finder has the most scan modes of any model on our list. It can detect wood, metal, and A/C live wires and features a regular, medium, and deep scan mode. It will indicate the edges and centers of metal and wood studs.
Anyone worried about drilling into live wires will appreciate this model. It will indicate live wires up to two inches deep on every type of stud scan.
The JAXWQ Stud Finder has over 13,000 reviews and a 4.4 out of 5-star rating – it’s one of the most reviewed stud finders on Amazon. Most users state this product works well and is easy to use. There are a few complaints of inaccuracy in locating studs and that it didn’t work on plaster walls.
- Detects metal, wood, and live A/C wires
- Features three scan modes for various depth levels
- Indicates the edges and center of a stud
- Not accurate all the time, especially for thicker walls
How We Chose the Best Stud Finders
To compile our list of the best stud finders, we evaluated the most common needs, which include finding the edges and centers of studs, locating studs behind drywall and plaster, and locating live wires. Based on these criteria, we found highly-rated options at various price points to suit many needs.
Why Trust Homedit Reviews
Since 2008 Homedit has delivered up-to-date and honest home improvement tips, reviews, and ideas. Our writer, Katie Barton, has over ten years of experience in the home improvement field and contributes to many top media outlets. Her goal is to provide readers with unbiased reviews so they can best decide where to spend their hard-earned money.