Best Stud Finder Reviews
Magnetic, Electronic, and Multipurpose
Just a few months ago, when I heard the word “stud”, all that came to mind were retired race horses and George Clooney, but that was before I decided to take on some home renovation projects. I learned pretty quickly that if I really wanted to do the repairs and improvements I had planned, I would need a good stud finder to help me locate the strongest points in my walls.
It was unbelievable how confusing it was trying to figure out which stud finders were the best, and what all the terms and features really meant. That’s why I decided to put together this website, so that I could help any other people who were in need of a dependable stud finder but were just getting overwhelmed by all the patchy details out there.
Here, you can find my reviews for the best stud finders on the market today, as well as some other guides to point you in the right direction if you’re still not quite sure what type of stud finder you’re looking for.
Best Wide Sensor Stud Finder
ProSensor 710 Precision
Sometimes the manual motion of moving a stud finder along a wall can be very tedious and quite time consuming, especially if you’re working with a larger wall or one that has non-standard stud sizes. In these situations, you’re definitely going to want a wide sensor stud finder, and this model is by and far one the best stud finders that I’ve come across.
Extra Large Sensor Area
The true benefit of this stud finder is its extra wide sensor area, which includes 13 individual LED lights that connect directly to the sensors. When you place it on the wall, it will immediately start scanning for studs, and that extra wide area means you don’t have to move the unit as much to detect a stud. When it does find one, the LED lights will illuminate a bright red, but only the lights directly on top of the stud will light up. This allows you to determine the exact position of the stud as well as its exact size.
For example, if you’re scanning a wall that has 2×4 studs placed on their side, this scanner will convey that by illuminating three of its lights, whereas a standard wide stud would light up 5 LEDs. That’s the kind of precision and performance that you get when you have a wide, continuous sensor area on your stud finder.
Always On Deep Scanning
I was also very impressed to learn that in addition to a wide scanner, this stud finder also offers deep scan modes. Most standard stud finders will experience a loss of depth when put into use out in the world, since there’s no telling what kind of materials and techniques were used to build the walls you’re going to scan.
To counteract that, Franklin Sensors created some very powerful sensors that are always active, allowing you to achieve a scanning depth of over 1 inch in tough conditions – much more than you would see on some other models. The entire scanner configuration here also allows you to detect multiple studs simultaneously if they are placed closer together, which is something that you just wouldn’t be able to do with most traditional stud finders.
Best Multipurpose Detection Scanner
Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner
If you’re the type of person that works on a lot of construction projects that call for more than simply finding a wooden stud behind the wall, then you have two options – purchase a lot of different tools or find one multipurpose stud detection tool. If you want to keep your tool box light and avoid overbuying on equipment, then you’re absolutely going to love this amazing digital scanner from the experts at Bosch.
Three Scanning Tools in One
Like I said, this tool is actually three scanners in one, which means that you’re getting a huge amount of functionality in a single, multipurpose device. Each of the tool’s three modes focuses on scanning a solid surface and detecting different types of objects inside.
The first mode is a traditional wooden stud sensor. The second mode focuses on scanning for metal objects and is most commonly used when working with concrete or cement walls and floors, where you would want to know the location of the rebar or metal piping inside. The final mode allows you to scan an area for live electrical wiring, so you can both pinpoint a system for repairs or to avoid it when performing other types of construction or repairs.
Detects the Center of the Object
With so many features in place, it’s good to know that the sensors all function in the same capacity, so you know exactly what you should expect when using any of the three modes. The GMS120 accomplishes this by using a complex scanner system that helps you detect the center of an object rather than just an edge. In each mode, you just need to make one pass along the object and then move back across it in order to locate the center. You’ll know what’s happening with the help of the lighted censor ring, which shines green when no object is detected, orange when an object is near and red once it’s found the center. There’s even a hole in the center of the sensor ring so you can effortlessly mark the center of the object for drilling or plotting out a larger work area.
Best Budget Stud Finder (Electric)
Zircon StudSensor e50 Electronic
It’s pretty amazing how much you can get done with an electronic stud finder, but many of them can skew pretty high in terms of price. Those of you that want to take advantage of the benefits that come from an electric stud finder, but aren’t ready to commit to that kind of investment, should definitely check out the StudSensor e50 from Zircon. It’s definitely the best stud finder for the money.
Scans Wall for Stud Edges
Unlike other types of stud finders, this model uses an internal sensor system that actually scans the interior of the wall to determine the position of the studs, specifically by locating their edges. With the StudSensor e50, all you have to do is power the unit on, allow it to calibrate to the thickness of the wall, and move the unit along the wall’s surface until you come across a stud.
When you do find a stud edge, the scanner alerts you in multiple ways. First, the display shows you when you’re getting close to an edge and this creates an arrow that shows when you’re right on top of it. Then, the unit emits an audible beeping sound to alert you, and finally emits an indicator beam onto the wall, so you can mark the exact location of the stud edge.
Many Features at a Low Price
As if that wasn’t already a tremendous value, this stud finder comes with a some features that you just wouldn’t expect to find on such an affordable model. First up, there are actually two scanning modes available to you – one standard mode suitable for working with most drywall, and a higher power mode that is designed to detect wood and metal studs on walls with two sheets of drywall. It also has a wire warning system that can detect when a live wire is running through the wall, so you don’t accidentally start drilling into an area that houses the building’s electrical systems.
Best Deep Scanning Stud Finder
Precision Sensors Profinder 5000
One thing you’ll find about some types of stud finders is that you have to slide them around the wall quite a bit in order to find the exact location of a stud or metal object, especially when you are working with thicker walls. When you need a powerful deep scanning stud finder to help you with those difficult situations, then look no further than the Profinder 5000.
Easy Push Button Operation
All it takes to get this wall scanner up and running is a single push of a button, so there’s no troublesome activation process or any confusing switches and toggles that you need to worry about. It is battery operated, and allows you to scan a large surface for any hidden objects with less effort than some other types of stud finders. The LED lights on the top of the scanner will light up when it detects any solid objects behind its scanning zone, so you don’t need to go back and forth with multiple passes in order to determine the specific location of a stud or pipe. All of that is thanks to its powerful deep scanning sensors.
Deep Penetration Sensors
The real benefit of this stud finder is its amazing deep scan mode, which is designed to penetrate thick walls more easily. There’s no need to switch to a higher powered scanning mode or make any changes to the device in order to make use of the scanners, since they are always active and always ready to give you a strong reading. These scanners are also spread out over a wide surface, which also helps you get a more accurate reading on walls, since it can scan more of the area at once. Other stud finders require multiple passes so that the smaller scanner can essentially build a picture of the wall and tell you where a stud or pipe is located, but here it can sense large areas right away and immediately tell you if it senses a change in density that represents a stud or pipe.
The Professional Contractor MultiScanner
Zircon i520 Center-Finding Stud Finder
Any professional contractor knows that the quality and precision of his tools is what’s going to help him get the job done on time and with the highest quality possible. After checking out all the great and powerful features on the Zircon i520 scanner, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the best professional stud finder for contractors.
Ideal for Professional Use
All of the features present in this stud finder make it very clear that it’s designed for the serious contractor who work in a real, active construction environment. It features multiple scan modes that allow you to look for wooden studs and metal pipes and also check for AC wiring within the walls. Having that kind of dynamic versatility is essential when you’ve got to get a lot done in a short timeframe, and you can’t waste time with false positives, tearing out walls trying to find a wire that leads to a main circuit, or wondering if the wall you’re working on has any key plumbing pipes behind it. The two scanning strengths also help contractors get the job done in more difficult conditions, since you can increase the scanning strength to penetrate thicker walls. You can tell when it’s time to increase the power thanks to the helpful display that shows the signal strength and tells you about the depth of the target.
Helpful Digital Screen
Another huge benefit to contractors is the lighted LCD Screen, which houses a great deal of information about the stud finder and its performance. When in the standard stud finder mode, it shows you how close you are to the edge of a stud. The device will also emit a steady beep and display a red guide light to help you mark for the edges. When you switch to the metal scanning mode, the LCD also shows you information about the location of the target, as well as how close or distant you are to it. The same is true in live AC wire scanning mode. In these modes, the wall scanner allows you to make multiple passes to refine the targeting, thanks to its self-calibrating sensor that constantly rescans the surface to pinpoint the exact location of any objects.
Best Line Laser / Stud Finder Combo
Black & Decker BDL190S BullsEye
We’ve seen a few good stud finders that bundle in other tool and sensor features to give you more functionality in a single device, but this one goes in a surprisingly different direction. In addition to a standard stud finder, this model is also a laser leveler, which means that it projects a laser line to help you mark a level horizontal line across the wall.
Perfect for Precision Mounting
Laser levelers are a helpful tool for a variety of different projects, ranging from simple tasks like hanging pictures or mirrors to more complex actions like mounting shelves or wall trimmings. It’s actually a really great tool to have integrated with a stud finder, since many of these projects are best performed when you know exactly where the wall studs are located.
To operate the stud finder, all you need to do is power on the device and move it across the wall until the digital display indicates that you’ve found a stud. Then, you can activate the laser level and have the device project two strong red laser lights from the left and right sides of the unit. If you’re comfortable with the position of the unit, you can go ahead and start marking lines across the laser lines to complete your project. However, if you need to make sure the lines are as straight and level as possible, then it’s time to take advantage of the auto leveling feature.
Auto Leveling Laser
Most standard laser levelers feature a leveling device that will tell you when it’s level on a horizontal plane through the use of a tiny air bubble inside a specially marked tube of liquid, where you have to move the unit yourself in order to achieve the level balance. Here, the stud finder is actually capable of leveling itself out so that you don’t have to do any of the adjusting. Once you locate a stud, or any spot on the wall that suits you, you can make use of the built-in marking hole to set a spot on the wall. Then, just remove the leveler, insert the included mounting pin, and place the unit back onto the wall. Once you fire up the guiding lasers, the device will adjust itself to display the beams in a straight, horizontal line without any additional input from you.
Top Rated DIY Home Use Stud Sensor
Dr.Meter Backlight AC Wire Scanner Wall Stud Finder
Taking on a home improvement project can be a tough task, especially when you have to start working with the walls and need to drill holes or nail into them. To make all of your DIY home projects easier, think about the Dr. Meter StudSensor, as it is built to be easy to use and is powerful enough to make virtually any home task simple and straightforward.
While you’re probably not going to be using this stud finder for hours on end, there’s still a huge benefit to having it feature an ergonomic design. First of all, being able to hold a tool in your hand comfortably and without difficulty makes it easier to use. In terms of a stud finder, easy to use means you’re going to get more accurate results and that you’re less likely to experience false positives and read errors. You always need to keep the unit close to the wall and move it in a smooth fashion, and when the device is hard to grasp and hold onto you’re more likely to accidentally pick it up during a pass and disrupt its scan. Also, this type of design makes it less likely that you will drop the scanner, since you’re going to be sweeping across a wall or up above you and a strong grip is essential to keeping it moving correctly.
User Friendly Features
There are a lot of great features on this stud finder that really make it an invaluable tool for any type of DIY renovation project. If you’re just trying to hang a few pictures, you can use the center stud feature to help you locate the strongest point on a stud so that you can drive in your nail or screw and trust that there’s more holding it in place than just the drywall. Or, if you’re doing some larger renovations and repairs, you can also use the device to locate metal objects in the wall or find the location of any live electrical wires. The backlit screen also makes it very easy to read the display, so you can always tell when you’ve located the center of a stud, a side, or any other target object.
Best Stud Finder with Simple Display
We’ve covered a lot of stud finders here that include some form of electronic display to show you different aspects of the device’s progress, mode selections, and more. But sometimes those displays can be a bit overwhelming to look at, and leave you feeling just confused about what’s going on. If you want an electronic stud finder that has a simple, easy to ready display, than the Sharkk Basics stud finder is just what you’ve been looking for.
Easy to Read LCD Screen
Like many electronic stud finders, this model has an LCD display that helps you understand what the device is doing while you use it, but thankfully the people over at Sharkk put a lot of effort into making that display very simple and very easy to read. Most of the screen consists of a series of bars that represent your proximity to any studs or objects in the wall; fewer bars appear the further away you are and more show up when you get close. Using a standard back and forth sweeping technique, the display is going to show you when you pass over the edges of the stud and then show one large, centralized peak when you reach the exact center of the stud. There are also simple icons that appear on the bottom of the display to show you what type of object you are detecting and how your battery life is holding up.
Simple Operation Technique
The layout of the LCD screen isn’t the only thing that’s easy about this stud finder, as Sharkk also designed it to be very simple to operate. There aren’t a ton of unnecessary buttons that you have to contend with, so the most you’re going to be doing is pressing the center Select button to switch between stud finder, metal detection, and wire scanning modes. As I mentioned above, each mode displays a different icon on the bottom of the display, so you’ll always know which one is active. All that’s left is to use a steady sweeping motion to scan the walls for the target object and wait for the display to signal you when you’ve found it. There’s also an audible alert beep that sounds when you’ve detected a stud edge, so you get a double warning and can always make proper marks for locations as you work.
Best Budget Stud Finder (Magnetic)
CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder
Let’s face it, there are a lot of construction and contracting tools out there that can be pretty complicated to use, so sometimes having one that’s simple and straightforward is best. That’s exactly why this magnetic stud finder from CH Hanson earns top marks and stands out from the rest.
No Batteries Required
Since this is a magnetic stud finder, that means that it doesn’t require any batteries to operate. As you might be able to guess from the name, it locates metal studs, nails, screws, and ac wires by using powerful magnets built right into the body of the tool. All you need to do is move the unit across the wall you’re working on and wait for the pull of the magnet to stop your motion. This makes it a much easier tool to keep around, since you never have to worry about replacing the battery or getting a faulty read due to low power. Magnetic stud finders also work in a wide range of wall material types, giving you even more uses so you can get more work done out on the job.
Comfort Grip Exterior
Sometimes using a stud finder like this requires you to move over a wall quite a bit in order to detect studs, so I was very pleased to learn that this stud finder features a built-in bubble level and a comfortable grip. It has contours on the left and right side, made to give you a better and more natural hold while you’re using it. Even better, the outer casing of the stud detector is a soft material, which makes it easy to pick up and hold for longer periods of time compared to other stud finders that are only made of hard plastic. You can never underestimate how important comfort and usability are in a tool like this, since even a little bit of discomfort over the long term can lead to some serious pain and injuries down the line.
Best Stud Finder Conclusion
I’ll bet you never thought you’d ever spend this much time reading about stud finders, but I’m sure that you’re glad you did. These are the best of the best out there when it comes to stud finders, and I’m confident that when you’re ready to make your purchase you’re going to end up picking one of the models above.
If you’re still not sure which stud finder is the one for you, make sure to check out the buying guide and all the other articles on the site. There’s a lot of information here to help you find studs – it’s time to figure out which model is going to best suit your needs!