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How to Use a Stud Finder: Tips from the Pros

You can have the best stud finder but if you don’t use it properly, you’re still making life hard for yourself. Understanding how to use a stud finder can ultimately save you a lot of frustration and money on repairs. Our Pros actually use these tools quite a bit, and we asked them to share their best practices.

How to Use a Stud Finder at a Glance

  • Check the batteries
  • Find your ideal installation point
  • If necessary, calibrate your stud finder
  • Search for studs to the right and left
  • Mark your drilling point(s)
  • Move up or down the stud and re-check stud locations to avoid false positives

A great example of needing to know how to use a stud finder comes when mounting a TV bracket on the wall. You want to make sure to drill into the studs—not just the drywall. Actually, this goes for any heavier items you plan to mount on your walls. Unless you enjoy replacing both drywall and the object you’ve mounted to it, let the frame of the house support those heavier items. For success, you need to know how to properly locate stud centers.

Which Stud Finder Should I Buy?

You’ll have a better idea of how to use a stud finder when you settle on a model. Stud finders come in many shapes, sizes, and technologies. Some magnetic stud finders like the StudPop locate studs by identifying metal screws and nails in the wood. These won’t necessarily help you find the exact center of the stud, however. Magnetic stud finders range from features on traditional density models, to novel versions that actually “stick” to the wall when they find a screw or nail:

StudPop magnetic stud finder

Our Pros suggest models that read material density. These help you locate the edges of studs, letting you hone in on the center. Of these, we like Franklin stud finders.

How to Use a Stud Finder to Hang Things

Check Your Batteries and Bases

First things first. As with any tool that operates on a battery, you’ll want to make sure to use fresh ones. Weak batteries can give off false readings, and you want accuracy. Also, make sure the contacts on your stud finder don’t have any crud getting in the way of placing them firmly against the wall.

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