What Are Wall Studs why should i care ?
What are wall studs? Let’s say you want to hang a large painting on your wall but you’re worried your nails or screws won’t hit a wood or metal support behind the wall and your precious painting might fall, those wood frames behind the walls are what we call the wall studs.
A wall stud is vertical support that helps to keep the exterior walls of a building from collapsing. Typically made of wood or metal and can be found in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, its purpose for support is to provide stability for the weight that’s on top of it. Wall studs are formed inside the walls to carry the whole weight of the wall. Home builders follow the general standard for wall studs spacing which is 16 inches (40 cm) or 24 inches (60 cm) apart depending on the height of the wall and the load it carries.
Wall studs are usually secured to the ceiling, floor and walls. Having a floor plate, head plate and vertical studs, it can also enhance the shape of the homes and insulate them if these are filled with insulators. To identify the best functions of the wall studs, check these out:
What are wall studs and their functions:
It can provide structural stability to buildings by keeping them from falling apart.
They can be used as a way to measure how much space is between two walls.
It can provide extra spaces if you need extra rooms or if you want to divide a huge space.
They can carry vertical structural loads or function as non-load bearing structures for partitioning walls like dividing spaces.
Used as main supports for windows, interior finish, doors, exterior sheathing or even for siding.
For keeping insulation materials and utilities in place while giving shape to the walls of the building. It can provide holding support to buildings from getting lifted due to strong wind or during the earthquake by fastening the walls to the floor with the wall plates.
What Should Be the Proper Distance for Wall Studs Spacing?
Is there a proper distance for wall studs spacing? Why is it necessary that a certain distance should be met? This is the question that many people ask when they start to create their homes.
Wall Studs spacing is necessary to help us identify where we could put nails or insert a screw so that these metal inserts could get a solid hold from within. But what should be the proper wall studs spacing?
A common rule-of-thumb is that when there are two adjacent studs in your house (e.g., one behind your kitchen cabinets and one behind the dining room cabinets), they should be spaced 16 inches apart from each other with 2×4 lumber. However, this rule does not apply if you’re using plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) sheathing on either side of your studs.
To measure the proper wall studs distance between wall studs, the most common way is by measuring from the side of one stud to the side of another. This distance should be at least 16 inches, excluding any doors or windows, and should only be used as a guideline for spacing purposes.
However, many factors can affect this such as there may be a need to increase the spacing if your walls are covered with thick drywall or plaster and you have steel lath underneath it. Wall studs spacing will also depend on the weight of materials you’re hanging from them.
If you are building your home and want to make sure you will follow the proper studs distance, you may want to check your city’s building code to get an answer. In some countries like the United States, the National Home Builders Association has established what’s called the IRC (International Residential Code) which includes minimum requirements for wall studs spacing such as two inches between studs in exterior walls, 12-inch on-center spacing in interior load-bearing walls, and 24-inch on center spacing in non-load bearing walls.
How About the Wall Studs Dimensions?
Wall studs are the vertical members of a wall that support the wall’s weight. They may be made of wood, metal, or plastic and typically measure 2×4 and 2×6 inches in size. Wall studs provide structural support and insulation for walls as well as help keep moisture from seeping through the exterior surface.
The best way to find out what your home’s wall stud dimensions should be is by getting a professional opinion from an architect or builder. This will ensure that your home is built according to local building codes and regulations so it can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes with minimal damage to structures like windows, doors, roofs, floors and so on.
However, if you already know your local building code requirements for building a wall, you can also go for your own measurement and create the right wall studs dimension. So how do you determine what size wall studs you need for your project?
To figure out the wall stud dimensions, you can follow this guideline:
The typical wall studs dimensions today are the 2-by-6 and 2-by-4 or simply 2-inch thick by 6-inch wide and 2-inch thick by 4-inch wide lumber. To calculate the length of the stud when building a standard wall, for a wall that’s 8 feet high, the length of the studs should be 7.75 feet or 92 5/8 inches.
For a 9-feet wall, the length of the studs should be 8.72 feet or 104 5/8 inches. For a 10-foot wall, the length of the studs which are usually pre-cut is 9.72 feet or 116 5/8 inches. Why the lengths of the studs are influenced by the height of the wall is because single bottom plates and double top plates are also used on the studs’ ends which also have their particular measurements. These plates serve as the wall support and they run perpendicular to the studs and to which the lumber studs are fixed or nailed.
Some home builders also follow different patterns when calculating wall studs distance aside from the 16-inch spacing like 24-inch spacing. Accordingly, this is more economical and can save you a lot of resources and safer. Using 2×6 timbers, the 24-inch spacing is best for residential construction and has stronger configurations. Compared to 2×4 studs, if you will go for the 24-inch spacing, the same strength can be achieved but the walls should not be less than 9 feet tall and the loads should not be too heavy.
How to Calculate Wall Studs Spacing and Studs Needed
If you want to calculate wall studs distance as well as how many studs you need for certain lengths of walls, here are steps you can do considering this includes using vertical studs in between and there are the bottom plates and top plates. Remember that studs are generally positioned on 16-inch centers and this is calculated by taking the center lines of each stud:
Consider the length of the stud wall you want to create. Let’s say you want to build a 16-feet long wall stud.
Do the conversion. Start by multiplying 16 feet to 12 inches (12 inches = 1 ft) and you’ll get 192 inches.
Compute the gaps. Since you’ll need wall studs spacing of 16-inch gaps between each stud, divide the total length of the wall by 16 inches so 192/16 is 12 inches. Now, having 12 spaces in the wall also equals the number of studs you need which is also 12. Moreover, you should have an extra stud right at the end of the wall to where the cover board would be nailed so you still need to install a total of 13 studs.
Now, since the wall studs are vertically nailed for support, you may also need to install noggins in between the studs just for extra support. Noggins are used to support timber stud frames or to brace floors. Generally made of timber, some noggins are made of metals.
How to Locate Wall Studs and Check for Wall Studs Distance
Finding a stud wall is not difficult and you only need a few techniques to find either the stud or the metal that fixes the studs. There are few techniques you can do and you might also have heard about the “stud finders.” These handy devices are used by professionals and DIYers alike to identify the positions of interior wall studs. Moreover, we will also teach you how to find studs without a stud finder.
So let’s now talk about how to check for studs in the wall without using any gadget. You can find very useful information about these on YouTube and can have tips from expert home builders.
Here are some of the practices that carpenters and home builders apply with and without using a stud finder.
Locate electrical outlets
Studs are generally positioned near electrical outlets and sometimes next to light switches. Once you find an outlet, you know that these are fastened to studs. To double-check, remove the cover of the outlet or the light switch then use a flashlight and look inside.
Normally, you will see that the screws of the outlet are fixed at the vertical beam of the stud. You can now use a ruler to draw a straight line from the outlet point and to where the stud stands and mark the point to where you want to insert a nail or screw.
Since you’ve found a stud to where the outlet is attached, you can now apply the 16-inch or the 24-inch wall studs distance rule by measuring a point perpendicular to the left or right from the center of your stud using a tape measure. But if you want to make sure you’ll find the stud more accurately, apply our next tip.
Tapping the wall and checking by sound
Tap the wall and listen carefully where the sound changes from hollow to solid sound. To start with, measure from the corner of the wall 12 inches, as well as 16 inches and also 24 inches. We do this to find the first stud. So if you’ve found the first stud, for example, 12 inches from the wall, the next stud would be 16 inches away and the next wall stud distance would also be 16 inches. The same when you find a stud 24-inch away from the wall, the succeeding studs would also be 24 inches away from each other.
Using a flashlight
You now need to use your vision to find wall studs and wall studs distance. Using a flashlight very close to the drywall, scan the wall carefully and slowly and look for small indentations like dimples or bows. These could be the heads of the nails or screws. To be sure, tap also the drywall around the dimple and also from left to right and right to left and listen if the sound changes.
If you are sure that you’ve found the head of a nail or screw, mark it with a pencil or an electrical tape then use a tape measure and see if you can find the next stud about 16-inch or 24-inch away from your mark or from the line that is aligned from your mark.
Use a magnet
They say that the small magnets are the best options when finding wall studs dimensions and wall stud spacing because magnets are attracted to metals and nails and screws are made of ferrous metals. You can buy small magnets from hardware stores or you can also take the magnets out from your refrigerator magnetic stickers but at least you need about 3 of these.
Hold the first magnet very close to the drywall and once it got stuck, you know that there is a metal insert that’s under the drywall. Let the magnet stays there then about 16 inches or 24 inches away, do the same thing with the second magnet moving it up and down and in circles until it finds another metal to stick on to. You can also do the same thing with the third magnet to make sure the wall studs spacing is accurate. You can now draw straight lines from each magnet assuming that each magnet found the center of each stud.
Use a stud finder
Stud finders are electronic gadgets that are designed to find studs and metals underneath the walls. It can show you accurately where the stud is located and different technologies go with different stud finder varieties.
Some use capacitance in sensing the solid objects beneath the wall, others can sense dielectric constant in detecting metals and the more advanced types use radar or radio waves to estimate the density of the objects behind the wall.
Stud finders can be very useful if you want a more accurate search for studs especially with thick walls that make tapping irrelevant or if there is no electrical outlet to use as a base point. How to use a stud finder can be very easy and here are the ways to use them.
Make sure the batteries of the stud finder are properly charged or better install new batteries.
New or used stud finder, calibrate first the gadget before using it by pressing the button on a flat wall and zero the gauge.
After calibrating, slide the stud finder along the surface of the wall slowly until you hear a beep or see a red light indicating that you have found something metallic or something dense underneath.
Mark where you’ve found the stud with chalk, pencil, or whatever else is available to make sure that you can find it again.
Slide the gadget left and right a little from where your mark is to find the edges and center of the stud.
Slide the gadget from left to right or from right to left to find the other studs and mark each point of detection. Remember if the wall studs spacing is by 16 or 24 inches.
Since you have found the studs underneath your wall, you can now hammer a nail or drive in a screw to hang your picture or other items you want to hang.
Now that you know what are wall studs and learned practical tips about how to check for studs in the wall and finding wall studs spacing, go ahead and you don’t have to worry about hanging your picture anymore. So findings studs on your wall can let you use your wall to your advantage as well as letting you decorate it with attractive things.
For our next articles, we will be discussing more about how to find studs without a stud finder and more details on how to use a stud finder for your convenience. We will also review some of the best stud finders in the market especially the affordable but more reliable units.