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The best stud finders

Mounting a TV over the weekend? What about a wall of family photos? Sounds like you’re going to need a stud finder. An essential DIY tool for any homeowner or renter, the best stud finders should be well-equipped to dissect your walls with features like LCD screens, wire detection, audible chimes, and magnetized stud detection.

Before we start, a quick word about apps. While there are many apps for detecting studs on a variety of platforms, these are not real stud finders and — as the ratings often show — thus have a very poor track record. Smartphones simply aren’t designed to reliably detect studs in your wall (at least not yet). It’s a little like using the butt of a screwdriver as a hammer: There’s a chance it may work, but it’s definitely not the right tool for the job. That said, check out our list of the best stud finders below.

CH Hanson 03040

CH Hanson
Cheap, simple, and reliable, this is one of the best-selling stud finders around for people who don’t want to waste their money or time. You probably know how it feels to need a tool, and the extreme frustration when that tool doesn’t work. This magnetic unit uses the traditional system of magnets to locate studs, so there are no batteries to worry about replacing and no fear of running out of power in the middle of hanging your TV.

It also comes with the “bubble vial” common in levels, so you can make quick adjustments on the fly and ensure everything is even (no laser sightlines included, though). There aren’t many extra features on this model, and it is a specialized tool for homeowners, but that is probably exactly what most of you are looking for, which is why it gets top billing on our list.

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Zircon i65

Zircoin i65
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If you want broader functionality and more ease of use than the simple CH Hanson model provides, this Zircon stud finder should be right up your alley. It has a small LCD screen that shows you exactly where the stud’s center is and offers audio cues to help you quickly locate additional studs. Then there is the surprisingly handy wire warning feature, which detects the presence of live wires up to two inches into the wall, which is especially useful for contractors, but also nice for homeowners who would rather not ruin their own wiring when doing a little DIY work. The downside is that these extra features increase the price.

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ProSensor 710 Franklin

ProSensor 710
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This model offers remarkable stud-finding ability and can work equally well for ambitious DIYers or professionals. It has a broad horizontal sensor setup that allows you to get a good look at the wall, with a row of LED lights that mark exactly where objects begin and end for more detailed work (up to 1.5 inches deep). However, the 710 is a one-trick pony: It can detect studs and similar objects, but you won’t get any other information out of it — there’s no LCD screen and no live wire detection. But what it does, it does extremely well.

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Stanley FatMax Stud Sensor 300

Stanley FatMax Stud Sensor
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This Stanley model is a step closer to the professional-grade, ideal if you are undertaking a big project, move around a lot, or just really want to hang a bunch of things on your walls. It includes a backlit LCD screen for low-light conditions and auto-calibration that makes setup a whole lot easier. There are also a couple of secondary detection features that can sense live wires, as well as any metal present up to three inches in the wall, which is useful for a lot more than just finding studs.

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Black and Decker BDL190S

Black-Decker BDL100S
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Black and Decker created this sturdy, top-tier stud finder with durability and dependability in mind for all projects, big or small. Professional construction companies routinely use them for large-scale building, and homeowners can benefit just as much from them for their do-it-yourself installations. It includes auto-leveling tech and projects little horizontal lines so you can make your marks with confidence. The LCD screen is particularly full of information, showing you studs, metal studs, and live wires. A wall attachment accessory allows you to lock it in place for more involved projects. Note that you will need a couple of AA batteries to run this weighty stud finder.

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Vivreal 4-in-1 Stud Finder and Wall Scanner

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If you have been exasperated with stud finders in the past and prefer one that can tell you more, this model may be a good option. It features an LCD and four different scanning modes: Stud scan, deep scan, metal scan, and AC scan. You’ll be able to pinpoint exactly what lies behind your walls down to the material, shape, and purpose. It can detect things like live wires, metal, and studs. Plus, automatic calibration makes this device easy to use, and the price is very reasonable, too.

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Studpop Magnetic Studfinder

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If you aren’t the ambitious type, and you’re looking for a user-friendly, affordable, and reliable stud finder to use in your home, then Studpop is the product for you. You put the button-like model on the wall. It pops up when sensing a stud. You put a screw on the spot and you’re done. It works on common materials like sheetrock, plaster, lathe, and tile, and doesn’t require any batteries. If you are hanging shelves or mounting simple objects around the house, you may want a casual stud finder you can keep in a kitchen drawer and pull out when needed.

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Editors' Recommendations

Michael Bizzaco
Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from…
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