Best Stud Finder Buyers Guide (2021)

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Stud Finder Buyers Guide

Heavy items on hollow walls. The two really shouldn’t mix but often do end up going together!! Mirrors, shelving, cabinets, flat-screen TVs… they’re all pretty weighty so hanging them on a wall isn’t something you can just do without thinking about it. 

Best of the Rest
Stud Finder Sensor Wall Scanner - 5 in 1 Electronic Stud Sensor Locator Wall Wood Beam Joist Finders Wall Detector Edge Center Finding with LCD Display for Wood Live AC Wire Metal Studs Detection
Best Pick
Bosch Professional 601081000 Professional Digital Detector GMS 120 (1 x 9 V Block Battery, Protective case, max. Detection Depth in Steel/Copper/Live Cables: 120/80/50 mm), 9 V, Black/Blue
Best of the Rest
FOLAI Finder, Detector 5 in 1 Mutifunction Wall Scanner with Upgraded Smart Sensor, HD LCD Display and for Wood AC Wire Metal Studs Cable Joist Detection(Batteries Included, Gold, All
Best Budget
ULTRATOOL LCD 5 in 1 Stud Wood Metal Wire Detector Cable Finder Wall Detector Finders Scanner (12 Months Warranty)
Best of the Rest
Bosch Cable Finder Truvo (Maximum Detection Depth Live Cable/Non-Magnetic Metal/Magnetic Metal: 50/60/70 mm, in Cardboard Box)
Stud Finder Sensor Wall Scanner - 5 in 1 Electronic Stud Sensor Locator Wall Wood Beam Joist Finders Wall Detector Edge Center Finding with LCD Display for Wood Live AC Wire Metal Studs Detection
Bosch Professional 601081000 Professional Digital Detector GMS 120 (1 x 9 V Block Battery, Protective case, max. Detection Depth in Steel/Copper/Live Cables: 120/80/50 mm), 9 V, Black/Blue
FOLAI Finder, Detector 5 in 1 Mutifunction Wall Scanner with Upgraded Smart Sensor, HD LCD Display and for Wood AC Wire Metal Studs Cable Joist Detection(Batteries Included, Gold, All
ULTRATOOL LCD 5 in 1 Stud Wood Metal Wire Detector Cable Finder Wall Detector Finders Scanner (12 Months Warranty)
Bosch Cable Finder Truvo (Maximum Detection Depth Live Cable/Non-Magnetic Metal/Magnetic Metal: 50/60/70 mm, in Cardboard Box)
Batteries Included?
Auto Callibration?
Warranty
2 Years
6 Year
1 Year
1 Year
2 Year
Rating
Reviews
3,041 Reviews
6,692 Reviews
5,740 Reviews
280 Reviews
4,339 Reviews
Price
£23.99
£85.00
Price not available
£14.99
£36.00
Best of the Rest
Stud Finder Sensor Wall Scanner - 5 in 1 Electronic Stud Sensor Locator Wall Wood Beam Joist Finders Wall Detector Edge Center Finding with LCD Display for Wood Live AC Wire Metal Studs Detection
Stud Finder Sensor Wall Scanner - 5 in 1 Electronic Stud Sensor Locator Wall Wood Beam Joist Finders Wall Detector Edge Center Finding with LCD Display for Wood Live AC Wire Metal Studs Detection
Batteries Included?
Auto Callibration?
Warranty
2 Years
Rating
Reviews
3,041 Reviews
Price
£23.99
Read Reviews & Buy Now
Best Pick
Bosch Professional 601081000 Professional Digital Detector GMS 120 (1 x 9 V Block Battery, Protective case, max. Detection Depth in Steel/Copper/Live Cables: 120/80/50 mm), 9 V, Black/Blue
Bosch Professional 601081000 Professional Digital Detector GMS 120 (1 x 9 V Block Battery, Protective case, max. Detection Depth in Steel/Copper/Live Cables: 120/80/50 mm), 9 V, Black/Blue
Batteries Included?
Auto Callibration?
Warranty
6 Year
Rating
Reviews
6,692 Reviews
Price
£85.00
Read Reviews & Buy Now
Best of the Rest
FOLAI Finder, Detector 5 in 1 Mutifunction Wall Scanner with Upgraded Smart Sensor, HD LCD Display and for Wood AC Wire Metal Studs Cable Joist Detection(Batteries Included, Gold, All
FOLAI Finder, Detector 5 in 1 Mutifunction Wall Scanner with Upgraded Smart Sensor, HD LCD Display and for Wood AC Wire Metal Studs Cable Joist Detection(Batteries Included, Gold, All
Batteries Included?
Auto Callibration?
Warranty
1 Year
Rating
Reviews
5,740 Reviews
Price
Price not available
Read Reviews & Buy Now
Best Budget
ULTRATOOL LCD 5 in 1 Stud Wood Metal Wire Detector Cable Finder Wall Detector Finders Scanner (12 Months Warranty)
ULTRATOOL LCD 5 in 1 Stud Wood Metal Wire Detector Cable Finder Wall Detector Finders Scanner (12 Months Warranty)
Batteries Included?
Auto Callibration?
Warranty
1 Year
Rating
Reviews
280 Reviews
Price
£14.99
Read Reviews & Buy Now
Best of the Rest
Bosch Cable Finder Truvo (Maximum Detection Depth Live Cable/Non-Magnetic Metal/Magnetic Metal: 50/60/70 mm, in Cardboard Box)
Bosch Cable Finder Truvo (Maximum Detection Depth Live Cable/Non-Magnetic Metal/Magnetic Metal: 50/60/70 mm, in Cardboard Box)
Batteries Included?
Auto Callibration?
Warranty
2 Year
Rating
Reviews
4,339 Reviews
Price
£36.00
Read Reviews & Buy Now

Last update on 2021-08-21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

In order to secure heavy objects safely, it’s strongly advised you anchor into the wall stud. Wall studs are vertical running timbers that give hollow walls their strength. Normally around 2” wide and 4” to 6” deep, they serve as a pretty dependable foundation to screw into. You can’t see them so half the battle is finding them, but a stud finder is designed to do just that job; to find a stud’s location quickly, non-invasively and above anything else, accurately. 

Consequently, there’s a degree of trust involved when it comes to using a stud finder as you’re ultimately working with the unknown – you’re not able to see what you’re dealing with on the other side of that wall so you need a stud finder which will act as your eyes, and guide you to the point where you can confidently and safely insert wall fixings, which you know are adequately supported to hold your TV, shelf or picture frame steadily and securely. 

Best Pick Stud Finder – Bosch Professional Stud Finder GMS 120

Bosch Professional 601081000 Professional Digital Detector GMS 120 (1 x 9 V Block Battery, Protective case, max. Detection Depth in Steel/Copper/Live Cables: 120/80/50 mm), 9 V, Black/Blue
6,692 Reviews
Bosch Professional 601081000 Professional Digital Detector GMS 120 (1 x 9 V Block Battery, Protective case, max. Detection Depth in Steel/Copper/Live Cables: 120/80/50 mm), 9 V, Black/Blue
  • 3 DETECTION SETTINGS: Metal mode is ideal as a metal detector, while Drywall and Live Wire modes are optimized to act as a stud detector and cable detector, respectively
  • SUITABLE FOR: Detecting objects to avoid drilling like when fitting a wall cabinet or heating system, or for finding objects to drill into such as detecting wooden studs to fit drywall
  • 3-COLOR INDICATOR: The LED ring around the center marking hole turns red for a detected object, yellow for a nearby object, and green when no object has been detected
  • PRECISE RESULTS: Apply voltage to the cable being search for, remove jewelry & gloves. Hold the device flat against the wall and hold it firmly by the rubber grip. Move it over the area at least 3x.
  • ITEMS INCLUDED: Stud Finder GMS 120, hand strap, protective bag, 1 x 9 V battery

Last update on 2021-08-21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Only got 5 minutes

Before you decide which type of stud finder you’re going for, make sure you’re clear on what you intend on using your stud finder for:

Stud MaterialStud Location
Most domestic dwellings have wooden studs, but in some cases, metal or plastic studs may have been used. Depending on the model of stud finder you go for, certain stud finders are only calibrated to locate one type of stud material, so consider what type of studs you’ll be working to locate and choose a model accordingly. Where are the studs you’re trying to find? Are they in a wall, ceiling, or in some cases, the floor? Basic stud finder models are unlikely to be strong enough to penetrate a thick surface. You’ll also need to consider if you’re going for a hand-controlled model, how much grip you’re going to need so you’re able to hold and control the stud finder comfortably. 

Once you’re clear on what you’ll be using your stud finder for, you can start to think about the type that is best suited to your needs and your budget.

  • Magnetic stud finders

Old-school magnetic stud finders keep things simple. They locate the stud area by displaying magnetic attraction when they source the nails that hold the studs and the plasterboard fixings. When you feel the pull, there’s a good chance your stud finder has struck gold (well, a wall stud nail!!!) They’re long-lasting and portable as they don’t rely on an electric power source and will fit easily into a toolbox or tool belt. 

Basic magnetic stud finder models consist of just a fixed magnet, which you manually slide across the wall until you feel the magnetic force take hold. The next step-up is a magnet encased, usually in plastic, which makes a noise or has a visual indicator when the magnet moves inside the casing. A useful design feature to look out for on a magnetic stud finder is a central groove or V indentation on the magnet or casing, which you can use to position a screw or make a pencil mark. Some models also have a spirit level incorporated to help with straightness. 

The disadvantage when it comes to magnetic stud finders is that they actually locate the plasterboard fixing, not the stud. This is fine if the stud’s where it should be, but if it’s off-centre, even slightly, you could be a few centimetres away when it comes to drilling, which can make all the difference in terms of safety and accuracy! The magnets are also attracted to any ferrous metals (metals which contain iron) so if there’s anything hiding behind that wall that falls into this category, such as piping or an old electric box, you’ll feel the attraction from the magnet.

  • Electronic stud finders 

Electronic stud finders are battery-powered and use sensors to detect changes in wall density. As the sensors are moved along the surface of the wall, they indicate changes in density. Unlike magnetic stud finders, which will only source ferrous metals, an electronic stud finder can find also find wooden studs. Results are clearly displayed on a digital screen, which gives a quick and clear indication of what the sensors have detected. 

There are two types of electronic stud finders:

Edge finders Centre finders 
An edge finder works with a single sensor that reacts instantaneously when it detects a change in density – this will be the edge of a stud. It isn’t able to tell you the actual size of the stud so, once it’s reacted, you’re best marking the point, then bringing the stud finder from the opposite direction until it reacts again – that should indicate the edge of the stud parallel to the one you located initially. You’ll then know the size and be able to mark the centre point.Center finders are seriously clever. They cut out the calculating and the changing sides as they have multiple sensors, which will pick up location; stud size, and calculate the central point by obtaining two matching readings – displaying all the information clearly on an LED display.

A disadvantage of an electronic stud finder is that the sensors can struggle if the wall thickness is inconsistent, particularly with lath and plaster walls. If your electronic stud finder has a “Deep scanning” mode this can be used to try and overcome this problem but even so, with an electronic stud finder, be prepared that on older uneven walls, in particular, it’s likely you’ll need to take several readings in order to pinpoint exactly where the studs are. 

Best Budget Stud Finder – ULTRATOOL LCD Stud Wood Metal Wire Detector

ULTRATOOL LCD 5 in 1 Stud Wood Metal Wire Detector Cable Finder Wall Detector Finders Scanner (12 Months Warranty)
280 Reviews
ULTRATOOL LCD 5 in 1 Stud Wood Metal Wire Detector Cable Finder Wall Detector Finders Scanner (12 Months Warranty)
  • 5 in 1 DEEP DETECTION FUNCTION: our wall scanner wood stud finder features 5 scanning modes respectively. Includes 1/2” stud scan, 1” stud scan, 1.5” stud scan, metal scan & AC scan. Helps you quickly & easily locate wood, metal studs, joists, beams, metal pipes, rebar & live AC wire behind walls, floors, ceilings
  • HELPFUL LCD DISPLAY & SOUND WARNING: this wall detector features a large LCD display & sound warning to help detect the accurate location of the objects. Saves you lots of time by displaying the desired stud center & the precise position of the stud. NOTE: PLEASE PRESS THE YELLOW BUTTON ON THE BOTTOM LEFT AT THE SAME TIME AS SCANNING METAL OR STUD IT IS THE SCAN BUTTON.
  • Note - It is difficult to detect the wire with the ground wire. It does not apply to slats and plaster walls; rusting of items may affect detection results; depth of inspection may vary depending on wall moisture, wall texture, paint, etc. There are 3 different depths to choose from in the spiral mode, and the “1⁄2” mode is most often recommended.
  • LARGE BACKLIT SCREEN - ULTRATOOL Stud Finder come with LCD backlight, you can read the value clear even in low light conditions. Detection mode, center pointing, low battery indication can be shown on the screen. Audio indicator will beep for reminding.
  • MULTIPLE USES - It's a great tool for plumbers, contractors, carpenters, masons, home renovators, construction workers, electricians, DIY enthusiasts, and others who need reliable detection. Excellent product can meet all your detection needs.

Last update on 2021-08-21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Multi-sensor or instant stud finder 

The latest addition to the stud finder family is the multi-sensor stud finder. The clue is in the name – these stud finders have a multitude of sensors, which have the capability to read a whole wall, detecting multiple stud locations almost instantly. They effectively eliminate any guesswork that inevitably goes into stud finding! They’re clearly more high-tech than the magnetic and electronic alternatives, using a complicated algorithm to process data received from its numerous sensors, so inevitably this type of stud finder is going to be expensive! However, if you’re after a stud finder that has the ability to take multiple readings; combat irregularities better than an electronic stud finder, and produce much more accurate results, then an instant stud finder is the tool for you. 

Useful additional features of electronic & multi-sensor stud finders

Feature Use 
AC Wire detection Some electronic stud finders can detect live electronic (AC) cables. A very useful safety feature.
Metal identification Some models can detect metals and identify whether they’re ferrous or non-ferrous. Without this feature, your stud finder might be a little too keen to flash its indicator light –  screwing into a copper water pipe can be a costly mistake!
Battery included Most electronic stud finders require at least a 9V battery or 3 AAA batteries; as with most battery-operated products, you’ll probably have to buy these separately.
Automatic shut down For electronic stud finders, it’s all about preserving the battery life; models with this energy-saving feature will make sure that when the stud finder isn’t in use, it’ll automatically shut down and so avoid any unnecessary draining of the battery. 
Deep ScanningA feature on electronic stud finders which helps combat the problem of walls of varying thickness, or those constructed from plaster and lath. 
Auto Depth ScanProvides the stud finder with the exact thickness of drywall so you’re able to plan your approach much more safely and effectively.  

Cost

You can pick up a basic magnetic stud finder for under around £10. These basic, budget models will do what the name suggests – find studs, but they’ll also detect any other ferrous metal that’s lurking in your walls. If it’s accuracy you’re after (which if you’re hanging anything of any value that needs to be straight and secure than the answer’s yes!), you’re probably better considering an electronic stud finder.  

Edge-finding electronic stud finders cost around £20-£30 but they’re worth increasing your budget for – for the top end of the price range you should be able to pick up a model with deep scan mode and AC wire detection. 

For around £40 you can step up your edge-finding electronic stud finder to a center finder model. Again, it’s likely that you’ll get depth modes, plus live AC detection. You’re likely to also get the added feature of metal identification, which is handy if you’re working on old walls, which may contain piping.

Multi-sensing models are the newest, most high-tech addition to the stud finder family. You’re looking at between £40-£60 for one of these but if you’re a pro, or likely to be using your stud finder regularly, one of these is certainly worth considering due to its impressive level of accuracy.  

Best of the Rest

Sale
Bosch Cable Finder Truvo (Maximum Detection Depth Live Cable/Non-Magnetic Metal/Magnetic Metal: 50/60/70 mm, in Cardboard Box)
4,339 Reviews
Bosch Cable Finder Truvo (Maximum Detection Depth Live Cable/Non-Magnetic Metal/Magnetic Metal: 50/60/70 mm, in Cardboard Box)
  • Live Wire Detection: The cable detector locates live wires up to depths of 50 mm and warns users with a blinking red light and beeping signal
  • Metal Detection: The Truvo can also act as a metal detector, locating magnetic and non-magnetic metals at depths of up to 70 mm and 60 mm respectively
  • Auto-Calibration: The wall scanner automatically calibrates once the device is placed against the wall and will recalibrate when placed in a new position
  • 3-Color Indicator: The LED light turns red for a detected object, yellow for a nearby object, and green when no object has been detected
  • Warning Signal: A beeping signal indicates when the cable finder is getting closer to a detected object

Last update on 2021-08-21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

FOLAI Finder, Detector 5 in 1 Mutifunction Wall Scanner with Upgraded Smart Sensor, HD LCD Display and for Wood AC Wire Metal Studs Cable Joist Detection(Batteries Included, Gold, All
5,740 Reviews
FOLAI Finder, Detector 5 in 1 Mutifunction Wall Scanner with Upgraded Smart Sensor, HD LCD Display and for Wood AC Wire Metal Studs Cable Joist Detection(Batteries Included, Gold, All
  • The most accurate and higher safety - stud detector is specially designed! The most advanced sensor technology is used to accurately and quickly locate the metal pipes fire lines studs wooden frames steel bars and supporting beams hidden behind walls floors and ceilings Whether you are a professional homeowner or DIY enthusiast you can find a good use in this electronic screw scanner
  • The wall scanner includes five different scanning modes suitable for metal tubes fire lines studs wooden frames steel bars and brackets as well as ceilings deep embedded objects behind walls The bolt mode can detect wooden beams and joists in the dry wall up to 1 5 inches Metal mode can detect up to 3 inches of pipe Depth mode detects up to 3 inches of wood and metal components while 85 to 240 volts of AC current can be used for up to 2 inches of voltage and live wire
  • Auto-calibration and ergonomic grip comfortable to use before testing please hold down the scan button for 1-2 seconds Auto-calibration provides maximum reliability and accuracy for users The ergonomic design of this wall stud detector enables it to be fixed from any angle
  • LCD screen upgrade design display the required stud material and the exact position of the stud - Digital stud scanner with large LCD display and loud warning can detect the exact position of the object When the material is found the LCD display will beep to tell you if you are close to the target Fast detection saves time and energy for users and makes task completion easier
  • International products have separate terms, are sold from abroad and may differ from local products, including fit, age ratings, and language of product, labeling or instructions.

Last update on 2021-08-21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Stud Finder Sensor Wall Scanner - 5 in 1 Electronic Stud Sensor Locator Wall Wood Beam Joist Finders Wall Detector Edge Center Finding with LCD Display for Wood Live AC Wire Metal Studs Detection
3,041 Reviews
Stud Finder Sensor Wall Scanner - 5 in 1 Electronic Stud Sensor Locator Wall Wood Beam Joist Finders Wall Detector Edge Center Finding with LCD Display for Wood Live AC Wire Metal Studs Detection
  • ➤GREAT ACCURACY AND CONSISTENCY - This stud finder is professionally designed! This stud finders uses the UPGRADE INTERNAL SENSORS. It senses a change in density in the space behind the wall and locates the stud center with GREAT ACCURACY. In additions. The shape of this wall scanner also shows the edges of the stud. The center of a stud is the most secure location when mounting anything heavy. The edges help you to recheck the locations. Take it home, makes your DIY homework easier!
  • ➤5 SCANNING MODES UP TO 60MM DEPTH - This stud locator has mufti-fuctions and can quickly and easily locates wood metal studs joists beams metal pipe rebar and live AC wire behind walls, floors, and ceilings. StudScan Mode scans through one layer of drywall up to 0.5 in.(12mm) and 1 in . (25mm) thick. DeepScan Mode scans through 2 layers of drywall up to 1.5 in. (38 mm) deep. Deep Stud Scan Mode is a higher sensitivity scanning mode that should be used when there are extra layers of wallboard
  • ➤WIRE WSRNNING INDICATOR, NO FEAR OF DRILLING INTO A LIVE WIRE - WireWarning Detection is up to 2 in.(51mm) deep. The added bonus is that the wire warning is ALWAYS ON while you are scanning in StudScan/DeepScan/MetalScan Modes, to alert you to the presence of live, unshielded electrical AC wires up to 2 in. (50 mm) deep, which helps you avoid drilling or hammering into a water pipe or electrical wire.Whether you are a professional, homeowner or a DIY enthusiast, you can find great use in it!
  • ➤EASY TO READLCD DISPLAY +SOULD WARNING HELPS FIND STUD CENTER AND STUD DEGES EASILY - Displaying the Desired Stud Center As Well As the Precise Position of the Stud - The digital stud detector features large LCD display together with the big sound warning to detect the accurate location of the objects. When find the material, the LCD display will indicate the direction and the intensity of beeping tells whether you are more close to the target. The fast detection saves users time greatly
  • ➤WHY RECOMMEND This STUD FINDER TO YOU: We has been dedicated to Research and develop stud finders for many years, and we have a professional team and mature productions process. This stud finder not only gives you top quality and great accuracy, but also provide muti-functions to meet your practical needs on drywall, lathe wall, ceiling, plasterboard wall, wallboard etc. Every This product includes a 45 days money back & 24-month warranty. Please contact us if you have any questions!

Last update on 2021-08-21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Frequently Asked Questions

What is AC Detection?

AC detection is a function available on some stud finder electronic and multi-sensor models which indicates the presence of any live cabling running below a surface. The parameters of AC detection will vary between models – generally, more than a couple of inches and they’re likely to struggle – so as a precaution, you should always ensure the mains power is switched off before you start drilling.

Will an electronic stud finder work on lath and plaster walls?

Electronic stud finders are likely to struggle with lath and plaster walls as the density is inconsistent and they’re often reinforced with steel mesh. Electronic stud finders with a ‘deep scanning’ mode have been designed to try and overcome the problem but it’s likely you’ll still need to take several readings in order to pinpoint the stud’s exact location. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, multi-sensor stud finders are designed specifically to combat irregularities in density.

About Mike Jones 192 Articles
I have been a keen DIY enthusiast for over 15 years, I’m constantly tinkering in my garage, taking things apart and building things. Along the way, I seem to have acquired a bit of a tool collection, as you do. The issue I found was that the information online when it comes to finding out what you need to know when buying new tools was somewhat limited. I didn’t necessarily need to know which tool to buy, but more what was important when making that buying decision. Also, a bit like a child in a sweet shop when I see new tools and things I can do with them I find it hard to resist. I started this blog back in 2017 to try and put together some buying guides, not really reviews but more what you may want to know before going and deciding on a new tool. I’m also a keen gardener and if there is a tool or gadget that helps me in the garden I’m going to let you know. I hope these musings and buyers guides are of use to you in some way. All the best, Mike.

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