Audio: Finding Studs Part I

Hi. This is Nathan. And I decided to do this segment in audio only for a change. Let’s talk about finding studs.

Finding studs can sometimes be a problem, but usually it’s just a minor annoyance. Back and forth…back and forth. Come on! There has got to be a stud in there somewhere.

Let’s review the common ways of finding studs. Basically we have radar, magnetic, and the skilled knock. I seldom use my high-tech gizmo to find studs. It’s too imprecise and too big to keep in a tool belt. There’s a lot of little things that can help: a trained eye and ear, knowledge of framing, and an ability to pick up on clues.

What do I mean by a trained eye? Well for one thing it’s kind of fun to predict a 16″ distance and then see how close you came. Yes, folks, finding studs for fun and profit. And I’m assuming you know that studs are commonly spaced 16″ apart. So it is actually a good skill to have in your tool belt, metaphorically speaking, to be able to quickly identify a 16″ distance.

Pounding on the wall. It takes a little practice, but it gives a quick approximation – unless it’s plaster and lathe. And for that, what does work? I usually have to send a screw through the plaster to be sure I’m really on to something.

One skill that can be honed is the ability to see mud and/or drywall joints in a wall or ceiling. Try something right now. Press pause and lay on the floor and look at the ceiling. See if you can pick out the mud joints and see where the sheets of sheetrock start and end. Once you get it, you’ll start seeing them everywhere.

There are many other little clues to stud location. The simplest is probably to look for an outlet and assume there is a stud on one side of it. There’s isn’t always a stud on one side of it, but it is a good assumption.

The best way to learn about all this, if you’re not familiar with it, is to walk around the house with a stud finder and after finding a stud, see how many tell-tale signs you in the walls and woodwork that give away the location of that stud.

OK. This is getting long, so next time I’ll cover my own, personal, fast, favorite method of finding studs when installing woodwork.