Skip to main content

How to find studs in walls if you don’t have a stud finder

These simple DIY methods will help you locate the studs

floorplan and tools on wooden surface / Pexels

You’ve likely come across one or two projects that require the use of a stud finder. Whether you’re hanging heavy artwork or anchoring furniture to the wall, knowing exactly where your studs are located is necessary. But what should you do if you don’t have a stud finder?

Here are a few methods on how to find studs in walls without a stud finder.

Recommended Videos

What is a wall stud?

woman posing by a house stud frame being constructed
Vika_Glitter / Pixabay

The interior structure of your walls is made up of wooden frames. The vertical boards of these frames are called drywall studs. Wall studs are typically 2-by-4 pieces of wood positioned roughly 14 1/2 inches between each stud or 16 inches apart from the center of each board. These vertical frame pieces are used to mount drywall and provide more structure to your walls.

When should you hang something from a wall stud instead of drywall?

Wall-mounted TV with entertainment center below
Keith Muratori / Shutterstock

Not everything needs to be hung on a wall stud. In fact, you can hang most paintings, picture frames, mirrors, and other wall decor with a nail or screw in the drywall. Some more fragile or heavy items can be hung with drywall anchors and screws.

However, for shelves holding heavier items, oversized wall mirrors, TV mounts, and other bulky pieces, anchoring your screw into a wall stud can provide more stability. This can also help prevent drywall damage in case your heavy item falls or weighs down the drywall material.

Methods on how to find a stud in the wall

Person using drywall tape to repair drywall
schankz / Shutterstock

If you don’t have a stud finder, there are a couple of methods you can use to find the studs in your walls.

Tap the wall

The tapping method is a simple DIY hack for finding wall studs. Lightly tap your wall with your finger or knuckles where you want to hang your item. If the sound is hollow, move further left or right until the sound is solid. Once you’ve identified a stud, measure 16 inches away and knock on the wall to verify the presence of the next stud.

Use an outlet for better spatial judgment

Most light switches and electrical outlets are mounted to the side of a stud. While there are some instances where this isn’t the case, it’s less common. Tap on the left and right of the outlet to determine which side of the stud the box is on. Then, use the tapping method above to map out the other studs.

Try using a magnet to find fasteners

You can also use a magnet to find drywall fasteners. Drywall is attached to studs via drywall screws and fasteners. Since they’re metal, strong magnets can still detect them despite the fasteners being covered with drywall mud. When your magnet catches a fastener, this marks the middle of the stud. Move 16 inches left or right to verify the presence of another stud with the same magnet technique.

Use a flashlight and find dimples in the wall

Little dimples can appear on the wall where the drywall mud settled into the fasteners. When the lights in a room are off, a flashlight can find these dimples, indicating the presence of a stud.

Measure from the corner of the room

Most rooms have wall studs in the corner. Knowing this, you can measure 16 inches from the corner to identify additional studs. However, every home is different, so you may want to pair this method with another one we’ve already covered.

Try using a stud-finder app

Some apps today have stud finder technology, making it easier to find wall studs without rushing to buy a stud finder from the store. Again, you may want to verify the presence of a stud with a method from above, but this can be an easy option.

While it can be useful to purchase a stud finder from the store, particularly if you plan to do fuller renovations or want to continue updating your space in the future, sometimes finding a stud is a once-in-awhile kind of incident. These DIY methods are easy and affordable options if you don’t plan to use a stud finder often.

Editors' Recommendations

Amelia Wilson
Amelia Wilson (author pen name Amelia J. Wilson) is a content writer in Greenwood, IN. She often enjoys topics on…
3 things to know about homemade laundry detergent so you don’t ruin your clothes
Consider these factors before using homemade laundry detergent on your clothes
Close-up of a woman holding a wicker laundry basket with white clothes

A full closet of freshly cleaned clothes is delightful. A bed neatly made with crisp, just-washed sheets is divine. Is there anything quite like freshly clean laundry? You may purchase your go-to laundry detergent from the store every so often, but maybe you're wondering about homemade laundry detergent.

There's a lot of talk out there about the health, environmental, and savings benefits of making DIY laundry soap, but is it really safe and effective? Let's dive into what you need to consider before making your own laundry soap - and what you need to make it the right way.

Read more
Costco snacks you won’t find anywhere else
Stock up on these party snacks during your next Costco trip
People eating popcorn

If you’re a seasoned Costco member, there’s a chance you have certain favorite snacks that you have to go to Costco to buy. But if you’re a new member of the wholesale retailer, you might still be learning which Costco snacks you like. 

Well, there are definitely some delicious snacks that are either exclusive to Costco or extremely limited elsewhere. Whether you’re having guests over or just want to stock up on party snacks, here are some Costco snacks that you won’t find anywhere else.

Read more
The house maintenance tasks homeowners think first-time buyers should know
A few considerations when buying your first home
try these 11 bathroom diys you can do in one hour plumber

Buying a home for the first time isn't for the faint of heart. There are so many decisions you need to make and so many considerations to keep in mind before you sign on the dotted line. The biggest worry (beyond the biggest financial investment you're making) is what you don't know, especially regarding house maintenance. Luckily, we have the expertise of those who have come before us.

Redditor theforeverletter recently posed this question on the r/Home Improvement subreddit: "Homeowners who have been doing this for [a while], what regular maintenance do people need to do to their house they don’t know they should be doing? For those of you who know far more than me, I bought a house last year; what things do I/other first-time homeowners need to do to keep up with everything we may not know? Of course, this depends on the house (Septic/city water crawl space/no crawl space) and things can vary, but happy to learn as much as I can!" Hundreds of people were happy to share their advice, and we've taken some of the most popular, so you know what to look out for.

Read more