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best stud finder

5 Best Stud Finders 2019

The purpose of a stud finder is to locate suitable framing studs behind the drywall, which you can then be sure to drill into. They are available in three different types with the main two being magnetic and electronic but there is even an expensive radar type.

The best stud finder is the ProSensor 710 Franklin, which can identify the location of multiple stud simultaneously thanks to deep scanning up to 1.5 inch.

Prices really do vary with stud finders and investing into feature rich device can improve your efficiency. Of course, if you are only going to be using this device to put up some shelves, then the cheaper alternatives will do the job perfectly.

Best Stud Finder For Walls

Stud FinderTypeDepth
ProSensor 710Electric1.5 Inch
Zircon StudSensorElectric1.5 Inch
CH Hanson 03040Magnetic0.5 Inch
DEWALT DCT419S1Electric3.0 Inch
Precision Sensor ProFinderElectric1.7 Inch

If you begin hammering or screwing into a wall without using a stud finder, you may find yourself causing serious damage. In order to hang an object to a wall, you must find suitable areas that contain studs and joists, which can be screwed into.

Some stud finders are suitable for only thin walls but many advanced devices can be used for ceilings and floors too. If you are a serious DIY’er or professional, having a gadget such as this can improve your efficiency as well as reduce potential damage.

Considering the low cost of this device, its is definitely a worthwhile investment that will reduce potential damage. Below is a list of the best stud finders that will help find stud and joists within your walls that are suitable to hang objects from.

ProSensor 710 Precision Stud Finder


The ProSensor 710 is a premium stud finder that is suitable for those simply wanting the best with the latest technology. The 710 model is able to sense the wall in multiple locations and identify the position of multiple studs simultaneously.

Without even looking into the specifications, the design of the ProSensor 710 is wide, which means it can be detect a much wider area compared to most alternatives. It also means the stud location is more accurate when moving it on the wall.

It features bright LED’s for indication and is able to scan deeply into walls at 1.5 inches of depth. Overall, it is the best stud finder you can buy that will precisely locate all studs or joists and works on a range of surfaces.

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Zircon StudSensor Electric Stud Finder


Electronic stud finders are very popular with most woodworkers but finding the best can be hardwork. The Zircon StudSensor is a feature rich electric stud sensor that can detect the edges of wood and provide an alert for any live wires.

It is able to locate the edges of walls to a depth of 0.75 and has a separate deep scan feature that detects up to 1.5 inches. Considering the low costs of this device, the stats are fairly impressive and very similar to the ProSensor 710.

Zircon offer a “WireWarning” detection with this stud finder, which is great but we advise you use this with caution. If you are an electrician, there are many other devices that will do this task with much better performance such as the Dewalt DCT419S1 below.

As a stud finder, it is definitely up there with the best and ticks every box including value for money. With various scanning modes, LCD screen and other features, it is easy to see why this electric stud finder is so popular.

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Precision Sensor ProFinder 6000+


The ProFinder 6000+ by Precision Sensors is an accurate deep sensing stud finder that uses 13 sensor and an advanced multi-sense technology to provide a max detection of 1.7 inch depth.

It is a very similar design to the ProSensor 710 and is just as easy to use with no calibration required. It will detect both wood and metal behind walls as well as displaying stud center and edges simultaneously via a wide 7 inch LED display.

Overall, it is a top rated stud finder that has high performance and offers excellent value for money with the included batteries and pencils. It is cheaper than the ProSensor 710 with very similar performance figures but it does lack features.

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CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder


For those wanting a small and compact stud finder that is also much cheaper than the ProSensor, then the CH Hanson 03040 is ideal. It uses powerful magnets and a 2 way level for marking and requires no batteries.

It is old technology but simplicity is the key ingredient as you will not want to be messing with various features all the time. The magnets form a magnetic connection with the nails and screws, which then provides you with the location of where the studs are in the wall.

The CH Hanson 03040 is the best cheap stud finder and requires very little maintenance as there is no need for batteries. For the average DIY’er, it is ideal but the professional woodworker may find it a bit too basic.

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DEWALT DCT419S1 Wall Scanner


If you think that Dewalt didn’t make a stud finder, you will be wrong as the DCT419S1 is their premium example. It able to detect 5 classes of embedded materials behind wall surfaces and it will automatically map each material simultaneously on the 3.5 inch LCD display.

In terms of the performance of the Dewalt DCT419S1, it is able to detect wood at 1.5 inches and other materials up to 3 inches, which is the best performer within this article. You are able to use this device on wood, drywall, tile, concrete and other materials and achieve excellent results.

It is another excellent tool by Dewalt and includes their 3 year limited warranty but why is it not the most rated you may ask? The answer is that it is a seriously expensive stud finder and unless you are loyal Dewalt buyer, there are many cheaper alternatives that will do the job in hand.

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Stud Finder Buying Guide

Imagine you just bought your first TV, and you need to mount it on the wall. Unless you are living in an unfinished building, finding the best place to mount it on the drywall can be hard, and this is exactly why you need a stud finder.

Thus, a stud finder is a handheld device that enables you to locate the stud in the drywall to mount heavy objects. Remember, as pointed out earlier a stud is an ideal place to mount heavy objects on the wall since the wall cannot support the weight of such objects.

Types of Stud Finders

There are three types of stud finders, though two are most common. The magnetic and electronic stud finders are the most popular models. The radar stud finder is a new advancement that is still being developed, but it is believed to be the most technologically advanced stud finder.

Magnetic: As the name suggests, the magnetic stud finders work by detecting the metal fasteners that are used to hold the studs to the wallboard. In simple terms, this stud finder uses magnets to locate the metal in the wall, thus finding the stud.

The most common object located by this finder is the screws since screws are made of metal and in most walls; screws are used to tighten the wall boards. Remember, one law of magnetism is that as two magnetic objects draw closer, the attraction becomes stronger and this attraction can help you indicate the exact point of the stud.

The magnetic stud finders have one main limitation in that there is a limit to the distance it can detect the metal screws. Scientifically, the greater the distance between two magnetic objects, the weaker the attraction.

Thus, the thickness of the wall (as small as a ½ inch) can limit the detection ability of most magnetic detectors. In most modern buildings, the screws are located about 1/8 inch, making it hard to locate the stud in such buildings using a magnetic stud finder. Further, the stud can hardly detect the stud if the screws are obstructed by either plastic or wood material.

Electronic Stud Finder

Unlike the magnetic stud finders, the electronic uses sensors to detect the location of a stud. The electronic stud finder locates the position of a stud by detecting changes in the relative density of a wall, also known as the dielectric constant.

The exact point of a stud is determined by the area of high density or a lower dielectric constant. The finder also works by inducing an electric current in the drywall, thus resulting in numerous magnetic fields.

It then uses the magnetic power to indicate the exact stud location by detecting the magnetic objects. Since this finder indicates the location of a stud by measuring changes in density, it can be used to locate a stud in a wooden or plastic wall, making it more reliable and superior compared to magnetic stud finder. Further, this finder has several cues to locate the stud, thus does not rely on magnetic power alone.

Sensor Type

As pointed out above, stud finders use two types of sensors to locate the stud; electronic and magnetic sensors. Magnetic sensors are simple to use, don’t require electricity and in most cases cheaper than electronic sensors.

Since the magnetic sensors have limited electronics, they are less prone to breakage, making them more durable than an electronic sensor. Also, magnetic power is freely available, thus you don’t have to pay for batteries.

The main limitation of the magnetic sensor is that they don’t tell the exact location of a stud, but merely the location of the metal piece mainly the screws. This means a lot of guesswork is used in mounting objects on the wall, which can be risky particularly with expensive objects.

Further, these magnetic sensors don’t work in the most modern building which is constructed with complicated sophisticated designs. If the stud is located behind a drywall, then the magnetic sensor cannot work.

Electronic sensors enable you overcame the limitations of the magnetic sensors. Using actual sensors, they point out the exact location of a stud, making them more reliable especially when mounting expensive objects.

Further, the electronic sensors can detect a stud even on wooden frames. They have additional features which enable it to detect the location f the stud in multiple walls, particularly in sophisticated modern buildings.

The limitation of electric sensors is that they use batteries, and are relatively more expensive compared to magnetic sensors. Thus, if you need simple mounting for a simple DIY project, the magnetic sensors can be ideal for you, but for more complicated projects, involving expensive household items, then the ideal sensor is the electronic sensor.

Size and Strength of the Sensor

Imagine moving a stud finder along a large wall trying to locate the stud, this can be quite tedious, especially with a large wall, a wall built of different materials and in a non-familiar house where it is impossible to even predict the probable location of the stud.

Sensors with extra large surface area make the process easier in several ways; one you don’t have to move around with the stud finder. When you place it on the wall, it will scan a larger circumference of the wall, and the LED lights will illuminate brightly when the stud is located.

Further, the large sensors can enable you to locate several studs in one scan, hence saving you the headache of moving around the wall.

The strength of the sensor enables deeper scanning that most sensor. This is ideal for modern buildings where the studs are located up to 14 inches into the drywall. With high strength sensors, you get a deeper penetration power to maneuver most dry walls; build of different materials and of different width.

Center Target Capability

The term 16 on center is very common in most construction projects, and in locating a stud it is just as important. This term refers to spacing on the studs, and the industrial policy is that any stud should land about 16 inches incremental from one end of the wall.

While mounting objects on the wall, finding this center is inevitable since it is the most stable point on the stud, and also because most building regulation bodies expect you to mount heavy objects at this point to improve the overall stability of your house.

While choosing a stud finder, it is important to choose one that can enable you to easily locate the center of the stud. In most cases, stud finders with an advanced electronic feature are the only ones that come with this feature, implying that they could be relatively expensive.

However, this feature is important in indicating the Center of a stud through a simple scan, as opposed to using guesswork to determine the center.

Further, most wall layouts are designed using materials estimated to be 8ft by 16ft. This implies that the center of the stud should be located somewhere between 8ft and 16 ft height of the wall, and this feature formulates the basis upon which to estimate the center and size of the stud, both of which are important when deciding the exact point to mount anything on the wall. This feature reduces the detection and scanning time and space incurred when locating the center of the stud, which improves the overall effectiveness and functionality of a stud finder.

use of a stud finder

Design and Grip

Ease of use is one of the most important features to consider when buying a stud finder. The design should enable a firm grip of the stud while in use. This is because to locate the exact point of the stud, you need to move the stud finder along the drywall.

Whenever possible, look for stud finders with a rubber handle since this gives a firm grip while enabling you to scan over a wider breadth. This is important, especially when trying to locate a stud light switches since the in such areas the stud could be located further than the normal 16-inch distance.

Alert System

Basically, stud finders work by detecting the location of a stud and giving you a signal to point the exact point of the stud. In some advanced finders, the alert system gives both the location of the stud and the center of the stud.

While choosing the best stud finder, you should consider the alert system, or simply put, what signal the finder gives to indicate the location of a stud. The most advanced stud finders come with whistles and bells that indicate the location of a stud, but the most basic ones use vibration, beeps and LED light display to indicate of a stud.

Ideally, the best finders are the ones that offer the most audible signal when it locates the stud, thus reducing your scan time. The more the signals implies a more effective stud finder as compared to one with a few signals since you will not only know the exact point of the stud, but also the center of the stud within a short time.

However, the more the alert systems in a stud finder, the more expensive it tends to be, hence pick a stud finder that has an alert system that is audible enough, but also pocket-friendly.

LED Display

Another important feature when choosing a stud finder is the visual display which in most cases is the LED screen. The display improves the functionality of the stud finder in two ways; the lights illuminate the light or blink when the stud is located.

In most cases, the lights will blink when the stud is in proximity. Also, the LED display lights can tell the thickness of the stud by blinking, thus, the wider the stud, the more the LED lights will blink.

However, the user should have a proper understanding of the stud finder and how it operates before using it. For instance, when one light blinks, that could the edge of the stud, but when multiple lights blink, that could indicate the presence of several studs. In some complex stud finders, the display will also indicate the battery level of the stud finder and condition.

Remember, the visual display is a feature that is common in electronic stud finders only and rarely in magnetic stud finder. The magnetic stud finders indicate the location of a stud by stopping when a stud is located, hence they don’t require a visual display.

The visual display feature is particularly common among electronic stud finders, and also tend to be more superior than magnetic stud finders. However, due to this additional feature, electronic stud finders tend to be more expensive as compared to magnetic stud finder.

Conclusion

As pointed out above, there is no ideal stud finder for all jobs or situations. Every job has its unique needs thus the features of the finder required to complete the job. Hence, understand your job, the unique needs and the specific features of a stud finder that can make your job easier, and find the best finder for the job on your needs.

As a general guide, always understand the functionality of any stud finder before picking the ideal finder for you. The functionality is the biggest deciding factor since different stud finders are ideal for different situations. For instance, if you want to locate wooden studs, the ideal stud finder for you would be an electronic finder due to its complex scanning capacity and extra features. The same applies if you want to find a pipe, live wire any electrical connection. Hence, having a thorough understanding of the different stud finders can make it easier for you to pick the best stud finder for your situation.

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