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How to Find a Wall Stud

Learn how to find a wall stud with these tips from Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

Whether you’re hanging a picture frame, a mirror, shelves or a TV on the wall, all these heavy objects need to be anchored by a wall stud. Studs are boards that frame your home, supporting the walls. They’re typically spaced 16 inches or 24 inches, measured from center to center, along the walls from floor to ceiling. Studs hold up drywall on interior walls and wood sheathing on exterior walls of your home. They also anchor your home decor and wall-mounted televisions. To find the wall studs in your home, use these tips from Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

How to Find a Wall Stud
Hanging up pictures or shelves? You need a wall stud for the proper support. Learn how to find a wall stud with these tips from Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

How to Find Wall Studs Without a Stud Finder

There are a few different ways you can find studs without a stud finder tool:

1. Use Switches and Outlets – At least one side of the electrical box from outlets and switches is attached to a wall stud. Determine which side is mounted to the stud and measure about 3/4 inches away from the outlet. From that point, measure another 16 inches to find the surrounding studs.

2. Check Out the Trim – Most trim – such as crown molding, baseboards and shoe molding – is nailed to a wall stud. Look at the baseboard for places where the stud would have been nailed. While these dimples are usually filled in with caulk and painted over, you may be able to find where the stud was nailed. If you find one this way, measure 16 inches in each direction to find the surrounding studs.

3. Take Pictures of Open Walls – If you’re building a new home or have the drywall stripped off the walls for a remodel, take pictures of walls before you close them up. You can reference these pictures when you’re looking for studs.

 How to Find Wall Studs With a Stud Finder

If the above methods don’t work (or you just want an excuse to buy a new tool) you can always use a stud finder or sensor.

1. To start, know where the top of the object you’re hanging is going to go and how far down it will be mounted. This is where you want to search for wall studs. Make sure the batteries are functioning and that the flat side of the stud finder is clear of dust and debris.

2. At the determined spot on the wall, hold your stud finder against the wall and slowly slide it to the right – horizontally – while keeping it flat on the wall. When the finder detects a stud it will beep or flash, depending on your tool. Check your owner’s manual.

3. Retrace the area and mark the correct spot with a pencil. With a center-finding stud sensor, it will show you where the edges of the studs are. Mark the edges so you know where dead center is. Dead center is where you will want to drill or hammer into the stud.

4. Once you have the first stud detected, repeat the above steps to find the surrounding wall studs. Brackets, flashing and metal piping can all give false positives for the stud finder so it’s important to find the studs on either side of the one you’re going to use.

At Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you’ll find everything you need for your next home project. We’re your home improvement experts. For more tips on DIY home improvement and project ideas, visit the Blain’s Farm & Fleet blog.


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