Asked on Jan 28, 2018

What's the best way to find a stud through an old house wall?


We have an old house that still has lathe and plaster walls with drywall over top. We are having a terrible time trying to find the wall studs. We have tried a good quality stud finder, measurement, etc. etc. but still are off. We want to hang barn style doors over a doorway and really need to have an actual studs to mount it on the wall. Other than tearing the wall apart does anyone have any other suggestions?

  5 answers
  • Sharon Sharon on Jan 28, 2018

    Only way ..... magnets... best on a fine cord and use like a pendulum along the wall.... mark, do next one over and you will see how far the studs are spaced apart.

  • Gale Allen Jenness Gale Allen Jenness on Jan 28, 2018

    Even though studs should be 16” on center, that is not always the case! I’ve found walls with studs anywhere from 16”-24” on center. Especially with some of the newer homes are the worse in many cases. Which I go through homes installing cabinets a lot over the years hunting for studs. Sometimes you run into some weird situations that make you wonder what the heck was someone thinking?

    Old timers way of finding studs was making a fist and hitting the wall. It sounds hollow till you hit a stud that sounds like hitting a solid board. Many times you can ever feel the difference when you hit the wall. Before stud finders this is how many professionals found studs! But you can be fooled sometimes too, not always going to be right on the mark. Especially if your a novice! 99% of the time I hit the studs though! The magnate a great way too, but again can be fooled when there’s other metal in a wall for one reason or another! Never know what you’ll find in some walls? In fact some people have gotten rich when the walls were ripped into and found treasures hidden within. Like the people that bought a old home that found out the original owner had a movie theater and used all the old movie posters as insulation in his walls. They became wealthy over night!

  • DesertRose DesertRose on Jan 28, 2018

    You can buy a stud finder at the home improvement store, but my husband always finds them by very lightly tapping the wall with a steel hammer until he hears a sound that sounds solid. You will tell the difference when you hear it. Go lightly so not to damage the wall if you go by your ear. I would have to purchase a stud finder myself. They are usually located where they sell the levels and things of that nature in home improvement.

    • TERRY F TERRY F on Feb 27, 2018

      they don't work when you have a lathe and plaster wall with drywall over it...too thick for stud finder to penetrate.

  • Landsharkinnc Landsharkinnc on Feb 27, 2018

    in an older home you may need to locate EVERY stud, not rely on measuring from one to another after you find the first one ...