When it comes to decorating your home, finding the best place to hang your new painting, a framed family photo, or where to mount your TV can be difficult. But once you’ve finally picked the perfect wall and you’ve decided how high the painting, picture or TV should be, there’s still one big step. You need to find the stud. Fortunately, the best stud finders easily and quickly locate studs in drywall using magnets. The magnet in the stud finder is attracted to the metal in a stud, helping you find studs without opening up your wall.
To avoid making your wall look like it has chickenpox and covering it with nail holes, a stud finder can quickly locate a stud, guiding you on where to land your nail. Finding the stud means finding a safe and secure spot to drill your nail, providing a strong hold for whatever you want to hang.
Depending on the type of stud finder, they also offer a second huge safety benefit by locating live wires in the wall. Your TV may look great in the spot you picked out on the wall, but if you drill a nail through the cable wire, it’s going to be tough to watch your favorite show.
Before you hang anything, make sure you have a reliable stud finder to help preserve your walls.
1. CH Hanson Magnetic Stud Finder
Easy to use and featuring the added benefit of a two-way level, the CH Hanson Magnetic Stud Finder is perfect for the weekend handyman. The CH Hanson is so small that it can fit in your pocket, making it easy to access. The way it works is that it uses a powerful magnet that finds nails in the stud. Plus, since it affixes to the walls using the magnets, you can use it hands-free. The two-way level helps with proper placement.
Pros: Powerful magnet for hands-free use and a two-way level that makes it easy to mark a spot. No batteries required.
Cons: The CH Hanson works well for drywall, but is not strong enough to be used on plaster walls. The CH Hanson isn’t a traditional stud finder and instead locates nails that hold sheetrock together rather than actual studs, which somewhat limits the accuracy.
2. ProSensor Precision Stud Finder
The ProSensor is a great option when looking for a stud in drywall or other smooth walls. The ProSensor uses advanced multi-sense technology and can identify the position of multiple studs simultaneously and deep scanning up to 1.5 inches is available. We like that the ProSensor doesn’t require calibration.
Pros: Bright LEDs for working in the dark. Works for drywall.
Cons: No built-in level.
3. Zircon StudSensor
Whether you’re mounting a TV or hanging shelves in a garage, avoid wires with the Zircon, which can detect the edges of wood and metal studs. The Zircon also alerts users of live wires, with Wire Warning detection able to locate a live wire through two inches of material. The Zircon features the StudScan mode, which locates wood or metal studs up to 0.75 inches deep, while the DeepScan mode goes 1.5 inches deep. The SpotLite Pointer shines an arrow-shaped light on the wall to easily mark the target.
Pros: Detects multiple kinds of materials, including wires. “DeepScan” tells you how far the stud is.
Cons: The Zircon can find the edge of studs, but not the center. The Zircon can only be used on interior walls and doesn’t work on plaster walls.
4. The StudBuddy Magnetic Stud Finder
The StudBuddy is the kind of ridiculously simple tool that you’ll wish you’d heard of a long time ago. The small plastic tool is only 5 inches long and weighs less than 2 ounces. There are no batteries or electronic parts — it simply uses strong magnets to locate nails and screws in the studs. The magnets in this lightweight tool make it able to “stick” to the wall once it finds the studs, so you can leave it as a place marker while you gather hammers and other tools.
Pros: Simple and affordable, no batteries required, works with wood studs by locating nails.
Cons: Since it locates nails, it won’t necessarily find the center of a wooden stud, making it less exact than some other options.
5. BLACK+DECKER Line Laser with Stud Finder
If you want something that can perform multiple handy functions in one, consider this option from the perenially reliable Black + Decker. The two-in-one tool is a line laser and stud finder. This helps ensure that you’ll mount shelving or frames in the right place, and whatever you mount will also be straight, too. The auto-leveler ensures the guide lasers are level, and a visual display lets you know when a stud is found.
Pros: Laser level and stud finder ensure whatever you mount will be properly aligned. Built-in auto-leveler for precision.
Cons: Stud finder could be more accurate.
6. FOLAI Stud Finder Sensor
This affordable sensor from Folai is designed to help you find different kinds of materials that might be in your walls, allowing you to avoid drilling into AC wire or metal pipes. It also has a feature to help you find the center of the stud, so you can have the most secure hold when mounting heavy shelving. The beep function also indicates when you’re close to your target. Plus, the backlit display makes it easier to use in poor lighting conditions.
Pros: Backlit display, mode function helps you distinguish between different things in your walls. Depth feature to indicate how deep the stud is in the wall.
Cons: Occasionally inaccurate, which may require making multiple passes to ensure you’re in the right spot.
7. Tavool Stud Finder Sensor
Tavool’s electronic stud finder is a versatile option for beginners and pros alike. The precise sensor is designed to distinguish between different kinds of objects in your walls, ensuring that you drill where you should (and preventing you from drilling where you shouldn’t). The device helps locate AC wires and metal pipes and tells you what you’re near using the graphic display screen, so you can avoid drilling into those areas.
Pros: Audio feature to notify you when you’ve found the stud. Multiple modes help you avoid pipes and AC wires. Helps find the center of a stud.
Cons: Can take some effort to properly calibrate.