Mounting wall shelves and picture frames is a relatively simple task that should look effortless by design, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. If the object you’re hanging up has any substantial weight to it, it’s essential to ensure that the screws are entering a wall stud behind your plaster or drywall for it to be truly secured. Keeping the right stud finder in your toolbox doesn’t only save you time and prevent you from accidentally punching holes in the wrong place, it also practically guarantees that your shelf or large artwork won’t come crashing down at some inopportune time. Some models simply detect wood and metal studs and others can locate electrical wiring, but they all play an essential part in any well-rounded home-improvement arsenal.
Below, some of the best stud finders currently on the market.
Find out if it’s wood or metal. Amazon
This electronic stud finder from Tavool can detect studs, pipes, and live wires behind up to 1.5 inches of drywall and plaster and notifies you with visual and audio cues. It comes with a Deep Scan mode for even thicker surfaces, and can tell you the material of the studs, as well as where their exact centers lie. It’s outfitted with an ergonomic grip, which makes it great for projects that require more than one scan in a single go. If you’re moving into a new place, this is an option to consider.
Deep scan by default. Amazon
Franklin Sensors offers this unique stud finder that uses 13 separate detectors to scan your wall and a series of bright LEDs to show you a visual depiction of a stud’s exact position and width. It’s designed to scan surfaces up to 1.5 inches thick and can work on irregular surfaces from poorly painted walls to lumpy wallpaper. It excels at locating more than one stud at a time, too, making this a good option for older homes or spaces with unconventional construction.
USB chargeable. Amazon
This stud finder can perform all the conventional duties of an electronic unit and then some, thanks to its laser-guided measurement function. In addition to detecting stud material, depth, and live wiring behind your wall, it can measure the size of interior spaces, including wall height, width, and diagonal length, making it an especially useful choice if you’re handy and looking to build onto your wall in addition to traditional mounting. Because it uses a laser to measure distances, it’s also way more accurate than a traditional measuring tape.
Compact with a soft grip. Amazon
This portable and powerful stud finder from CH Hanson is a capable choice for light wall-mounting tasks or helping friends out with their home-improvement projects on the go. It’s three inches high and can easily fit in the palm of your hand or your pocket, and it uses strong magnets to pinpoint screws, nails, and metal studs inside walls up to an inch thick. The onboard bubble level and pencil hole make for an easy way to mark your walls while you’re working, too. Given that it doesn’t require batteries, you can use it whenever the need arises.