How to Find a Stud

     I know there are many people out there who have absolutely no do-it-yourself  abilities whatsoever.  There are also a lot of people out there that claim to be proficient in that area but in actuality they lack those very same skills.  There isn’t anything wrong with admitting that you don’t know everything about home improvement projects, tools, and the lingo that goes along with it.  Remember, it doesn’t make you any less of a man to not know your way around a toolbox or workbench!

     The best way to learn how to do a lot of these things is by reading, asking questions, and trial & error.  Once you give yourself a solid base of knowledge you can move on to tackling larger projects that you never would have thought you had the ability to.

     One easy project that I am going to guide you through today is essential for any DIY’er.  It is essential knowledge for anyone looking to hang anything on an existing wall such as shelving, pictures or any number of things.

     Being able to locate a stud in an existing wall is very important.  Behind drywall we can not see the configuration of studs which makes it difficult when hanging things.

     When hanging things that are even slightly heavy we should always attempt to find a stud (an existing 2×4 behind the drywall) and hang things from the stud and not the drywall.  Hanging things from the drywall can ruin your drywall and be at risk of pulling the screw/nail/etc out of the drywall and cause a hazard.

     You definitely don’t want to be entertaining people at your home and WHAM…. a shelf falls off the wall and cracks your dinner guest over the head.  This is not the kind of thing we want happening to any of our readers!


Locating a stud

     Finding a wood stud is imperative if you are hanging something on the wall or installing anything that needs to be anchored to the wall.  Start your search for a wood stud at the location you want to start the installation.

  • Electronic Stud Finder:  Without question the simplest way to find a stud is with an electronic stud finder.  These tools measure the relative density of a wall by monitoring its “dielectric constant” as the sensor is moved slowly and horizontally along the wall.  When it senses a change in density it notifies the user.  This change in density also signifies that there is a stud behind the drywall at this point.
  • Visually Locate an Electrical Outlet:  How does this help you might ask?  Well, outlets are usually fastened to the side of the stud.  The simplest way to find a stud is to check on one side or the other of an outlet.  The stud will be directly adjacent to the outlet or up to 1” away.
  • Magnetic Stud Finder:  First of all, studs will have some kind of nail or screw in them.  This is because the drywall is fastened to the stud itself.  It is possible to take a magnet and by running it up and down the wall you should be able to locate a pattern of nails/screws that signifies a stud.  This is not quite as efficient as using a stud finder or visually locating an outlet but it works nonetheless.  
  • 16” on center:  Once you have found a stud you will find that they are typically spaced 16” (inches) on center.  So now you can simply measure in increments of 16” from where you found the stud to approximately where you need to find the next one.


Once you have found your studs you are ready to hang whatever you want on the wall without fear of it being pulled out and hurting someone!

Please leave any comments or suggestions below for anyone who is looking information on how to find a stud.  There are always many methods to go about a DIY project and ours may not be the only way to do it so please give us some feedback!

About Kiah

I received my Geography and GIS (Geographic Information Science) degrees from Appalachian State University in the Mountains of North Carolina (Go Mountaineers!!) I own and run my own GIS Mapping and Consulting company called MAPS of Carolina LLC (Mapping and Planning Services of Carolina) I also work as the head of marketing and advertising as well as SEO and social media for an online E-Commerce company based out of Harnett County, North Carolina. The company,, makes really great DIY garage storage shelving kits that are affordable and easy to install. Our kits can provide a home owner with tons of storage that they never knew that they had. I enjoy being outdoors and love to go hiking, fishing and camping. I am a travel nut and have been to Central and South America as well as all over the United States (excluding New England, parts of the midwest, and Alaska and Hawaii) I have a 7 year old female black Lab who is smarter than some humans I know. I love animals and love living in and having been raised in a rural area such as Harnett County, North Carolina. People definitely move at a slower pace around here and it is really a beautiful part of the country! Nothing like spending a day on the Cape Fear canoeing and fishing with a good buddy!
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      Hi Courtney, thanks for referring me in your article! Let me know if you think of any more interesting topics that we here at can write on!

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