Asked on May 16, 2017

What is the best way to find a stud behind a paneled wall?

Bill Kratz
by Bill Kratz
  9 answers
  • Sus7887901 Sus7887901 on May 16, 2017

    You can buy a stud finder pretty cheap at your local hardware store

  • David David on May 16, 2017

    If you don't have an electronic stud finder, tap the area with your knuckle and listen. As you approach the stud, the hollow sound will disappear. Try it.

  • Bill Kratz Bill Kratz on May 16, 2017

    Thank you for your suggestions

  • Invest in a studfinder if you are going to do any DIY as a decent one is not expensive. Until then use the tapping method. Studs will be as close as 12" on center, but typically 16" and in older homes no more than 24". Have fun!

  • Sharon Susa Courchesne Sharon Susa Courchesne on May 16, 2017

    If you don't have an electronic stud finder you can measure from known studs. Although the electronic stud sensor is the best device on the market for stud finding, it is not 100% accurate. Sometimes non-standard wall construction or other obstructions in the wall result in either false readings or no reading at all. That's where the old-fashioned method of measuring from known wall studs is handy to know.

    During construction of a home, wall studs are normally placed 16 inches apart. Since room corners and door and window edges are always framed by studs, try measuring out horizontally from these points. Odds are that you will find studs at about 16-inch intervals.

    For example, if you have a door and a window on a wall that are 8 feet apart, studs will normally be found between the door and window at 16, 32, 48, 64 and 80 inches.

    When you have noted the multiple of 16 inches from the known wall stud in the desired mounting area, drive a thin nail into the wall to determine your accuracy. If you miss the stud, try the nail again one inch left or right of the first hole.

    Another variation on this technique is to measure laterally on the wall from the edge of light switches, electrical outlets or heating/air conditioning registers because these are always mounted on wall studs during construction.

    When measuring from a heat/AC register, hold the end of the tape at either the left or right of it, as there are studs on both sides. When measuring from an outlet or switch, try either side first since they attach to only one stud. If your first attempt is incorrect, try measuring from the opposite side.

    Knock on the wall. Still another method of stud location is to literally knock on the wall several times at the desired mounting location, and then left and right of it. A hollow sound means there is no stud, while a solid sound means you have probably hit the jackpot. Try the nail test at the spot where you hear the solid sound to assure that you have indeed found the stud.

    Look for dimples on the wall. The least consistent, but often successful stud finding technique to try on a drywall surface is to look for depressions or "dimples" on the wall that indicate nails.

    During construction the drywall sheets are nailed to every wall stud, and then the nails are covered with a thin layer of compound to give a smooth, finished surface. Sometimes, though, the finish work on the wall is not as good as it should be, and with very close examination, slight dimples can be seen where the nails penetrate the drywall into the studs.

    If you find such an irregularity in the mounting area, you can be almost 100% certain it indicates a stud.

    When looking for wall studs behind a wood panel wall, look closely for colored nail heads in the grooves of the panels. Any nails you find probably penetrate a wall stud behind the paneling.

  • Ginny Ginny on May 16, 2017

    Invest in a stud finder available at any big box or local hardware store - very inexpensive.

  • Ginny Ginny on May 16, 2017

    Stud finders don't have to be electronic. I purchased one that fits into the palm of my hand.

  • Chubby58 Chubby58 on May 16, 2017

    Try a heavy duty magnet. That will let you know where the nails are. From there you can pretty much guess a stud is behind it.

  • Bill Kratz Bill Kratz on May 19, 2017

    Thanks to all respondents. I found my studs are 16" apart and completed my project without any difficulty.