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Getting The Job Done Right
By: Darion Robinson
Finding a stud hidden inside a wall can be quite challenging, given that you aren’t using the right tool for the job. I am talking about stud finders. A stud finder may have several different names including stud detector or stud sensor, but it’s fundamentally a handheld tool that allows you to trace the framing studs inside a wall. So, before you hammer your way into your wall for installing shelves, hanging a picture, or mounting your television set, you should think about investing in a good-quality stud finder that will make your job easier.
And when I say ‘good-quality’, there are plenty of models available that don’t work equally. For this reason, it really is helpful if you educate yourself on what makes a perfect stud finder before purchasing one.
Who has time for that? No problem, I will make it easier for you. CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder (click to view on amazon.com) is my top pick for you. After hours of research and testing against other models, I found CH Hanson to be accurate, durable, and reliable, and since it is magnet-based, it doesn’t require any kind of calibration or batteries. CH Hanson incorporates two magnets compared to one in other magnet-based models. That means it doubles the scanning area while reducing the time it takes to get a hit.
*List recently updated for 2019
Let’s not take a more in-depth look at each of the 10 top rated stud finders and their reviews.
If you are looking for small, compact, hands-free, and affordable stud finder that will do its job with precision and accuracy, CH Hanson is for you. Don’t go for its looks, it is powerful and easily fits into your tool belt, toolkit, or even your pocket.
This battery-free stud finder offers 1-inch scan depth and features a two position level that enables you to find the most secure spot for mounting as well as leveling a mirror or picture.
You may be thinking why I included the cheapest model on top of my list. For starters, it is not always “expensive = better.” What I found interesting about CH Hanson is its rare earth magnets. That means it never needs calibration and doesn’t require batteries. The problem with battery-operated stud finders is that when the battery starts draining, the stud finders start losing their impact, their precision, which makes the job difficult. In the case of CH Hanson, it is not a problem. The strong magnets pinpoint the exact location of nails or screws in a stud.
Although CH Hanson Stud Finders offers soft grip for comfortable use, it is difficult to work on walls with brick coatings. This is because, in order to use CH Hanson, you need to place the device on the wall and sweep it in an ‘S’ pattern for locating screws and nails. Brick coatings have an uneven surface so sweeping the devices on such surface is difficult. I hope the manufacturers will find a solution for that.
Second on my list is Franklin Stud Finder. This is one of the most technically advanced stud finders available.
It uses multi-sense technology for locating studs in multiple locations on your wall. The bright LED lights glow up once it finds the studs inside the wall. It is a battery operated stud finder that uses 2AA batteries.
What I liked about this product is its ability to handle large-scale jobs with ease and precision. The LED locater lights simply beep at you upon finding the stud and the best part; its precision capability is so immaculate that it also detects other hidden objects. So you will never see yourself hammering or drilling through your plumbing or wiring. Moreover, Franklin Stud Finder can simultaneously scan the wall in up to 13 different locations in no time. This is the main reason it has been popular amongst professional workers. It works fast with higher accuracy as compared to models of the same price range.
While the innovative stud-sensor technology used in Franklin Stud Finder offers instant and effective results in detecting studs and similar objects, you will not get any other information out of it, as there is no LCD screen. Moreover, its price is one thing that you may find unreasonable.
For a beginner who is looking for a serious stud finder, Zircon i520-FFP Stud Finder offers an amazing amount of value. This stud scanner is relatively simple to use compared to other options available.
What makes it a professional’s choice is its ability to scan both the center and edges of the stud for pinpoint accuracy. Moreover, it can quickly detect live wires offering the necessary protection when you are drilling.
What I liked about this model is that it has the ability to detect metal under a metal. So it prevents you from accidentally drilling into a metal structure like a support bracket. On the other hand, the ingenious technology allows detecting both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Therefore, you can avoid drilling a hole into your plumbing as well. 1.5-inch scan depth is ample for easy stud tracking. Also, the standard scan can penetrate up to 3/4 inch allowing you to set the device to a more in-depth scan.
Its ergonomic design and easy application make it one of the best stud finders out there. However, there is one issue with i520-FFP Stud Finder. It fails to perform well on textured walls, which is a drawback because most homes and commercial buildings today have textured walls. This is one area where the manufacturers can work on to resolve this issue. This may be a design issue.
Vivreal Multi-Scanner Stud Finder boasts the ability to pinpoint metal and wood studs as well as electrical wires and steel pipes. It is one of the prominent stud finders used by professionals for commercial as well as residential purpose.
What makes it look a class apart is its easy-to-read LCD display. If you have big dreams for your walls, this is the stud finder you should go with. It runs on a 9-volt battery and offers a scanning depth of 1.5 inches.
This is a user-friendly stud finder, and I was genuinely impressed with the audible alerts it produced when I swept it over a stud. Not only that, you can switch to its deep scanning mode to wiring or metal pipes that lie within 1.5 inches beneath the wall surface. The product has a one-year limited warranty, which is good for a stud finder. Unlike other battery-operated stud finders, Vivreal Multi-Scanner Stud Finder will remind you to change the battery, as it gets low. Apart from the audible alerts, it will display the visual cues on its LCD display, making the job more comfortable for you.
Despite the brand’s claim, the Vivreal Multi-Scanner Stud Finder fails to detect copper pipes properly. Moreover, this stud finder sometimes indicates studs where there aren’t any studs. This is extremely frustrating. I hope that the manufacturer will work on these issues.
This is another stud finder from Zircon that has made my list. Although its specs are lower as compared to the i520-FFP, it works seamlessly offering a hassle-free operation.
The e50 Electronic Wall Scanner from Zircon finds the edge of the metal, woods studs, and beams behind floors, ceilings, or wall. Moreover, you will like its easy-to-read LCD display that shows the sides of the corners. It will not consume a lot of your time when scanning the wall for studs. It identifies the target within a matter of seconds. Its contour form and patented design provide a reliable, light clamp in any hand and at any angle, making it easy to use on any wall surface.
If you are a beginner, then I recommend you should avail this stud finder because of its user-friendliness. What intrigues me about its design and technology is that unlike other stud finders, e50 Electronic Wall Scanner indicates the presence of unshielded, live electrical wiring up to 2 inches deep. It has an ‘over-the-stud’ indicator that alerts you to start scanning in a new location. I also loved its patented ‘Truncal Technology’ that indicates when the device is calibrated and ready to use.
When I used this stud finder, I found out that it is difficult to scan in the concrete walls, which could be a problem for many users. On the other hand, there are no batteries present in the kit; you need to purchase them separately.
If you don’t want to spend much on a stud finder and are looking for a basic device that will accommodate your DIY projects at home, then I think you should go with Studpop Magnetic Stud Finder.
It is a very simple yet effective stud finder that locates studs by sensing metal fasteners on the stud and triggering a ‘popper’ that lets you know where the stud is. In terms of functionality, it is not as effective as CH Hanson, but it is accurate enough to tell you where the stud is. Like other magnetic stud finders, Studpop Magnetic Stud Finder doesn’t require batteries or any kind of calibration.
For me, this is the best budget stud finder. It works on all kinds of walls including lath, plaster, tile, and sheetrock. It uses a magnetic head and gives both visible and audible signal when it detects studs. The magnetic head stands straight until it finds a stud and once you have found the metal fastener, its center pops up. So it is an excellent piece of technology to have in homes for DIY projects like mounting planters, mirror, and other small tasks.
Studpop Magnetic Stud Finder isn’t as durable or compact as the CH Hanson. It uses a single magnet; hence the scanning area is limited. Moreover, when it comes to precision, it lacks there also, as you will need to double check before drilling a hole.
It is easy to find hidden studs using Profinder 5000. You can do it with or without sliding the device across the wall, thanks to the 13 precision sensors.
Each sensor offers individual scanning making the stud finder less vulnerable to the many inequalities that may occur in construction. Profinder 5000 can simultaneously see the wall in numerous places. This is one of the cheapest from my list and probably the best for professional stud scanning. Multiple sensors allow for greater accuracy, and with the inclusion of LED lights, it becomes even more easier to find studs inside the wall.
Unlike other battery-operated stud finders, this model doesn’t require any complicated calibration step every time you use it. Hence, I found it easy to understand and operate. Moreover, there is a built-in bubble level for precision, and the device offers a depth of 1.7 inches. The best part, it detects both metal and non-metal components like wood. The LED lights indicate where precisely the multiple studs are inside the wall.
Even after integrating innovative technology allowing the device to sense the wall in numerous locations, it sometimes fails to detect live wiring, which is a big drawback. Another reason why you may not want to purchase this stud finder is its high price.
This is probably the most technologically advanced stud finder you will ever see. I was astonished by the idea of combining an electronic stud sensor with a leveling laser.
It is designed to withstand the toughest projects without any inefficiency. Hence, I recommend this model to professional workers. However, if you love DIY projects and want to redecorate your wall, you can avail it as well. It is a battery-operated stud finder that runs on 2 AA alkaline batteries for improved peak performance and long-lasting operation overall. The design is compact and easy, making it convenient and ergonomic.
In my opinion, I think it tries to do too much. When I used this model, it felt like it doesn’t quite hit the mark at either task. It wasn’t easy to work with this model as, despite the laser level working brilliantly, the stud finder function was highly inaccurate. It may be probably because I am not a regular stud finder user. So I suggest using this model only if you have any exposure to stud finders and scanners.
I guess, if inexperienced individuals are using this model, the scanner functionality could be improved. It simply means that this model is not easy to understand and use unless you are a professional.
Bosch is a trusted name in the power tool manufacturing world. Its industry-grade stud finder is a state-of-the-art multi-scanning tool that has three standard detection modes – live wires, metal, and wood.
Multi-Scanner GMS120 is designed to identify both non-magnetic metal and wooden studs. You will hear an audible tone and see the detection ring flashes green the moment it hovers over the wall with stud beneath. It gives the precise location of the stud centers easily and quickly. If used on a smooth surface, the results will be more accurate. However, when I used this device on my textured wall surface, I moved it slowly over the surface and was not surprised that the results generated were precise and accurate.
My mind was blown away when got to know that Multi-Scanner GMS120 offers the maximum depth of 4 inches, which is probably the deepest of all the stud finders I have mentioned in this post. It gave me a clear three-dimensional picture of what was behind the wall surface I was scanning.
It is not the best live wire detector. For safety purpose, trusting on this device will not be recommended. Although all its features are impeccable but the fact that it fails to detect live wires killed my mood of purchasing this model. Again, if you are professional, you will know the general whereabouts of cables, so you can see it as a great tool.
Last on my list is another Zircon product. Zircon MetalliScanner m40 FFP stud finder is for those who work with a metallic surface. It is extremely difficult to find studs beneath a metallic surface, but this device solves the problem.
It is a custom designed stud finder that detects a variety of metal objects and supports behind the ceilings, walls, and floors. It can easily identify both non-ferrous and ferrous metals behind the non-metal walls as well. Apart from detecting metal supports and objects, this Stud finder is excellent at finding smaller items like nails and screws that are deeply embedded into the wall.
Zircon MetalliScanner m40 FFP solves complex problems locating structures behind the plastered walls by identifying wooden cover and nails. It is easy to use and operate, thanks to its patentable and accurate scanning features. It was easy controlling the device using a single button, and both professional and non-professional users will find it great. The audio tone and blue coil indicate when the metal target is located.
It says that it works better on a wood surface, but when I was using the device, I ran it over an old board. It came up clean although there was a small finish nail. So, its precision and accuracy may work for metal and concrete surfaces, but on softer surfaces like wood, it lacks the functionality.
There are several factors to consider when looking for a stud finder. You need a stud finder that will accommodate your requirements
Audio detection is one primary aspect in some of the stud finders. It notifies the user when it has found a stud.
LED lights are helpful visual indicators that light up when the device have found a stud or other object.
Nowadays, every stud finder comes with a built-in level. It allows you to draw a straight line so that you can hang a mirror or painting evenly.
This is the most critical aspect that you need to consider. Hands-free usage means that when the device detects a stud inside the wall, it attaches itself to the wall.
Yes, they do if you know how to use them properly. Thus why we have offered a helpful users guide for you.
Yes, stud finder and their apps make it easy to find studs, screws, or nails in the walls.
Magnetic stud finders don’t require any calibration or batteries. They are precise and accurate and will prove to be useful for small DIY jobs.
Remember one thing, the stud finder you liked and chose may not be perfect for everyone. Everyone has different taste and criteria so only purchase a stud finder based on the features you want. The mentioned stud finders are tried and tested personally by me, and I have tried to give you an honest review of all of them. It was my opinion on the models, but it doesn’t mean the things I didn’t like in specific models will also make you hate it. Everyone has different preferences, so choose accordingly.
By Darion Robinson
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