One of the most overlooked tools in the home handyman’s tool box is a studfinder. Getting one will allow you to find studs, whether you need to avoid them or insert something into them for your next project.
There’s a lot of them on the market, and it’s not always obvious to the consumer which one they should go with. We’re here to show you some of the best, and then help you decide which of them is the best suited for your next DIY project.
The Top 5 Stud Finders
We’ve assembled a motley crew of stud finders, suited for everyone from the novice without much of a budget to the budding professional. Read on, one of them is certain to meet your needs quite perfectly, and allow you to get your job done without any extra holes in the wall or “shocking” revelations.
|CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder||Magnetic||Level|
|Zircon 68314 MultiScanner i520||Electronic||Live Wire Detection|
|FOLAI Stud Finder||Electronic||None|
|Zircon 68315 StudSensor i65||Electronic||None|
|ProSensor 710+ Professional Stud Finder||Electronic||Rule and Level|
What is a Stud Finder?
- The Top 5 Stud Finders
- What is a Stud Finder?
A stud finder is a tool which allows you to find studs.
Okay, it’s a little bit more complex than that. A stud finder uses one of a few different methods in order to return a signal which can give you the precise location of the wood reinforcement in your home.
In addition to that, they’re used in the construction field for everything from avoiding pipes while drilling in foundations to penetrating steel walls without hitting a live wire.
For the average home owner, they’re just a way to make life a lot easier when you’re hanging a TV or some shelving. You can skip the wall anchors and get things done right in the wall without wondering if you’re going to have a collapse in your near future.
What Are the Advantages of a Stud Finder?
There are two categories that a stud finder really helps with around the house: safety and convenience.
Most finders will allow you to find wires and pipes, which is an essential feature.
If you’re not already aware, the power lines and pipes that run through your walls really have no special protection from something like a drill bit or nail.
A nail or bit put in hastily and without hitting a stud can cause a lot of damage or even injury while you’re working on your project.
Burst pipes can lead to extensive water damage even if you get the water off as quickly as possible, and cutting into a live power line comes with a whole host of complications of course.
By using a stud finder, you can make sure you avoid ever having to deal with these issues. Most of them are very unlikely to give you a false reading where power lines are concerned, and by making sure you’re on the stud you can avoid hitting pipes every time.
If you’ve ever tried to hang something heavy, then you know what a pain it can be to find a stud by tapping.
Or maybe you just threw the screws in without thinking about it and found out quite quickly why you’re supposed to hang TVs and heavy pictures from studs when it tore a chunk out of the wall.
Stud finders aren’t always perfect, but once you get the hang of using one you won’t have to worry about either of those scenarios ever again.
What Kind of Stud Finders Are There?
There’s three main types of stud finder that you’ll want to be aware of when you’re trying to pick one out.
Magnetic finders are the oldest type of finder and pretty much all that can be said about them is that they work.
Instead of actually finding the stud, they find nails that are within them. This can be both a long task and something of an inaccurate one, as you’ll have to move around quite a bit in order to make sure you’ve figured out the position.
They’re better than nothing, but if you have the money to get something better then do that instead.
Metal detecting stud finders are kind of a step up from the original magnetic ones.
They’re essentially a handheld metal detector and they find the same kind of things as a magnetic detector.
We haven’t included any in our listing because they’re largely obsolete, but if you’ve used an old, shoddy electronic detector before then they were likely to be of this type.
Ultrasonic detectors can sense wood, metal, live wires, and pretty much anything that’s going on under the surface of the wall. They’re commonly just called electronic stud finders now and they’re the gold standard of the industry.
They range from cheap and relatively effective to extremely expensive models which are suited for construction sites and can read through pretty much any amount of any material.
You should go with one of these if you’re serious about using your finder for any reason.
What Should I Look for in a Stud Finder?
The main thing that you want to do is just buy the best finder you can afford.
Barring that, the minimum for most people will be to get an ultrasonic finder that can find live wires, without this capability you can put yourself in jeopardy in a hurry.
If you know for a fact that you’re not dealing with any live wiring then a magnetic detector is acceptable but think about the following:
A near miss can be much more dangerous than a complete miss, since the wires are generally held to studs and crossbeams.
Once you’ve figured out your budget range, then you can think about the following:
- What materials do you plan on using it on?
- Are live wires present in this area?
- Are pipes present in this area?
- Is there a risk of hitting metal reinforcements when drilling here?
If you can honestly answer no to all of those then the small investment in a magnetic finder might be the best way to go, otherwise make the investment in an ultrasonic finder.
Pretty much any electronic detector will find wiring.
For most homes, the ability to detect ferrous metals is more of a bonus than a necessity but it’s pretty much always paired with the ability to detect the copper piping which makes up most plumbing systems.
Hitting a pipe might be less dramatic than severing a live wire, but it’ll end up costing you a lot more in most cases.
This means that metal detecting abilities are pretty much required in order to do any work in most homes, particularly in kitchens or bathrooms where there’s a much bigger chance of hitting plumbing.
Lastly, you’ll simply have to price out your time. For the most part a cheap finder will work as well as a good one, but it might require four or five times the amount of time to find a stud.
The choice is up to you, but in this area it’s best to go with the best stud detector you can afford.
While a stud detector isn’t the first thing most DIYers think about, it’s one of those essential auxiliary tools you’ll often find yourself wishing you had until you make the plunge. Stick one in your tool box today, and save yourself a lot of time and possible injury.