Best Stud Finders: Quick and Accurate Stud Detection
Track a stud’s position behind any surface with these top-rated stud finders
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.Read more.
PUBLISHED ON October 7, 2019
Stud finders are a popular tool with mechanics. They help you find studs and beams hidden behind non-metal surfaces, so that you can avoid hitting or ripping them out. It can help you know where to drill when installing new speakers in your car door or dashboard. Our buying guide will help you find a high-quality stud finder for your garage work.
- Best OverallProSensor Franklin SensorsSummarySummaryA battery-powered stud finder that can sense multiple locations simultaneously.ProsProsBright LED bulbs indicate the position of the object. Identifies the size of the stud. It can detect wood and metals. Can sense 13 locations simultaneously.ConsConsExpensive. May give false readings. The LED lights may stop working.
- Best ValueCH Hanson Magnetic Stud FinderSummarySummaryA powerful stud finder that pinpoints the exact location of nails and screws in a stud.ProsProsInexpensive. It can hang on a wall. Small and compact. Powerful magnet. Ergonomic design. No batteries required. Detects all kinds of metalsConsConsReduced performance on plaster walls. May read false positives on surfaces with metal piping.
- Honorable MentionStudpop Magnetic Stud FinderSummarySummaryA magnetic stud finder with an indicator that clicks when a metal stud is found.ProsProsNo batteries required. Lightweight. Easy to use. Works on a wide range of materials. Accurate detection even on uneven surfaces. Decently priced.ConsConsWeaker magnetic strength than electrical stud finders. May not work on thick surfaces.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
- Always use fresh batteries to maintain the accuracy of the stud finder. Weak batteries may give you false readings and may reduce the detection depth of the finder.
- A pencil will come in handy when marking the edges of the stud. It will help you know the exact point to drive your drill or fastener.
- Always double-check your work to make sure that you correctly marked the edge of the stud. Run the flat side of the stud finder on the surface from the extreme edges to the center of the stud.
Q: Is it possible to get a false positive when using a stud finder?
A: High-quality stud finders are less prone to inaccuracies and can give you the exact size of the stud. Cheap units have weaker magnets that may give false readings. You may get false readings from metal piping, brackets, wires, and other materials. Also, you may get a false reading if there are dirt particles at the contact point of the stud finder and the surface.
Q: Can a stud finder detect wires?
A: Most electric stud finders have the ability to detect electrical wiring in your walls or car door. They typically create a strong electrical field that can easily detect the location and length of the wiring. After pinpointing the location of the wire, you can use a voltage detector to tell if it’s a live wire or not.
Q: Does a stud finder work trough aluminum?
A: It will depend on the design and sensitivity of the stud finder. Aluminum or copper may shield the magnetic field of some low-strength magnets since they aren’t magnetic materials. However, aluminum is extremely inadequate against high-frequency magnetic fields typically produced by high-end electronic stud finders.
Our top pick for one of the most accurate stud finders is the ProSensor Franklin Sensors. It gives accurate readings without sliding it back and forth from the surface. Its wide design is also great for finding double studs.
You can also opt for the CH Hanson Magnetic Stud Finder, which is a cheaper option.