Buying Guide

Top 10 Best Stud Finders – The Ultimate Buying Guide

The best renovations are event-free. That is why a good stud finder is crucial. Because if you are guessing what is on the other side of your floors, ceiling, or wall, accidents are very likely.

A stud finder ensures you or your contractor finds the safest spot to drill or hammer for zero headaches and simple home upgrades. So, that big, flat-screen television stays mounted.

In support of your research, we have compiled a list of the 10 best stud finders guaranteed to prevent disaster. All home needs are different, so some featured devices have advanced modes like AC wire detention and deep scanning.

What Is A Stud Finder?

A stud finder, as the name suggests, finds studs hidden in the framework of buildings. Different models detect metal, AC wiring, copper pipes, rebar, and studs. These scanners are either magnetic or electronic to achieve detection.

  • Magnetic sensors. Only pinpoint metal hardware, nails, and screws attaching the covering material to the stud.
  • Electronic sensors. Reveal the location of studs by displaying low dielectric constant readings on an LCD screen.

The Winning Item Of The Best Stud Finder

The Franklin 710 Precision tops our guide on the best stud finders. In comparison to the other devices, this one is quite costly but alerts users of the stud width and location in one hand motion.

With the Franklin Sensor, finding studs is not hard, whether you are a novice or professional contractor. The model speeds up your stud search without hitching to calibrate readings.

You can rest assured of its accuracy too. It is always in deep scan mode to accurately scan surfaces thicker than the average drywall. And although the design is not ergonomic, it handles corners better than most classically shaped models.

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How Were Ratings Awarded?

Not every homeowner will jump at spending so much on the Franklin 710 if they will only use it occasionally. That is where the competition comes in to provide similar accuracy and different advanced features for less.

We chose the best stud finders by comparing the ergonomic design, accuracy, price, grip, number of scanners, and function.

Quick List of The Best Stud Finders

  1. Best Overall: Franklin 710 Precision
  2. Best Magnetic Stud Finder: CH Hanson 03040
  3. Best Live Wire Stud Finder: Travool Sensor Wall Scanner
  4. Best Metal Stud Finder: Zircon MetalliScanner M40
  5. Best Easy To Use Stud Finder: DeWALT DW0150
  6. Best Value Stud Finder: TACKLIFE Upgraded Wall Scanner
  7. Best Floor and Ceiling Joist Stud Finder: Bosch Digital Multi-Scanner GMS120
  8. Best Grip Stud Finder: Jurgen K
  9. Best Edge Locating Stud Finder: Zircon MultiScanner 740
  10. Best Hanging or Hanging Stud Finder: Black & Decker BDL190S

The Complete List of 10 BEST Stud Finders for 2020

Best Overall: Franklin 710 Precision

Specifications :

    • Weight: 9 ounces
    • Dimensions: 7 x 3 x 2 in
    • Number of Sensors: 13
    • Wall Scanning Area: 4-8 sq in
    • Detection Depth: 75-1.5 in / 0.75 in
    • Batteries Required: 2 AA

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Overview:

The Franklin ProSensor 710 is the most accurate and detailed scanner, making it our top choice. Unlike classic models, it uses 13 sensors for trustworthy readings so you can drill with confidence.

You will find the ProSensor 710 relatively convenient because it is capable of detecting multiple studs in broad areas. The length of the product means you can identify the center and edges of wood and metal studs simultaneously as you move along the surface. Then when the LED light flashes, mark the width of the location to know the exact space to work within. However, like most electronic options, it is expensive and provides optimal results.

Pros

  • 90-degree edges fit in corners
  • Detects multiple studs at once
  • No Calibration Required
  • Shows Stud Width

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Big and heavy
  • No batteries included
  • Precise location of stud edges not identified

What we liked:

  • No Calibration Needed: With other models, you will have to wait 1-2 seconds for a reading. If you cannot keep your hands steady or have trouble gliding the device across surfaces, this may skew the success of your project. That said, the Fraklin immediately flashes once it detects the center metal and wood studs.
  • Pinpoints the stud width: Thick and uneven wallpaper, paint, and plaster often cause other devices to fail. However, the bright LED light of the model still illuminates the position and width of studs for an exact working area. This unique feature optimizes the ProSensors 710 for DIY lovers and professionals.

What we didn’t like:

  • Expensive: Although it takes our top spot, the price range is not of much value if you will only use it once, then store it in a miscellaneous drawer.

Best Magnetic Stud Finder: CH Hanson 03040

Specifications
  • Weight: 01 ounces
  • Dimensions: 25 x 0.75 x 3 in
  • Number of Sensors: 1
  • Batteries Required: No
 

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Overview:

If you want accuracy without buying batteries, consider the CH Hanson 03040. The magnetic finder has reliable, earth magnets built-in that are naturally attracted to the metals holding your frames together.

When you have found one nail or screw, confirm the presence of others to locate the stud underneath. It is strong enough to discover metal studs, ductwork, and electrical boxes.

Its strong magnet allows the finder to hang from the identified metal stud hands-free, allowing you to mark the safe drilling spot indicated by the pointed arrow before moving on. Ensuring you do not decorate your walls with holes when hanging photos and plants.

Pros

  • Simple and effective
  • No batteries necessary

Cons

  • Limited to drywall screws and nails

What we liked:

  • Simple and Effective: You cannot help but love the lightweight, simple design. Due to the smallness, you can hang it from a thread and swing the finder along the wall. And the magnets will remain effective in picking up and grabbing onto present metals. Storage also is not an issue. Safekeeping in plain sight like on the refrigerator is possible because it is so tiny and weightless.
  • No Batteries Required: Some electric finders drain batteries fast. Even when not in use, you may discover the battery died after being left in a toolbox for six months. It is a relief knowing you will not need batteries when you spontaneously decide to hang something on your wall.

What we didn’t like:

  • Restricted to screws and nails: The affordability comes at the cost of advanced features. As such, it can only find metals. Beware, though not all metals are holding up studs.

Best Live Wire Stud Finder: Travool Sensor Wall Scanner

Specifications
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Dimensions: 3 x 3.1 x 1.45 in
  • Number of Sensors: 5
  • Batteries Required: 9 V

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Overview:

Electrical wiring has the power to kill you if you hammer or drill into your wall or ceiling when current is flowing through. It is essential to detect where wires are and turn off the power before you start working. To remain safe, when you turn back on the lights use the Travool Sensor to check for wires.

This finder features 5 scanning modes for wood, metal, AC wiring, studs, and object embedded up to a depth of 60mm. The basic mode scans through one layer of drywall, but the deep scan mode observes through two layers. The easy to read LCD alerts users of wiring together with a sound warning system.

Pros

  • Reliable and easy to use
  • Detect AC electrical power
  • Button Holding is Not Mandatory
  • Battery Included in Purchase

Cons

  • Calibrates Every Scan

What we liked:

  • Reliable: The best finders are accurate. Or else, there is no point in using the device as peace of mind is not guaranteed. The Travool consistently indicates the center each time you pass over the same area. And shows you which direction to go if you need to return to the center.
  • The convenience of not holding a button: Some finders require users to hold down the one or two power buttons during use. In such cases, you would have to be mindful of your hand placement to not interrupt or block the scanner. You, like many current users, will find this convenient and helpful when on a ladder.

What we didn’t like:

  • Waiting for results to calibrate: If you are on the clock, the 1-2 seconds of waiting for readings will add up. While homeowners may not mind it is important to pause each time or you will have to rescan spots along the wall, ceiling, or floor.

Best Metal Stud Finder: Zircon MetalliScanner M40

Specifications
  • Weight: 2 ounces
  • Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 7.5 in
  • Number of Sensors: 2
  • Batteries Required: 9 V

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Overview:

If you are looking for the best metal stud finder that is effective and accurate, it is hard to beat the performance of the Zircon MetalliScanner M40. This finder has two scanning positions, pinpoint and wide scan, to easily detect metals.

The detector locates magnetic metal under 4 inches of material, while non-magnetic metal detection has a depth range of 2 inches. When you move the device close to nails, screws, plumbing, or other metal hardware, the LED lights in the coil will change to indicate the precise location.

What sets the Ziron M40 apart is the ability to work with lath and plaster walls – making one of few metal objects under thick layers, including floors and ceilings. Another plus is that the easy to open packaging includes a battery. However, if you are a professional, it would better serve you to invest in the expensive and advanced Zircon MetalliScanner MT6.

Pros

  • Scans through thick walls and concrete
  • Find small metal targets like nails
  • Locates both magnetic and non-magnetic objects

Cons

  • Restricted to metal studs and hardware
  • Requires fully charged batteries for the best results

What we liked:

  • Generates scans for all metal types: Non-magnetic metals pose a challenge to some, but not the M40.
  • Scans through plaster and concrete: Scanning through plater, lath, and concrete is difficult. The M40 fills this void in the market by finding studs in most materials that do not contain metal mesh. Best of all, the sensitivity of the sensors increases when calibrating results a distance away from the metal target. It uses the wide scan to approximate locations then refines search results with the pinpoint scan feature.

What we didn’t like:

  • Limited to one stud material: The biggest disadvantage is the product only works well with metals. So if you already have a wood or plastic finder, this device is an excellent complement to your toolbox.

Best Easy To Use Stud Finder: DeWALT DW0150

Specifications
  • Weight: 8 ounces
  • Dimensions: 88 x 1.3 x 10.25 in
  • Number of Sensors: 1
  • Batteries Required: No
 

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Overview:

Consistency is an issue that the typical stud finder struggles to maintain. Even when some sensors pick up the object the first time, the devices do not recognize the hardware if dragged over it again.

The DeWALT stud finder, on the other hand, consistently finds stud centers. This performance applies for both wood and metal studs located under half-inch and three-quarter-inch drywall.

One other advantage is the curved edges of the gadget that make detection possible at an angle. Additionally, the hand-held machine detects AC wiring reliably well through a half-inch drywall, plaster, and lath. Note that it may not pick up on AC wiring under three-quarter-inch drywall.

Pros

  • One-hand operation
  • Work well on dry and plaster walls
  • Auto-calibration even at an angle
  • Efficient center finding for convenience

Cons

  • Wide detection area

What we liked:

  • Performs well on multiple surfaces: It is rare when a stud finder works on different textures and thicknesses. So, this is a one-of-a-kind achievement for this DeWALT product. That will have DIYers accomplishing projects fast without disaster.
  • Single hand device: The circular window in the middle of the machine is helpful. It allows you to hold the device with one hand. While the other uses a pencil to pinpoint the stud center with ease. We note that the machine weighs the same as a short can of soda, allowing for effortless holding against exteriors.

What we didn’t like:

  • Exact areas of objects not determined: Ambiguity means errors and more work for users. It is quite frustrating to identify the general area of objects like a live wire. Then judge where to begin measuring from rather than having a neat pencil mark indicating the perfect spot to strike the wall.

Best Value Stud Finder: TACKLIFE Upgraded Wall Scanner

Specifications
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Dimensions: 5 x 4 x 1.5 in
  • Number of Sensors: 1
  • Batteries Required: 9 V

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Overview:

This budget stud finder has scanning modes for wood, beam, joist, ferrous metals, AC wires, and objects deep underneath floors, walls, and ceilings. Not all metals are magnetic. The sensor applies to both ferrous and non-ferrous metals to overcome this issue.

Verified reviews often compliment the compact design and the great features offered affordably. Like the Franklin, the calibration is instant for time-saving convenience. This sensor shows green after calibrating. Yellow and red colors with buzzer sound alert users a stud center is near.

It does have its challenges. For instance, the design could use more padding for greater comfort. The good news is this model is the sweet balance between accuracy, inexpensive, and easy to use. Plus, the packing includes the first battery, and it has a 2-year warranty.

Pros

  • Visual feedback provided by the LCD screen, green, yellow, and red indicator lights
  • Soft-back padding to reduce surface damage

Cons

  • Ergonomic grip could be improved
  • Always starts in metal detect mode
  • Thin padding

What we liked:

  • Multiple feedback mechanisms: The stud center signal is unmistakable. So, you know exactly where to drill, and not worry about if you got the feedback here or closer to somewhere else. This mechanism and the price are the best value for first-timers.

What we didn’t like:

  • Programed to start in metal detection mode: If you previously had a sensor, it takes some time to remember the setting begins in metal detection mode. This programming your last mode will be forgotten. If your inspection got interrupted make a note of our mode and area to begin where you left off.
  • Thin felt padding: Present but thin. The felt padding is too small making it hard to maintain the even pressure of a steady grip. Some reviewers complained of marks at the points of use.

Best Floor and Ceiling Joist Stud Finder: Bosch Digital Multi-Scanner GMS120

Specifications
  • Weight: 1 pounds
  • Dimensions: 84 x 5.91 x 1.97 in
  • Number of Sensors: 3
  • Batteries Required: 9 V
 

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Overview:

Equipped with the latest technology, the Bosch GMS120 has three sensor lasers that scan through a wide range of densities, including cured concrete, to reveal the presence of copper, live wire, and wood studs. All thanks to its 4.75-inch scan depth.

The finder’s ergonomic design is comfortable even in the most awkward positions to reach the ceiling or floor. Audible signals accompany the LCD screen for users to note underlying objects.

This feedback system is crucial to make sure there is zero room for mistakes. One hole in the wrong place can cause floors and ceiling to cave in. If you do not love the center finding capabilities or precision, the manufacturer offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and 1-year warranty.

Pros

  • Multi-scanning options
  • Great for indoor and outdoor projects

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Detects a lot at the same time
  • Warranty only valid in the USA and Canada

What we liked:

  • Unlimited project applications: If you have repairs to do on thick material, the deep scanning mode evaluates generous densities. Whether you want to screw down squeaky floorboards on stairs or the porch, the Bosch GMS120 is the tool for the job.
 

What we didn’t like:

  • Multiple object detections simultaneously: Building with a complex framework like wiring and plumbing together or nearby makes the device send off multiple signals at once. This data is confusing to interrupt. We recommend avoiding choosing your renovation point away from these stuffed cavities.
  • Country restricted warranty: Having a faculty product shipped to you outside the USA and Canada is rather unfortunate. Hopefully, you catch the defect early and can receive a refund within the 30-day guarantee.

Best Grip Stud Finder: Jurgen K

Specifications
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Dimensions: 4 x 3.4 x 1.8 in
  • Number of Sensors: 5
  • Batteries Required: 9 V

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Overview:

It’s important to know if the space behind the wall or ceiling joint is hallow before you begin your big or small renovation project.

Whether it is a metal, stud, ceiling joint, or AC wire, the Jurgen K will beep to indicate the presence of an object. A brilliant aspect is the ability to scan in-depth for various materials. It detects live, unshielded electrical wiring 2 inches or 51mm deep.

Plus, you will not be surprised by a dying battery at your next use. The low battery indicator alerts you that the machine is running low on power. Of mention is the fact that most textured wall complaints were alleviated by reading the manual.

Pros

  • Large, backlit screen
  • Includes a battery
  • Good AC finder mode
  • Sturdy grip

Cons

  • The included battery does not last long
  • Calibration necessary before every measurement

What we liked:

  • Good stud detector: Easy to use and inexpensive to replace. The Jurgen K helps users identify studs and AC wiring as well as indicates the depth of each. You cannot miss the sound it makes when directly over the stud center.
  • Large, backlit screen: As you pass over the backing, you can see the edges of studs and other obstructions as you slide across the surface.

What we didn’t like:

  • Calibrated readings: Each calibration only takes 1-2 seconds, but you will have to remember this before moving on, or the reading will fail. This processing is necessary because it has several settings for different wall thicknesses. After a second or two, slide across to another area and continue your evaluation.

Best Edge Locating Stud Finder: Zircon MultiScanner 740

Specifications
  • Weight: 8 ounces
  • Dimensions: 5 x 4 x 2 in
  • Number of Sensors: 1
  • Batteries Required: Yes

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Overview:

An audio warning in conjunction with flashing LED lights often indicate the location of objects. The Zircon 740 goes further using a signal strength indicator to help users differentiate between shallow and deep targets.

This edge finder is complete with several helpful features such as auto-correction technology, deep scanning, and a low battery indicator. These features mean fewer human errors and unexpected device powering off for you.

The odd “floating head” design keeps the device leveled on any surface, especially troublesome textured and rough walls and ceilings. Users are pleasantly surprised to discover that all four scanning modes work well at detecting studs, metals, and live, unshielded AC wires. Unfortunately, holding a button firmly to prevent accidental turn offs is awkward.

Pros

  • Electrical wire warning system
  • Backlit LCD
  • Integrated marking system
  • Locates stud centers and edges with ease
  • Auto-correcting and calibration tool

Cons

  • Bulky design
  • Battery cover hard to close
  • Awkward power button

What we liked:

  • AC wiring detection: All the scanning modes detect electrical wiring. This specification ensures maximum safety for users and incident-free projects.
  • Precise stud edge and center locations: We like the time-saving operation. The Zircon 740 goes beyond the norm to help users find the stud center as well as the edge. Taking the work and estimating out of confirming the approximate length.

What we didn’t like:

  • The Power Button: Sometimes, holding is this light device requires two hands. One to firmly press the power button, the other keeps it in place against the surface. This design flaw makes ceiling checks a two-person job. Thankfully, the model has a push-button wall marker. To prevent you from struggling with making pencil marks as you hold the machine.
 

Black & Decker BDL190S BullsEye

Specifications
  • Weight: 16 ounces
  • Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 1.9 in
  • Number of Sensors: 1
  • Batteries Required: 2 AA

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  1. Black & Decker BDL190S BullsEye Auto-Leveling Interior Line Laser with Stud Sensor

Specifications

  • Weight: 16 ounces
  • Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 1.9 in
  • Number of Sensors: 1
  • Batteries Required: 2 AA

Overview:

If you have decorative projects, never will you have to wonder if that photo is crooked. The Black and Decker BDL190S is precise, giving you Bullseye results for even, horizontally hanging, and mounted objects.

Beyond finding wood and metal studs, the finder detects live AC wires with an LCD that is easy to read. The gadget is also complete with two functions: a stud finder and laser leveler.

The device has a 4.4 rating on Amazon at the time of writing, with one verified buyer describing it as almost perfect. If you are upgrading from the older version, a positive is it now requires 2 AA batteries, not 9V batteries. The negative is there is no nylon case to secure its smaller size.

Pros

  • Easy to read LCD
  • Ideal for hanging and mounting
  • Levels automatically without adjustments

Cons

  • Made in China
  • Some inaccuracies when scanning
  • Laser does not work vertically

What we liked:

  • Auto-Leveling Feature: The laser is bright and convenient. It only stretches so far, so the auto-leveling feature is good at readjusting when you move around the room. This way, the line is always consistent.

What we didn’t like:

  • Made in China: We would rather pay more for the product to return jobs to the USA, which would support Americans and their families.
  • Restricted to horizontal lines: The replacement of the Black and Decker logo with a level bubble could enable the gadget to aid vertical mounting projects. Some users also do not trust the laser because it lacks a level bubble. They chose to double-check the laser line with a manual leveling tool.

What To Look For When Buying A Stud Finder?

  • Sensor Type

Most commercial buildings have metal or plastic studs, while homes have wooden studs. Manufacturers often calibrate basic stud finders to find specific stud types within a certain thickness range. So, consider the material and location of the stud.

You may also want to take into account the need for batteries and price. Electronic field sensors are usually more expensive and need batteries, but magnetic sensors are more affordable and do not require external power.

  • Grip Design

Remember, you need to move the stud finder along a solid surface. So, smooth, uninterrupted motion is ideal to avoid false readings. Simple designs with an ergonomic structure like rubber grip padding are the most comfortable to hold.

  • Center Targeting Function

Since the center of the stud is better for fastening, some advanced electronic sensors include this helpful feature to help you find it. With a basic model, you will have to guess based on the location of nails and stud edges.

  • Additional Features

Additional features are pretty expensive and common among electric stud sensors. Besides live wire detection, there can be an audible warning noise and light displays above the scanner to mark the exact spot for drilling.

Why Do You Need A Stud Finder?

Well, because without x-ray vision, you need a device to find the load-bearing structural support of your building. Otherwise, you could pierce pipes or wiring or have heavy objects suddenly collapse.

How to Use a Stud Finder?

Here is the general procedure. Be sure to read your manual, though, as manufacturer procedures vary.

  1. Turn on

Insert batteries into the device. Power on and choose the desired scanning mode.

  1. Scan

Lay the device flat against the wall. Keep your hand steady, then press and hold the button for 1-2 seconds. Or until you hear a short beep sound and the loading bar on the LCD screen clears to indicate calibration is complete.

  1. Check the Surrounding Area

Before you declare success at finding the right spot, hold the button. And slowly drag the stud finder along the area for a thorough scan.

  1. Conduct Your Renovation

Beeps and LCD screens, if available, signal the detection of an object. When you have located a safe area, begin your home upgrade project.

Watch this how-to video for a quick tutorial:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I find studs behind a tiled wall?

Yes, but getting precise readings are difficult. We recommend using an advanced scanner with multiple modes.

Kitchen and bathroom tiled walls typically have a lot going on underneath, such as gas pipes, water lines, and live wires. A regular scanner with only a stud scan or deep scanning mode will not accurately assess everything beneath the tiled surface.

  1. I believe there are electrical wires. Why does the stud scanner not identified any?

Despite advances in technology, it is still hard to locate live wiring.

Electric field scanners will not reveal anything if the wires are in concrete, behind a plywood shear wall or metal panel, more than 2 inches from the surface, encased in conduit, or if moisture is present.

We recommend using the metal scan mode or a magnetic sensor to discover metal conduits, metal, or wires. Before penetrating the surface, always turn off the electricity, water, and gas as an extra precaution.

  1. Why does the stud finder blink or beep when I press the power button?

This blinking or beeping occurs when the battery charge is low. Scanning requires robust power, especially in models with backlit LCD screens. Replace dying batteries with a new battery fitting the manufacturer’s requirements.

  1. How do I change the batteries?

Battery changing for most electronic devices do not require unscrewing. Like you would your remote, unlatch the raise section of the finder following the direction of the indentation.

  1. What is the difference between wire warning and AC scanning?

In addition to the scanning for studs and metals, the wire warning feature alerts you to the presence of live, unshielded, electrical AC wires. But AC scanning narrows the general location of live wires.

Conclusion

We hope this list of the best stud finders was helpful.

Since no two walls, floors, or ceilings are alike. Each recommendation is perfect for different situations to ensure safety when puncturing your surfaces.

Our overall best pick is the Franklin Sensor ProSensor 710 Stud Finder. This device is excellent because of its accuracy.

If you are only looking for nails and screws, go with the CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder.

Keeping in mind that precision is the difference between a successful renovation or a costly error. We recommend investing in one of our top picks to balance affordability and accuracy.

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