DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum (
-   General DIY Discussions (
-   -   Finding wall studs (

jmfma 12-30-2009 10:22 AM

Finding wall studs
While not a professional, I have had quite a bit of experience in a variety of home building, home repair, etc., but one thing that eludes me to this day is finding studs in a wall.
Any attempts I've ever made to hang a picture, with or without a stud finder, ending up looking like a wall riddled with machine gun fire in an Al Capone film.

After springing for a new $30 Zircon electronic stud finder, I am still in the same boat, as this thing gives me false readings on where the studs are, as well as telling me that another entire 4 foot width of wall seems to have no studs whatsoever (perhaps it's levitation that is somehow holding the plaster up...).

Of course, I have tried measuring 16", tapping with knuckles and a hammer and several different types of stud finders.

Does anyone have a technique or tool that has consistently worked for finding wood studs?

TitaniumVT 12-30-2009 02:09 PM

I've had mixed results too, and would be interested in any more foolproof techniques members might be willing to share.

The electronic stud finders I've used are generally worthless - many false readings, and different results when you scan the same area of the wall twice in succession. I'd be happy to spend the money on a new stud finder if I had confidence it would actually work reliably.

Tapping on the wall (listening for hollow and solid raps) seems to work reasonably well in my case. I also worry less about finding a stud for hanging pictures these days because of the innovations in hanging hooks that can hold a significant amount of weight in just drywall. You can find them in any craft store, and some can hold up to 150lbs of weight in drywall.

oberkc 12-30-2009 02:24 PM

I have had pretty good luck with stud finders. The only thing that I am careful about is ensuring that I start the studfinder in an area that I am reasonalby confident is over the open bay. So I start with the knuckle test to identify the hollow sound, then begin there with the stud finder. Once the studfinder locates structure, I do my best to find other confirmation (nail pops or depressions, repeat knuckle test). Also, I find that if a studfinder gives repeatable results over several passes, it is pretty reliable.

jmfma 12-31-2009 10:31 AM

Any other ideas?
Actually, I'm not trying to hang pictures.
I am trying to install some grab bars and railings in an elderly relative's home, so it is important that what ever I end up with is strong.

I have been to home depot 4 times in the last couple of days and nothing I have tried has worked:
the studfinders
anchor screws of a variety of sizes

Any suggestions would be much appreciated, as I'm running out of time to get this done.

user69544 12-31-2009 11:30 AM

My FIL does it with an electric razor. He the listens for the sound.:laughing::laughing:

PaliBob 12-31-2009 12:02 PM


Originally Posted by jmfma (Post 374397)
Actually,.....I am trying to install some grab bars and railings...

For Grab Bars on a wall that is not tiled the technique that I use is the "Hunt & Peck Method"

First try to approximate the stud location with visual clues such as window framing or AC receptacles or HVAC vents then use the battery powered stud finder or a magnetic finder e.g. a Cow Magnet

____The steps above are just to get you in the ballpark. You need to know where are the stud edges. The battery powered Stud Finder has to many variables as to type and depth of wall coatings while even a dead on magnetic finder can only detect metal, not the stud edges

Hunt & Peck Method
Required tools: 6d finish nail, hammer, pencil, Dap Fast'n Final Lightweight Spackle

Starting at the Grab Bar height on the wall, Make a series of holes with the 6d nail starting at about an inch apart.

At the first location where wood is contacted, pull the nail out and make a tick mark above that hole.

Now use a successive approximation technique by moving the nail in small increments (1/4”) to the left and right. By only marking the holes that have wood contact the stud edges can be quickly profiled.

If you did a good job in the initial approximating and you are lucky, the small nail holes will be covered by the Grab Bar flange, if not there is the Spackle

Ron6519 12-31-2009 12:29 PM

Palibobs' suggestion will work fine. Just realize, most grab bars are not made at 16" intervals, so you will need to either install blocking for a horizontal bar or install it on a slant to catch 2 studs.

PaliBob 12-31-2009 12:54 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Ron is right about Grab Bar length
I have not seen any horizontal bars line up exactly to stud spacing.

For toilet grab bars I either mount horizontal bars at an angle to cach the studs or add an additional short vertical grab to a single stud.

For a vertical Grab Handle I install this type:

jmfma 01-03-2010 05:06 PM

Thank you all for your helpful suggestions.
We're back home now and did manage to get some railings and grab bars up at my in-laws.

In the end, I used a combination of things and got the job done.

I do have to say though, that I am still baffled that in 2009, with all of the advancements in technology and science, etc., that such a basic thing as hanging a picture (or grab bar), still poses the same problems that it did 100 years ago.

Anyway, thanks again!

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:47 PM.

vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1