How to Find a Wall Stud Without Using a Stud Finder

Highlights

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5. Drill a hole

No matter which method you use, you should always confirm your findings before proceeding to hang your piece. To do so, drill a hole in the wall. You’ll know you’ve hit wood (a stud!) if you feel resistance.

Check Out the Baseboards to Find a Stud

In about every home the wall and floor are separated by the baseboards. These baseboards should always be attached by being nailed to the wall studs. So the objective here is to study the baseboards and see if we can identify where the baseboard is nailed. When we identify where the nails are then this will give us the ability to find the stud. While trying to find where the baseboard has been nailed keep in mind the nails might be covered with paint or caulk to try and hide where the nails are. So make sure you are really reviewing the details of the baseboard to locate where the nails to the studs are. Details on using the baseboard to find a stud starts at the 2:15 mark of the video below.

1. Look at the trim for where it has been nailed to a stud

Since the baseboard is attached to the studs, inspect the baseboard and try to determine where it has been nailed. These holes, called dimples, are usually filled with caulk and then painted, but you may be able to spot one to identify the whereabouts of a stud. If you find a dimple, measure in 16-inch increments to locate studs to each side of it.

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Use a Magnet

Another method is using a magnet – pull one off your fridge and graze it zig-zag style on your wall. If the wall is drywall, carpenters use drywall screws to secure the drywall in place on studs. Wherever the magnet sticks to the wall, you’ve found a drywall screw…and a stud! Lucky you.

Most Common Stud Spacing

A 16-inch stud spacing is much more common and is what you will likely find in any modern home. You might find 24-inch in older homes and single-story houses. Walls with air ducts may also use 24-inch spacing, but the rest of the house will probably use 16-inch spacing.

When All Else Fails Use a Electric Stud Finder to Find a Stud

So we have tried every method known to man and we

So we have tried every method known to man and we are still making holes in our walls where we do not have a stud. Well this may be the time to bite the bullet and go buy an electronic stud finder. There is no shame in keeping one handy in the house. I’m sure you will be hanging things on the walls for decades and you will get more than enough use out of it.

3. Measure 16 inches from the corner

With studs generally 16 inches on center, you can also do calculations by measuring from a corner of the room. Now, all rooms aren’t built in numbers divisible by 16, so you are likely to have a stud that is less than 16 inches from one corner.

Try the “knock test” near the corner to see if you can determine where the shorter stud spacing might have been added. A hollow sound when you knock indicates that there’s nothing behind the drywall, while a more solid sound would suggest that there’s framework there to screw into.

This only really works if you’re measuring a corner of the exterior of the house. But it’s worth a shot before you go crazy with the test holes, wondering how far apart the  studs are in your walls.

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7. Try a stud finder app

Today, there’s an app for just about everything — and that includes finding studs. Most stud finder apps are magnetic, which means they rely on your smartphone’s built-in magnetometer to pinpoint metal objects inside the wall. While this can help you find a wall stud, it can also turn up a false positive, since the app may detect things other than studs, like nails or electrical wires, says Rothman.

1. The old fashioned method

You’re going to use a nail and a hammer. Drive the nail into the wall at various points, maybe every few inches until you strike a stud. It’s not a very elegant way of finding a stud without a stud finder, but it gets the job done. This is one way you could do it. Don’t worry, I’ll get to the better solutions in a second.

How do I find a wall stud?

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If you are looking to hang a picture and don’t have the time or budget to pick up a stud finder, it’s not hard to locate them yourself by following just a few steps.

Start at one corner and measure out 16 inches. Knock on the wall at the 16-inch mark. If it sounds hollow, you will need to continue to the next step. If it sounds solid, you found your first stud, and there will be another every 16-inches to the other corner. If the wall sounded hollow at 16 inches, pull the tape measure out to 24 inches and try again. This time you should not hear the hollow sound, and the solid thump will let you know you have found the stud. There will be another stud every 24-inches to the other corner.

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Examine the baseboard for nails or outlets. The baseboard is nailed to studs, and outlets are usually attached to the sides of studs as well. Higher up the wall, electrical switches are also generally mounted on the sides of studs.

3. Examine the baseboard

The baseboard is the board mounted on the studs, and generally speaking, things like lamps, photos, or other things that hang from the wall are mounted on a stud. Use this to your advantage to find the studs without a stud finder.

What Can I Do Without a Stud Finder?

If you don’t have an electronic stud finder, you can locate studs with nothing more than a table lamp. Remove the shade, turn on the lamp and hold the bare bulb 10 to 12 inches away from the wall. Look for the silhouettes of nailheads or drywall tape as the side light skims the surface of the wall; you should find a stud directly behind the nailheads or tape. Then, look for the additional studs nearby.

Make Like a Woodpecker

As a last-ditch plan, you can drill tiny holes in a horizontal row until you find a stud.

Never fear you are dependent on a stud finder to get the job done. Using one or several of the above methods, you can almost always locate a stud on your own.

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