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13 Different Types of Stud Finders

A photo collage of different types of stud finders.

The first stud finder, an electronic type, was first introduced in the 1980s. It was designed by Robert Franklin and invented for the sole purpose of — as its name suggests — finding studs. As a prototype, it was a black soapbox design that came with upward cascading lights that illuminated when it found a stud.

As stud finders evolved, newer models can now locate not just metal and wood studs but also live AC electrical wiring and studs in lath and plaster walls. These hand-held devices have found their way into every contractor and do-it-yourselfer’s toolbox.


1. Electronic Stud Finders

A close up photo of a hand holding a electronic stud finders.

Electronic stud finders have proven to be some of the most prevalent tools on the market in modern times. For the most part, these stud finders are fairly simple to use. They are a bit more complicated than a traditional magnetic stud finder but many people prefer these tools due to their visual display options. Having access to an electronic stud finder is going to allow you to find studs very easily and you won’t have to feel concerned about whether or not you are properly locating the stud.

Most people consider these electronic stud finders to be slightly more accurate than traditional magnetic stud finders. You will get a display of exactly where the stud is located as it works to find the edges of the stud effectively. Using this electronic stud finder is fairly intuitive as you will only have a few different buttons to press in order to get the job done. Modern electronic stud finders mostly seek to minimize the number of buttons to keep confusion at a minimum, though there are some electronic stud finders with more robust features.

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One of the negatives about this type of stud finder is that it is powered by batteries. This isn’t too much of an inconvenience when you think about it. As long as you pay attention to whether the battery is good, you will be able to have a smooth experience while using this type of stud finder. You just want to test it out ahead of time to ensure that your batteries do not need to be replaced before taking it on an important job.

The biggest reason that people choose electronic stud finders is that they give them more information than a standard magnetic model. When you use these types of stud finders, you will be able to determine the location of the studs in your walls with a little more nuance. This can make for more effective planning and will certainly prove to be useful in many situations. As long as you don’t mind that this tool uses batteries, it is definitely a recommended option for finding studs.

2. Magnetic Stud Finders

The StudBuddy magnetic stud finder.

Source: Amazon

One of the most common types of stud finders on the market is the magnetic stud finder. You will see these being used by many people as they are very simple to operate and affordable to purchase. These stud finders work by using magnetic sensors to detect studs in your wall. They’re really very accurate and you will have a very simple time whenever you need to hang something if you have this stud finder handy.

You can stick this type of magnetic stud finder right on the wall to find where the studs are located. Understanding this method to find studs is very simple so anyone should be able to use this tool effectively. Many people decide to go with the magnetic stud finders because they are elegant in their simplicity. You won’t have to deal with reading any complicated information on a screen when you choose one of these.

Another reason that these are popular is that they don’t require any sort of batteries. This type of stud finder is using magnets to effectively locate the studs for you. You don’t need to power it in order for it to work and it doesn’t even have any moving parts. This is going to allow you to know that this stud finder is going to last you a really long time.

To add to this, these magnetic stud finders are extremely portable. Most stud finders aren’t large but these types in particular are very easy to take around with you. They can fit conveniently inside most types of toolboxes or storage chests so you can always have access to it when you need them the most. This might be the simplest and most effective way of finding studs for the average person.

If you want to purchase a stud finder that is going to work effectively without being too cumbersome, then it would be beneficial for you to seek out a magnetic stud finder. You will find that these stud finders are often among the most affordable options available. They are readily available at most major retailers and will come in handy whenever you need to drill into a wall. You should always have one of these in your toolbox to keep yourself safe.

3. Whole Stud Detector

The Ryobi LED Whole Stud Detector is a great product for detecting whole studs behind your wall.

Source: Amazon

One of the more interesting types of stud finders is known as a whole stud detector. You see, most stud detectors work to detect the edges of a stud and will help you to locate the center of it. This stud detector works completely differently as it can help you to detect the whole stud. This gives you more information and you are able to understand the full depth of the stud in question.

People who work doing construction or building service jobs absolutely love these types of stud finders. They are able to provide a little bit more information than some of the other types and they are still very easy to use. They’re good for being used in your home because it will allow you to accurately find studs without having to stumble around. You can operate this stud finder with two hands and reading the information is very easy too.

This stud finder has a convenient feature known as auto depth scan. It allows the stud finder to determine the exact thickness of the drywall and knowing this information is going to make you more prepared to do your job. When you know how thick the drywall is, you will have a much better idea of what to expect. Other stud finders don’t have this type of scanning capability so this is something that makes whole stud detectors uniquely appealing.

These whole stud detectors are very sought-after because of this. Many professionals prefer having this more accurate information as it can give them the ability to measure their approach more accurately. Being able to know just how deep a stud goes into a wall is good information to have and it will definitely make your life a lot easier if you work a building repair service job of some sort. Best of all, these types of stud finders aren’t even necessarily that much more costly so you can easily justify buying one.


4. Stationary Magnetic Stud Detectors

StudMark magnetic stud finder with 2 removable magnet markers.

Source: Amazon

Some stud finders use a stationary magnet in order to detect where a stud is located inside of your wall. The magnet is able to easily detect both the nails and screws that are inside your wall. You move the magnet around the wall and wait to feel the magnetic pull in order to determine where the stud is located. In some ways, this can be a little less accurate than other methods used in stud-finding tools.

Even if it is a little more reliant on your own ability to feel the magnetic pull, these stud finders have proven to be very popular over the years. They are convenient because they don’t need to use any sort of batteries in order to function properly. Just about anyone will understand the concept behind how to detect a stud in this fashion. It’s an easy tool to use but it might not be the most accurate one available for the job.

It should also be noted that these types of stud finders are a little more inexpensive than the others on average. All of the styles of stud finders that you can buy aren’t overly pricey. These stationary magnetic stud detectors are even more affordable and have been in use for a very long time. If you want to purchase a reliable stud finder at the most inexpensive price possible, then this style is going to appeal to you greatly.

Problems with this type of stud finder arise when the stud is buried too deeply into the wall. If your stud is located too far back, then the magnetic pull might wind up being very weak. This can lead to you not being able to accurately predict where the stud is located using this specific tool. It isn’t common for a stud to be set so far back into the wall that you cannot feel the magnetic pull with your stud detector so you shouldn’t shy away from this style of stud finder if it appeals to you.

5. Moving Magnetic Stud Detectors

Project stud finder Plus, durable high impact plastic base with clear acrylic lens, strong, Red indicator magnet, acrylic yellow barrel vial.

Source: Amazon

The other style of magnetic stud finder is known as a moving magnetic stud detector. This differs from the stationary style by using a moving magnet to allow you to more easily detect where a stud is located. These powerful magnets are capable of detecting studs even when they are located deep inside a wall. This is going to eliminate many of the potential problems that you might have with a stationary magnetic stud detector.

The magnet itself is kept in a natural position until it feels the pull of the nearby stud. Once it detects the stud, the magnet will move and will make an audible noise to let you know that it has found the stud. The magnetic pull is powerful enough to cause significant noise and you will very easily be able to notice how the magnet is moving toward the stud. If the stud in the wall is located at a fairly shallow point, then you will notice that the magnetic reaction will be particularly powerful.

This style of stud finder is really easy to use and it is also very effective. It has the advantages of the stationary magnetic stud detector without having the negatives. These are the most popular type of magnetic stud finders among professionals because they are so reliable. These are quite simple to store in a toolbox and you will have an easy time taking one with you wherever you need to go.

Moving magnetic stud detectors are also very affordable. You won’t have to pay out too much of your hard-earned money to add this reliable tool to your collection. It will definitely prove to be a worthwhile purchase so if this option looks as if it will work well for you, then it makes sense to seek one out. It does have its advantages over electronic models.

6. Electronic Edge Finders

Stud finder, wireless wall stud sensor detector and wall scanner

Source: Amazon

These electronic edge finders are the most common electronic stud finder that you will see on the market. Many people purchase these when they need to hang up some pictures or drill a TV mount into the wall. These electronic edge finders work by locating the edges of the stud itself. Sometimes it may also work by effectively determining where the edges of the material behind the walling is.

This allows you to accurately determine where you need to drill or hammer to hit the stud. Overall, these edge finders are not too difficult to use once you know what you are doing. You have to move the edge finder in both directions so that you can get a full reading of where both edges of the stud are located. This is going to allow you to determine exactly what you need to know and you will be able to proceed without issues.

Some people don’t like these types of stud finders because they don’t actually give you any information about where the center of the stud is. You will need to determine this yourself using the data that is available to you after locating the edges. This is actually really easy once you know where the edges are but if you would prefer to have information about the center, then you may want to look for a different style of stud finder.

7. Electronic Center Finders

WELQUIC electric center-finding stud finder with 3-in-1 metal AC wires wood scanner with backlit LCD screen and beeping signal alert.

Source: Amazon

Electronic center finders are perhaps the most popular form of electronic stud finders. These devices work to accurately locate the center of the stud in your wall. They are able to do so by using two sensors to get a thorough reading of your wall. You will be looking for two matching readings in order to determine where the center of your stud is located.

The data that these electronic center finders are able to provide you with is a little easier to make use of for some people. Overall, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get two readings to match. You just need to move the stud finder along the wall and wait for the two sensors to match up. This will let you locate a stud very quickly on average so you will be able to get jobs done pretty fast.

Of course, this type of stud finder is going to be using batteries in order to function. You will find that this type of stud finder is actually very energy efficient so you won’t have to change batteries too often. This is a convenient option that you will be able to use to great effect. It doesn’t hurt that you can purchase this style of stud finder at a reasonable price, either.

8. Instant Stud Finders

Franklin Sensors ProSensor 710+ professional stud finder with built-in bubble level and ruler.

Source: Amazon

A more recent innovation in the world of stud-finding devices is the instant stud finder. This differs significantly from other electronic stud-finding devices. You see, this type of stud finder uses a plethora of different sensors in order to detect where the stud is located behind your wall. You don’t have to move it around the wall as you do with edge finders and center finders.

It uses a complex algorithm to interpret the data that it is receiving from its sensors. You just place the instant stud finder on the wall and it uses its hardware to locate your stud. It is extremely simple to use as all you need to do is place it on the wall and it will accurately locate the stud. This eliminates any and all guesswork that goes into stud finding.

The drawback to this is that it is more expensive than other styles of stud finders. You could purchase a more inexpensive stud finder and still be able to get the same results even if it does take slightly longer. For those who want to save time, this is going to be a worthwhile investment. It isn’t exorbitantly expensive or anything and it works very well.


9. Automatic Shut-Off Function

Portable sensitive multifunctional wall metal detector scanner equipped with an auto shut-off function powered by a piece of 9V battery.

Source: Amazon

When you are using an electronic stud finder, you want to be able to make the batteries last as long as possible. One way to ensure that you are getting the best battery life that you can is to purchase a stud finder with an energy-saving feature. Some electronic stud finders have an automatic shut-off feature that will save you a lot of battery life. When the stud finder is not in use, it will shut off automatically to keep you from unnecessarily draining the battery.

10. Auto Depth Detection

Ryobi whole stud detector with auto depth scan.

Source: Amazon

One of the most popular features that some of the more advanced whole stud detectors have is known as auto depth detection. It allows you to determine the entire thickness of the drywall, giving your much more information to work with. When you have all of the right information, you will be able to make more effective plans. This means that your job is going to go even more easily and you will be safer than ever before.

These stud finders that feature auto depth detection are incredibly convenient. You might expect that this feature would cause the price to go up significantly in the unit but this is not the case. You can purchase stud finders with this desirable feature at a very reasonable price. It can be worthwhile to own a stud finder with these capabilities so you may want to seek one of these out for yourself.

11. LED Display

The ProSensor 710 incorporates innovative stud sensing technology that instantly finds hidden studs

You will find that there are many types of stud finders that come with a convenient LED display. This feature is really nice as it will show you an outline of the center of the stud as well as its edges. This allows you to have the most accurate information possible so that you can feel more confident in whatever you’re doing. It isn’t difficult to find a stud finder that makes use of this handy feature so be on the lookout for it if this appeals to you.

Source: Amazon

Multi-Mode Detection

Stud finder, multifunction edge-finding scanning and large LCD display and warning detection for AC wire,metal,wall,studs and wood.

Source: Amazon

You will be able to find certain types of stud finders that will offer you a multi-mode detection feature. This is really nice as it allows you to easily find metal studs and wooden studs. You will also be able to determine the depth of the wall and can locate any AC wire that is present. All of this information will prove to be incredibly useful when you want to safely hang things so purchasing a stud finder with this feature is highly recommended.

12. Two-Way Level

CH Hanson magnetic stud finder with two-way level feature.

Source: Amazon

Certain stud finders will even feature levels to make things even more convenient for you. Everyone who has used a stud finder before will be able to tell you that it is important to be able to mark off where the stud is located. Having a level present is going to make it that much easier to make a marking and you will have an easy experience every time. Simply having access to a level is going to make any job a little easier and not having to grab a separate tool for the task is a real convenience.

13. Hands-Free Use

Aikotoo hands-free magnetic stud finder sensor with wall, wood and stud finder detector.

Source: Amazon

Some magnetic stud finders are powerful enough that they are able to tout a hands-free use feature. The magnets will be able to attach themselves to the surface of your wall due to the magnetic pull of the stud itself. This can make things really convenient when you need to mark off the location of the stud as you will have your hands free to make the marking. Many professionals love this feature as it just streamlines the process and makes things go even more quickly.

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