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How To Find Studs Behind Drywall (Quick And Easy!)

how to find wall studs behind drywall

How To Find Studs Behind Drywall (4 Quick and Easy Ways)

Trying to find wall studs behind drywall can often times be a pain. Below are a few tried and true methods of how to locate studs. I’m listing these in order of personal preference, based off what has worked for me.

1. Use Your Knuckles To Find Wall Studs

Once you get the hang of this method, it is probably the quickest way to locate a stud. When you knock your knuckles on drywall, it makes a hollow sound. As you continue knocking slowly horizontally along the wall, the hollow sound will eventually turn into more of a solid thud where the stud is located. Often times this differentiation in sounds is obvious. Other times it is nearly imperceptible. But with practice, you’ll quickly be locating studs with just your knuckles.

2. Use A Measuring Tape To Find Wall Studs

Another reliable way to find a stud is to use your measuring tape.  From a corner or end of a wall you can lay out the tape and measure 16 inch increments (Remember, the studs are usually spaced 16 inches on center).  

Bonus fact: the numbers on your tape measure are highlighted red every 16 inches. So no need to count 16 inch increments, its already been done for you! I almost always confirm my measurements by following up with the knuckle knock test.

If you are looking for tips on how to read a tape measure, take a look at my post How To Read a Tape Measure And Understand Tape Measure Increments. It will walk you step by step on how to use a tape measure!

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08/25/2021 06:00 am GMT

3. Using Magnets To Find Wall Studs

Using a magnet to find a wall stud is something I used to do as a kid.  Hang a strong magnet on a string and place it against the wall.  Let the magnet hang and slowly move the string and magnet across the wall until you see or feel the magnet stick to the nails or screws that are holding the drywall in place. You don’t have to use a string, but I have found that I’m able to see the magnet “sticking” to the wall a little easier with the string attached.

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08/25/2021 04:14 am GMT

4. Using A Stud Finder To Find Wall Studs

There is a fairly inexpensive tool out there that is appropriately called a stud finder. This one is towards the bottom of my list though.  I’ve owned a number of different stud finders throughout the years, and have never really been satisfied with any of them.  The idea behind these is that you run them across the wall until an indicator tells you that the finder is over a stud. In ideal situations, these can work, and definitely have worked for me;

However, I have probably had more false readings with these than positive readings.  I’m sure as a result of user error no doubt! But knowing that there can be so many false readings with stud finders, I would highly recommend following up with a knock test, magnet test or confirming with a tape measure.  If all else fails, and you do purchase a stud finder, make sure it uses magnets only to locate the studs.

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Read More: How To Fix a Stripped Screw Hole in Drywall


More Tips And Tricks For Finding Studs Behind Drywall

There are a few tricks you can use to help locate those hard to find studs.  Remember, after locating your first wall stud, all you have to do is use your tape measure to measure out 16 inches to locate additional studs.

Look at the base board trim

Often times the base board trim is nailed into the studs offering a great clue for stud location.

Next to an outlet or Light switch

The boxes that outlets and light switches are contained in are secured to studs behind the drywall.  All you have to do is find out if the stud is on the left or right side of the outlet or switch.  Often time a simple knuckle-knocking can help you figure that out.

Next to windows or doors

Windows and doors are framed into the house using 2×4 studs that run along the side of the window or door and extend the entire height of the wall.  Even though it may not always be 16 inches to the next stud, this can at least be a starting point for you.

Now grab prepare your knuckles or grab a tape measure and go find those studs!

Are you having trouble locating the studs behind your walls?  Shoot me an email.

What are wall studs?

Your house (most likely) is built with wood frame construction. Meaning, the bones of your house are wood.  And on those bones are sheets of drywall that make up your walls and ceilings.  If your home is not wood frame construction, then most likely metal or wood wall studs were still installed behind the drywall.  If not, then instructions for anchoring into brick or cement walls will be in a future post.

Generally speaking, those bones, or studs, are spaced 16 inches apart in homes and 24 inches apart in commercial buildings.  This is not a hard fact, just a generalization that will at least give you an idea of where to start looking for wall studs.

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