How to Find Studs Without Stud Finder easy
So you want to install a floating cabinet or mount a flat-screen TV in your room but not sure how to find studs without a stud finder? Well, worry not because we have some tips for you to help you find the wood frames behind your wall so you can install your stuff even without the aid of a gadget. How about the new chandelier you’ve bought but had never been up in your ceiling? For this, we will also help you find a stud in the ceiling so your home interior will look more elegant and warm.
But let’s talk about wall studs first What are wall studs?
Wall studs are the vertical pieces of wood in your drywall that support and provide stability to your house. They serve as the structural support for drywall panels and other types of wall coverings like paneling, tiles, wallpaper or paint. Though they can be found throughout a house, most often these brackets will be seen near ceilings where large loads may hang from them such as lights or ceiling fans.
Wall studs are a type of framing material used in the building industry to construct walls. They come in various shapes and sizes, but typically they measure 2″x4″ or 2″x6″. They can be seen as temporary frames that will eventually be filled with drywall, paneling, or other materials for decorating.
Serving as vertical supports in walls and ceilings that hold the framing together, they come in many different sizes to suit a variety of needs, from load-bearing to partitioning. Studs can be made out of wood or metal depending on what you’re looking for, but they all have one thing in common: holding up your house.
What about the ceiling studs?
Ceiling studs are those small wooden objects that fill the space between two ceiling joists and provide support to the ceiling. They are used to hold up and support the weight of a ceiling, such as drywall or plasterboard, and they provide an anchor point for attaching electrical wiring. Ceiling studs also help to control sound transmission by reducing how much noise is transferred from one room into another depending on where you install them in your home.
They can also be used to mount things like lights, speakers, or other fixtures and come in various sizes and materials including wood, metal, plastic-wood composites, and even foam core board studs for those who are looking for an eco-friendly option.
So the difference between wall studs and ceiling studs is that ceiling studs are a type of wood typically used to support ceilings, whereas wall studs are more commonly found sandwiched between walls to provide support to their structures above and for partitioning large spaces.
How to Find a Stud Behind Drywall
First, let us know what is drywall? A drywall is also called by many names such as plasterboard, sheet rock, wallboard, gypsum board, custard board, buster board, or gypsum panel. Usually manufactured from calcium sulfate dihydrate, it is mainly used in the construction of walls and ceilings as interior walls.
Drywalls are also available in different lengths, thickness, and widths where the standard width is 48 inches while their regular thickness is 1/2-inch and 5/8 for the thickest. When installed and fixed to studs, we can listen to sounds by tapping on drywall. So if you want to know how to find a stud in a wall where drywall is used, these are the best things you could do even without a stud finder.
Study the wall construction.
Houses are built differently based on when they were built. For example, home builders during the early 1900s built their walls using log construction unlike today where we are using 2×4 and 2×6 lumber studs and are commonly spaced between 16 and 24 centers apart.
Find a window or door.
Wall studs are also placed on either side of a door or a window but their location is always based on the floor plan so their placement won’t always be 16-inches apart but almost near this number.
Locate outlets and switches.
You can do what many carpenters do on how to find a stud behind drywall by finding electrical boxes such as outlets or switches which are usually attached to the side of a stud and where the wirings are fixed. The center of the stud could be about 3/4-inch away from the outlet on the side of the stud. This can be your starting point in measuring the 16-inch gaps between the center of the studs.
Look for dimples or small depressions.
These indentations can be found on crown moldings or shoe moldings or baseboards. They can indicate the head of nails or screws that have fixed the wall onto the studs.
Use the knocking method.
How to find a stud in the wall by knocking, this we will discuss below.
How to Find a Stud in the Wall by Knocking
One of the best methods on how to find studs without a stud finder is by knocking. Knocking is the simplest and quickest way to find a wall stud and also one of the most reliable ways if you’re not into using any electronic tool. However, experts suggest that to have a more reliable way to find the position of the studs, you must knock on each side of the wall and listen for that deep solid sound and measure both the wall’s corner to where studs are assumed to be.
Here are the knocking procedures:
Always find your starting point.
As discussed above, your starting point or base for measurement could be the electrical outlets or switches, trims on baseboards, and also corners or windows. To use windows, since all windows will be supported by studs, there will always be studs that you can find on either side of them.
For corners, remember that all wall structures need to be fixed on a stud and you could easily find a stud on the corner of a wall. Once you have found the stud on a corner, this can be your starting point on how to find studs without a stud finder using only the knocking method.
Knocking on the wall.
The technique in using the knocking method is by using your knuckle and bringing your ear near the wall and listening for that dense sound. From hollow to deep solid sound, this can strongly indicate a stud behind the drywall. You can also use a plastic cup and stick its mouth into the wall while your ear is pressed at its bottom then knock. As you hear the solid sound, mark it with tape or a pencil. From here, you will know if the studs’ distances are 16 or 24 inches away.
Calculate the studs distance.
Assuming that you have found your first stud using any of the switch, outlet, window or corner and have marked your base point, you also have to get its center point by tapping around the stud in circles. From this point, use a tape measure and knock on the drywall again about 16 inches away from the first stud. This can assure you that the studs are spaced 16 inches apart.
Use a magnet for assurance.
Magnets can be useful when finding metal inserts behind the drywall and they can be of great help on how to find a stud behind the drywall using the knocking method. Studs are either fixed with nails or screws and because these metals are made of ferrous materials, magnets can also be used as your markers.
Look for indentations using a flashlight.
A flashlight can be one of the most important tools on how to find studs without a stud finder. By bringing its light very close to the wall and looking closely, you may find small indentations or slight bumps on the surface. Then use your knocking technique to be sure. If you hear a deep solid sound, there could be your stud right there.
Knocking on drywall using tools.
Some walls are more solid and thicker than other walls and when wall spaces get filled up with insulating materials, using your knuckle in tapping the wood would not be sufficient to hear that solid sound. So we suggest that you either use the end handle of a screwdriver or the handle of a hammer when tapping such walls sometimes.
How to Find a Stud In the Ceiling
Ceilings, unlike walls, have studs that are horizontally built to support a house’s floor and roof and these are called joists. Joists are supported by beams or girders which are often attached to walls or posts. Typically made of wood, plywood or steel, they provide both weight-bearing and shear strength for your home and they span from wall to wall on either side of the room, with the ends resting on top of the walls or ceiling vertical supports which are called bearing walls.
To provide stability and prevent the joist from sagging under heavy loads, they are often mounted between beams called purlins that span across the width of the building. Ceiling joists also have many other important functions like preventing heat loss by maintaining an airtight seal around exterior walls as well as providing structural support for insulation materials such as fiberglass batts and mineral wool boards.
However, because joists are built high above the floor, how to find a stud in the ceiling can be a bit difficult if you don’t use any tool or just use the knocking method. Knocking on the ceiling can also give you a bit of confidence in finding the stud or joists. Unfortunately, because you will be under the ceiling and your ear may not get near the ceiling, you may perceive a different sound if you knock. In this case, it would be a risk if you want to hang a heavy object on your ceiling if you only use the knocking method in finding the joists.
So here are our suggestions on how to find a stud in the ceiling:
Use a strong magnet
A strong magnet will always stick to any metal that is underneath a thin wood like plywood and most joists are made of plywood materials. Magnets can quickly find screws, nails, or metal plates so once the magnet finds one metal underneath, the next nail can also be about 16 inches away. And by moving the magnet forward and side to side and marking the stick points, you’ll know that you’re on your way to finding all the joists in your ceiling.
Use a stud finder
Another best way to find studs inside the ceiling is by using a stud finder. But what is a stud finder?
Stud finders are devices that are used to detect and locate a wooden or metal stud within an interior wall and they can be your essential tools for any home improvement project. They come in five different types: magnetic, electronic/magnetic, infrared thermography (IRT), radar, and ultrasonic.
Among the varieties of stud finders, magnetic and electronic stud finders are the most common. Magnetic stud finders work by using a magnet that is attached to a flexible arm or rod which can detect if there’s metal behind the drywall. Electronic stud finders use infrared beams or sonic waves to detect objects underneath such as studs, joists, another wall, flooring, ceiling, and so on.
How to Find A Stud in a Wall Using a Stud Finder
Be it wall studs in a wall or joists in ceilings, a stud finder can be of great help. To use it on a wall, you have to slide it from a corner or the side of an outlet until you hear a beep sound or when the lights light up signaling it has found something underneath. Mark the point whenever the indicators go off and most likely the next stud would be about 16 inches away.
To get the center of every stud, you can also move the stud finder left to right and right to left and mark to where the light turns on and off or where the beeping sound starts or ends which indicates the edges of the stud. For every stud, you find you can now mark a straight line going upward indicating the location of a wall stud.
How to find a stud in the ceiling using a stud finder also applies the same principle when finding studs on the wall. But if your ceiling happens to be textured wherein you cannot slide the stud finder smoothly, you can use thin cardboard to move it smoothly along the ceiling.
In summary, the best way to find studs without a stud finder is either by knocking on the wall or using a magnet and you can also use the outlet or light switches as your first base for finding the next studs. Experts also suggest more important tips on how to find a stud in a wall and that is by using a flashlight and finding indentations as well as checking the baseboards for nail marks. But if you want a more accurate assessment when finding wall or ceiling studs, the stud finders could be of great help.
Best Stud Finders Found to Be More Accurate and Easy to Use
There are varieties of stud finders in today’s market but only a few can be reliable but still affordable. Here we made short reviews about two of our favorites:
Professional Stud Finder with Built-in Bubble Level & Ruler
This stud finder uses 13 sensors simultaneously when detecting studs. And because it uses multi-sense technology, you don’t need to calibrate it. All you got to do is insert the batteries, put the gadget on the wall, and by pressing the button, you will activate its sensor. Glide it slowly on the wall and once it detects a solid object like wood or metal underneath, the first light will go off and more light will light up as it glides over the thickness of the stud. At that instance, you can quickly identify the center of the stud as well as knowing its edges. It is also very handy and large that it can be your ideal gadget on how to find studs behind drywall fast and easy.
Stud Finder Sensor Wall Scanner -4 in 1 Electronic Stud Positioner
This 4-in-1 stud finder is not only for finding studs but can also detect AC wires and metals on studs. If you are a home builder or a DIYer who wants to avoid drilling on wires and electrical wiring, this is the gadget you need. It can also find metal pipes, fire lines, steel bars, and supporting beams. If your wall is thick or if the pipe underneath is a few inches away from the drywall, you can also switch to deep scanning and it’s like you’ll have an x-ray vision going on with this gadget. With auto-calibration and ergonomic grip with a green LCD, it can save you a lot of energy and time in finding solid objects underneath the wall. Industry builders commonly have this but despite its more technological advancements, it remains to be very affordable.
Now that you have learned what are wall studs and how to find studs without a stud finder as well as which stud finder can be the best buy in case you want to venture on using science, our next topic would be focused more on how to use stud finders.