Outdoor decorations add a touch of whimsy to your garden, shed, or home. Trying to get them to hang straight can mean taking them down, rearranging and adjusting them, and putting them back up. If you’re trying to accomplish this on your own, it’s very easy to get frustrated because it’s hard to gauge whether or not something is hanging level and straight when you’re right up to it. You need to step back a few feet to get a good perspective, and this isn’t possible when you’re alone. However, a quality stud finder can help you find secure areas to anchor your heavier items into your wall, and many of them have levels to help you hang things neat and evenly.
But, how do you pick out a stud finder if you’re ready to upgrade your current one or pick one out for the first time? There are so many different types of stud finders and brands available that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and pick the first one you see. You don’t want to do this because you may get a subpar product that doesn’t perform as well as you need it to. This is where my top picks with reviews and buyer’s guide comes in. You can use these two resources to pick out the best stud finder for your needs and get your outdoor decorations up in time for the summer season.
Using a stud to hang your outdoor baskets gives it a firm anchor point into the wall to reduce the chances of it pulling away from the wall and falling. This is extremely important if you hang larger baskets because they’ll get heavier as you water them.
1. BLACK+DECKER Line Laser – Top Pick
The Black+Decker BullsEye Line Laser allows you to get dual tools in one purchase that makes it a great thing to have when you’re mounting or hanging heavy items on your outdoor shed that need to be completely straight and have stud support to keep them hanging. You can easily use it to hang televisions, garden signs, heavy artwork, shelving units, mirrors, storage cabinets, and much more. You can use this study finder to locate hidden objects in the wall like metal pipes, studys, live AC wires, or wooden support beams. It works well on lathe, drywall, concrete walls, and plaster without failing to locate the items in your wall.
All you have to do is press the power button and hold it down while you work and slide the stud finder across your wall. When the tool senses a stud or something in the wall, it’ll emit a beeping noise to alert you. There is also a small pin on the back of this stud finder that lets you anchor it to the wall while you work, and the line function puts out a red laser light up to 20-feet in both directions horizontally to ensure you hang your items straight. It comes with two AA batteries to power it and a two-year limited warranty.
- Runs on two AA batteries
- Two tools in one
- Has a laser level
- Comes with an audible beeping noise
- Two-year limited warranty
- Ergonomic design
- Very user-friendly
- Have to depress the button and hold it down for it to work
2. Zircon MetalliScanner – Step-Up Pick
A lot of stud finders miss metal objects when you run it over your wall or surface, and this can result in you accidentally running into it when you drill or pound nails into the surface. This is a custom-designed stud finder that will locate a broad range of metal objects and supports from behind walls, floors, and your ceilings quickly and easily. It will detect both non-ferrous and ferrous metals hidden behind non-metal walls, ceilings, or floors. It’s great for finding metal studs and support structures, and it can help you locate nails and screws that are deeply embedded into the wall up to four inches in.
When this stud finder hits on any metallic object in your wall, it has a blue coil that will light up blue to alert you and help you pinpoint the hidden items’ location. This product runs on a 9-volt battery, and you have to hold the sensor parallel to whatever you want to scan to get it to work. As you get closer to the item, the red sensor lights will start to climb up the stud finder before lighting up the coil blue when you pass right over them. It comes with a battery to allow you to use it right away, and this is a very durable and ergonomic stud finder that is easy to use for extended periods.
- Locates a range of metal objects
- Finds ferrous and non-ferrous metals
- Easy to pinpoint objects
- Ergonomic design
- Very user-friendly
- Has easy-open packaging
- Lasts a long time
- Not suitable for wooden studs
3. Bosch GMS120 Digital Stud Finder – Mid-End Budget Pick
If your kids like to put together a range of tin can crafts, this stud finder is a great choice to help you locate areas in your wall to hang them. This product comes with a multi-scanning option that is comfortable for you to hold in more awkward positions, and this makes it easier and safer to perform overhead work without worrying about pieces of plaster or drywall coming down on you. You get a very ergonomic design that houses a multi-mode sensing tool that can detect everything from metal support objects, wooden studs, and live AC wiring all in one pass without missing anything vital.
It works well when you’re trying to locate items in your floors because it has a 4.75-inch depth scan on it, and it can work well on thicker materials like cured concrete. You get a bright LCD display with detection signals that give you a decent amount of feedback to help you locate and take note of things below the surface. It can also detect live wiring at two-inches deep, copper at 3 ⅛-inches deep, and wooden studs 1 ½-inches deep. It’s a self-calibrating model that has three selection modes, and it’ll give you precise detection abilities.
- Ergonomic design
- Multi-scanning capabilities
- LCD screen
- Detection up to 4.75-inches
- Lets out audible signals
- Precise detection abilities
- User-friendly design
- Takes multiple passes to find the studs
4. CRAFTSMAN Stud Finder – Bargain Budget Pick
This is a very budget-friendly and basic stud finder from Craftsman, and it doesn’t come equipped with a lot of extra features. However, it gets the job done when you use it. It weighs in less than four-ounces, and it’s 5.5-inches long to help you fit it into tighter spaces without a problem. You need a 9-volt battery to run this product, but all you have to do is push the power button once you start it up. You’ll see a green light and hear a beep to indicate that it’s ready to go, but you have to hold the power button down to keep it working and avoid sleep mode.
When the stud finder runs into a hidden stud edge, the “Edge” light on the unit will shine and you’ll hear a beep. It works well on fabric and wallpaper, and it has a depth range of ¾-inches through drywall. It can find wooden and metal studs, and you get both a shock and water-resistant body that is very durable and long-lasting. It can also find live wires in the wall or ceiling, and the smaller design makes it very easy to store. You get a bright red coloring that makes it easy to spot when you put it down.
- Smaller design
- Has an edge indicator
- Can find live wires and metal or wood studs
- Works through wallpaper, drywall, and fabric
- Has a ¾-inch maximum depth location
- Shock and water-resistant design
- Bright red coloring
- More shallow depth range
5. CRAFTSMAN Stud Finder – Best For DIYers
Anyone who is trying to decorate their apartment could use this center-finding stud finder from Craftsman. It has LEDs that indicate your scan status as you pass it over the wall, and it’ll light up when you hit the center of the stud. It’ll turn orange when you locate the edge and red for the center, and you’ll get accurate results over ¾-inch or ½-inch drywall. There is also an AC detection mode on this product that will indicate when you get between three and four-inches from live wiring in your wall. If you use repeated passes, you’ll be able to tell the wire’s direction to avoid it.
The standard scan mode on this stud finder lets you find copper piping as well, and you get a metal model that allows you to detect metallic studs and pipes in the wall, ceiling, or floor. It has a compact and lightweight build to it that makes it easy to maneuver, take from point A to point B, and store between uses without taking up a large amount of space. You also get triple laser distance measurers with a click of a button, and you get an ergonomic grip that is comfortable to hold for extended periods.
- Ergonomic grip
- Detects wires and studs
- AC detection mode with standard scan mode
- Easy to store
- Comes from a reputable brand
- LED indicators
- Live wire scan is vague
6. Ryobi Whole Stud Detector – Best For
This stud detector from Ryobi helps you find your stud first, and then it’ll show you how wide the stud is by lighting up the LEDs. Whichever LEDs are over the stud are the ones that light up, and the ones that aren’t over it will stay dark. It’ll find both wooden and metal studs under ¾-inch and ½-inch drywall without a problem, and it can also pick up pipes. However, it won’t be able to tell you which metal or material the pipes are when you find them. It also detects live AC wires in five-inch sweeps, and you can use it to follow the wire’s paths to get a decent idea of where they are before you start pounding into the wall or ceiling.
There is an Auto Depth scan on this stud finder that will tell you how thick your drywall is when you sweep it over it, and it can find wood, non-ferrous metals, and more. You can use this product with one hand because it’s very lightweight and compact, and it works well for hanging items in your home like pictures, televisions, or decorations. It has a bright green coloring that makes it easy to spot when you put it down, and the body feels solid to the touch.
- Shows you how wide the stud is
- Can find live wires, metal studs, and wooden studs
- Lightweight and compact design
- Lime green coloring
- Has Auto Depth scan
- Works behind drywall up to ½ and ¾-inches thick
- User-friendly design
- Customer service is hard to reach
7. Relaxoul Stud Finder – Best For Outdoor Use
Tackling outside projects like building your greenhouse, fixing your patio, or adding a deck can require the use of a durable stud finder, and this makes a great pick. It comes with an intelligent microprocessor chip that has a very high sensitivity rating that allows you to rapidly and precisely detect pipes, wood, AC wires, and metal that is hidden in the floors, ceilings, or walls of your house. You get five scanning modes on this product, including a ½-inch, 1-inch, and a 1 ½-inch scanning mode to help you find the center and edges of metal, joists, woods, beams, or embedded objects. The metal scanning mode will help you detect non-ferrous or ferrous metals up to 2.36-inches in the wall, and the AC scan will help you find unshielded 80 to 240-volt lines that are up to 2-inches deep.
The chip will make the stud finder beep and flash when it locates one of these items in your walls, and it automatically calibrates each time you use it. This makes it easy to detect most objects below the surface of your walls, floors, or ceiling. There is a bright LCD display on this stud finder with audible warnings to ensure you don’t miss anything, and it’ll let you know the direction and distance of anything you detect. There is also a low battery indicator light.
- Microprocessor chip included
- Detects wood, metal, and AC wires
- Five scanning modes
- Beeps and flashes for detection
- Has a low battery indicator light
- Bright LCD screen
- Battery can drain quickly
8. FOLAI Stud Finder – Best For Installing Cabinets
This is a specially designed stud finder that has some of the most advanced sensor technology on the market that will help you quickly and accurately locate fire lines, metal piping, wooden frames, studs, support beams, and steel bars that are behind your ceilings, walls, or floors. You can five scanning modes with this item, including a StudScan Mode that will scan through 1.5-inch thick drywall. DeepScan Mode is another option it comes with, and this mode allows you to scan through dual layers of drywall with a higher sensitivity level to help pinpoint your items.
It has WireWarning detection on it that will find live wires up to 2.5-inches in the wall, and this mode is always on to ensure you don’t accidentally miss something as you work. You get an LCD display with a sound that plays when you locate your studs, and it’ll help you locate both the center and edges of the studs in the walls. The LCD display indicates your stud’s direction by beeping louder when you get closer to it. It has a very ergonomic design on it with a comfortable grip that makes it easy to use for hours at a time to hang all of your cabinets with confidence.
- Five scanning modes included
- WireWarning detection is always on
- LCD display
- Finds a host of items in the walls
- Ergonomic design
- Very user-friendly
- Quick customer service team
- Instructions are confusing
9. Beam Finder Wall Scanner – Best For
It’s nice to have a reliable stud finder on hand when the holidays come around and you want to hang all of your heavier Christmas or Easter crafts with confidence. This stud finder has a newly upgraded design to it with a larger LCD display that is much easier to see from any angle, and the unique shape allows you to get a very firm but comfortable grip that allows you to hold it completely still. It’s also very lightweight, and this makes it a very portable option that is easy to take with you or use for extended periods without any fatigue.
This stud finder can also help you find more than just traditional studs. It has five scanning modes on it, including a Stud/Deep Mode for metal or wooden studs up to 1.5-inches deep, Metal Mode to find copper, rebar, steel pipes, and joists, or AC mode to find unshielded, live wires up to two-inches deep. You can use this at home or in a commercial-grade setting with ease, and it comes with an automatic calibration setting built into the design. This feature makes it more accurate and easier to use.
- Equipped with multiple scanning modes
- Automatically calibrates
- LCD display
- Newly redesigned
- Ergonomic and portable
- Can detect wire, metal, and wood
- Very accurate
- Doesn’t give consistent results
10. StudBuddy Magnetic Stud Finder – Best For Drywall Applications
The final stud finder on the list is an extremely simple product from StudBuddy. All you have to do is hang it on the wall for a hands-free operation, and this gives you a visual reference when it comes time to hang your cabinets, shelving units, mirrors, paintings, televisions, or other heavy objects. It works on drywall by locating screws and nails in metal or wooden studs, and you don’t have to worry about batteries or moving or electronic parts. In turn, this makes it easier to maintain, and it helps to ensure that it’s ready to go when you are. It’s made in the United States to strict quality control standards.
This company has over 40 years in the construction industry, and they use quality materials to create this stud finder to ensure it lasts. The company also donates a small percentage of each sale price to the National Breast Cancer Coalition and Hire Heroes USA. You can easily use this product without causing any damage to your walls, and it’s small enough to slip into your pocket to make it highly portable. It also doesn’t take up a lot of room to store it, and the bright yellow coloring makes it easy to see.
- Works to help hang heavy items
- Hands-free operation
- No batteries or moving parts
- Made in the United States
- Won’t damage the walls
- Locates screws or nails
- Works on metal or wooden studs
- Doesn’t work on anything by drywall
Stud Finder Buying Guide
Taking the time to pick out a professional-grade stud finder can ensure that it’s versatile enough to take on small and large projects around your home or office. There are several brands available and several styles to sort through, and this can take a lot of time on your part if you’re not sure what to look for. However, this buyer’s guide will ensure that you find the best stud finder for your needs.
Decide on which sensor type you want because there are two main categories available. You can get a magnetic sensor or an electronic sensor. A magnetic sensor doesn’t need a power source like batteries, and they use earth magnets to help find the studs by locating the nails that were put in when they built the walls. These are very affordable models with no electronic components.
On the other hand, you have electronic sensors. They check the wall’s depth for density changes. This allows these stud finders to tell the difference between scanning over drywall or scanning over drywall with a stud underneath. They have more abilities like being able to find the stud’s edges, additional scanning modes, and digital displays. They can be expensive.
Using a stud finder with a laser light in it can prevent you from hanging items in uneven lines or rows, and it makes it easier to create patterns that are aesthetically pleasing.
Electronic models have the ability to locate the center of the stud. If you’re going to set up a closed terrarium and hang it up, this can be very useful from the support perspective. It’ll scan over the wall and help you locate the stud’s edges and center, and this means you don’t have to do your own calculations to find the center. You can make several passes while the unit recalibrates to let you find all of the edges of the stud and calculate the size. It should have a visual indicator included on it.
Visual display systems are popular with almost every stud finder you purchase. The display should be slightly larger because this makes it very easy to see. A lot of them use LCD screens because they’re bright and easy to see in all different lighting conditions. They can display the stud, depth, battery life, and they may light up or blink when you find a stud in your wall. Many of them will signal that you’re working in a different scanning mode as well.
Even if you move slowly over your wall, it can be very easy to lose or miss a stud unless you have an alert system. If you recently built a garage or extension, it can be even more difficult to find studs because of the new materials and interference. Ideally, you’ll get both a visual and audible alert when you approach the edge of the stud. The LCD screen could light up or flash, and there is usually a small beeping noise that gets more insistent as you get closer to the stud.
You can use this tool at your home or office to create an eye-catching area for your guests to see. It allows you to add height to your garden and draw the eye up from point A to point B.
Stud Finder Frequently Asked Questions
Although most stud finders are relatively simple when you use them, people still have questions about how they operate. We’ve picked out some common questions regarding this tool and answered them for you below.
1. Is it worth it to invest in a stud finder?
A stud finder will help you locate studs that you can’t see behind your walls, and some models can help you find live wires too. Knowing where these items are is critical when you want to hang something heavy like a TV or mirror because you want to screw or drill into the stud instead of just the drywall. This will give whatever you’re hanging more support.
2. What is the average length apart for wall studs?
Studs are boards that work as the framing elements of any home, and they support the walls. Studs are always between 16 and 24-inches apart on-center. You measure from the center of the stud to the center of the next stud to get the exact length. They run between the ceiling and the floor.
3. What is the lightning bolt icon on my stud finder?
This is the WireWarning icon that works to alert you to the presence of an unshielded, live electrical AC wire in your wall. Not all stud finders come equipped with this feature, but those that do will flash it as you scan for metal or studs.
A professional-grade stud finder is one small tool that can help you to tackle a large amount of projects around your home and out in your garden shed. You want to pay attention to several different buying criteria before you pick one out to make sure you get a flexible enough model to work on all of your projects. I showed you 10 great options, and the short buying guide will help you compare the products side-by-side and pick out the best one for your needs.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.