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6 Best Stud Finders (2023 Review)

The ideal stud finder includes precise detection, quick calibration, and an alert system. In this review, the This Old House Reviews Team researched the best stud finders on the market to help you find the product that’s right for you and your home.

Stud Finder Courtesy Zircon

Stud finders are used to determine where the studs in your walls are located. Once you’ve located a stud, you can drill into it to hang objects, such as picture frames and televisions.

In this review and buyer’s guide, we take a look at today’s best stud finders, discuss various features and options to look for when buying, and answer some common questions.

Here are our top recommendations.

Compare Top Stud Finders

Product Max Scan Depth Power Source Display Panel Item Weight
Product Max Scan Depth Power Source Display Panel Item Weight
Franklin Sensors Professional Stud Finder 1.6 inches AA batteries (2) No 6.4 ounces
Zircon StudSensor Wall Scanner 1.5 inches 9-Volt battery Yes 9.1 ounces
BLACK+DECKER Line Laser Not listed AA batteries (2) Yes 15.8 ounces
VIVREAL Stud Finder Wall Scanner 2.3 inches 9-Volt battery Yes 5.4 ounces
Tavool Stud Finder Wall Scanner 2.4 inches 9-Volt battery Yes 5.4 ounces
The StudBuddy Magnetic Stud Finder N/A N/A No 1.6 ounces

Top 6 Stud Finders


Best Accuracy: Franklin Sensors Professional Stud Finder

Franklin Sensors Professional Stud Finder

Franklin Sensors Professional Stud Finder

  • $55

Prices taken at time of publishing.

Outfitted with an unprecedented 13 sensors, this stud finder is built for accuracy and reliability. It has a built-in bubble level and ruler to make hanging objects from your walls easier. Additionally, the stud finder is durable enough to withstand being dropped from a ladder.

Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons

✔ Features a built-in ruler
✔ Includes a built-in bubble level
✔ Boasts a large, 21-inch sensing area

✘ Doesn’t have a screen
✘ Prone to detect other magnetic objects within the wall, not just studs

What Customers Are Saying

Satisfied customers liked that this product was multifunctional, saying that it gave them all of the tools they needed to hang items from their walls. However, some customers said that it was cheaply made and only worked for some projects. For example, one reviewer said that it couldn’t locate close-proximity studs.


Best Grip: Zircon StudSensor Wall Scanner

Zircon StudSensor Wall Scanner

Zircon StudSensor Wall Scanner

  • $31

Prices taken at time of publishing.

The body of this stud finder gets skinnier toward the end, making it possible for small hands to hold it comfortably. The stud finder works on a variety of wall surfaces, including subflooring. Additionally, this tapered end has a textured rubber coating for better gripping.

Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons

✔ Comes with a lifetime warranty
✔ Detects live wires during all scanning modes
✔ Features a large LCD readout panel

✘ Doesn’t give accurate readings on all walls
✘ Doesn’t have a dedicated scan mode for live wires

What Customers Are Saying

Customers praised this stud finder for its edge- and center-scanning capability as well as its ability to detect studs in dense materials, such as double sheetrock. Customers who were unhappy with this stud finder said that it didn’t move smoothly on some walls and that it gave false readings on some materials, such as porcelain tile.


Best Laser: BLACK+DECKER Line Laser

BLACK+DECKER Line Laser

BLACK+DECKER Line Laser

  • $91

Prices taken at time of publishing.

After detecting a stud, this precision tool emits a horizontal laser line. This allows you to hang a picture frame, clock, television, or another item from the stud while ensuring that it’s level. The line laser is also available as part of a complete tool kit, including a power drill.

Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons

✔ Features patented auto-leveling technology
✔ Comes with the two batteries needed for operation
✔ Includes a 2-year limited warranty

✘ More expensive than similar products on the market
✘ The red screen makes it difficult to read

What Customers Are Saying

Most customers said that this product was accurate and easy to use. Others mentioned that it continued to perform well even after they had owned it for years. Dissatisfied customers said that the stud finder was bulky and top-heavy, making handling difficult. A few reviewers also noted issues with using the product vertically.


Best For Metal Scanning: VIVREAL Stud Finder Wall Scanner

VIVREAL Stud Finder Wall Scanner

VIVREAL Stud Finder Wall Scanner

  • $25

Prices taken at time of publishing.

The VIVREAL Stud Finder Wall Scanner features four modes for stud, live cable, metal, and deep scanning. However, its most notable mode is the metal mode which can detect various metals up to 2.25 inches deep. To locate wood and metal studs, the scanner works up to 1.5 inches.

Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons

✔ Offers four scanning modes
✔ Provides visible and audible alerts
✔ Includes a backlit LCD screen

✘ Requires calibration before each scan
✘ Gives shallower readings in its deep scan and live cable modes than similar models

What Customers Are Saying

Customers liked the VIVREAL Stud Finder Wall Scanner for its easy-to-read display, affordability, and durability. Dissatisfied customers said that this product provided inaccurate readings. They were also frustrated by how much of their time was dedicated to calibrating it before every use.


Best Multipurpose: Tavool Stud Finder Wall Scanner

Tavool Stud Finder Wall Scanner

Tavool Stud Finder Wall Scanner

  • $31

Prices taken at time of publishing.

This wall scanner has four scanning modes designed to find studs, metals, and live cables at shallow, medium, and deep depths. This allows you to pinpoint the exact placement of items behind your walls. It comes in a sleek silver finish but is offered in multiple colors.

Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons

✔ Offers multi-sense technology
✔ Cost-effective pricing
✔ Features grippy, rubberized trim for secure handling

✘ Doesn’t come with batteries
✘ Sometimes gives inconsistent readings

What Customers Are Saying

Customers said that the Tavool Stud Finder Wall Scanner was easy to use with its easy-to-read screen and easy-to-navigate mode controls. Many reviewers also said that it worked well on a variety of surfaces ranging from sheetrock to lath and plaster. Dissatisfied customers said that it gave inconsistent readings.


Best Magnetic: The StudBuddy Magnetic Stud Finder

The StudBuddy Magnetic Stud Finder

The StudBuddy Magnetic Stud Finder

  • $13

Prices taken at time of publishing.

This simple stud finder uses a powerful magnet instead of battery-powered sensors to identify studs. The magnet’s plastic casing is easy to hold and won’t mar or scratch the surface of the wall. Since it has no batteries or moving parts, the stud finder is always ready to use.

Courtesy Amazon

Pros and Cons

✔ Uses ultra-strong neodymium to detect screw or nail heads inside studs
✔ Ergonomically designed to comfortably fit in the user’s hand
✔ The magnet-powered stud finder is made in the USA

✘ Not intended for use on lath and plaster walls
✘ Some customers thought that the stud finder was overpriced given its simplicity

What Customers Are Saying

Many reviewers were pleased with the simplicity and effectiveness of this magnetic stud finder. They stated that it was lightweight and easy to use and yielded reliable and consistent results. However, some reviewers complained that the stud finder was only able to identify the location of metal screws and nails rather than the studs themselves, and other users thought that stud locator was a little pricey.


Buying Guide for Stud Finders

Stud finders are essential when hanging items or mapping out any DIY project on one of your home’s walls. In addition to choosing between magnetic and electronic stud finders, think about each product’s battery life and additional features.

Type of Stud Finder

Stud detectors are either magnetic or electronic. The latter type can be further broken down into subcategories.

Magnetic

Magnetic stud finders use large magnets to find the nails that are holding the studs together. Some magnetic stud finders are molded into a plastic casing, while some are left loose. With molded ones, you can feel the magnetic attraction as you push it along the wall. With loose ones, you’ll hear a “thunk” noise when it finds something or see a bright piece of plastic pop up. The downside to this type of stud finder is that you can’t guarantee that it found a stud and not some other magnetic piece behind the wall.

Electronic

All electronic stud finders use sensors to measure the change in density in the wall. You usually have to place the stud finder on a part of the wall without studs to ensure it gets calibrated before sliding it across the wall to find studs. Once the finder locates a stud, the results are displayed on an LCD screen.

There are three subcategories of electronic stud finders:

  • Edge: An edge stud finder finds the edge of a stud. After finding that edge, you have to approach the stud from the other side to find its other edge and determine its width.
  • Center: Center finders use multiple sensors to gauge the stud’s entire width and provide you with its center.
  • Multisensor/Instant: This is a relatively new type of stud finder that scans an entire wall at once to give you the location of all of the studs. Because this type of stud finder requires multiple readings, it tends to be more accurate than the other electronic types. It doesn’t require calibration before use either.

Battery

Most electronic stud finders use nine-volt or AA batteries to operate. However, manufacturers rarely supply these batteries, which means you’ll have to remember to purchase the initial ones and any backup ones as they die. The battery often powers the wall stud finder’s “beep,” which is emitted when a stud, joist, or certain feature of the wall is detected.

Grip

Ergonomics are worth considering, especially if you’ll be using your stud finder on a regular basis. Many stud finders have a comfortable grip in the shape of a computer mouse for users to gently and carefully guide it along the wall.

Extra Features

Some electronic stud finders can detect live electric cables and different types of metal in addition to finding studs. This ensures that you’re not drilling into any important pieces behind your wall.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I hang a heavy item if I can’t find a stud?

If you’re struggling to find a stud and want to hang a heavy object, such as a mirror or picture frame, you can use drywall anchors. These pieces of plastic fit into holes you drill into the wall and hold screws.

Why isn’t my stud finder working?

Stud finders can be finicky when it comes to their batteries. If you’re having trouble getting your stud finder to function, change its batteries and recalibrate it. If this doesn’t work, you may have to purchase a new stud finder.

Can I use my smartphone as a stud finder?

Yes. There are apps that allow you to use your smartphone as a stud finder. However, these apps aren’t known to be nearly as accurate or trustworthy as dedicated stud finders. Additionally, the app may not offer as many features as a true stud finder, such as detecting live wires or leveling the surface.

How far apart are studs?

Most studs are 16–24 inches apart, but that’s not always the case. Before hanging an object that requires more than one stud, measure the wall for all studs instead of just finding one and assuming the next one will be 16–24 inches away from it.


Why Trust The This Old House Reviews Team

This Old House has empowered homeowners for more than four decades with top-notch home improvement content in the form of television programs, print media, and digital content on its website and social media platforms. The This Old House Reviews Team focuses on creating in-depth product and service review content to help inform your purchasing decision for just about any item or resource that you might need for your home. The This Old House Reviews Team has written over 1,000 reviews on products in the home space, from cordless drills to kitchen trash cans, lawn mowers, and dining room decorations.

We recommend products in each review using an intensive research process, spending hours combing through the best available models on Amazon. For a product to make our list of top picks, it must hold a solid sales record on Amazon, have consistently positive customer reviews, and offer unique features, among other factors. After narrowing down our list of recommendations, we conduct additional research and sometimes in-person testing to ensure that the products meet our standards. Once we conclude the research phase, we craft a well-rounded, user-friendly article that includes our recommended products and additional information to help homeowners like you make the right purchase.

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