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Find Studs without a stud finder

We’ve all been there at some stage: frantically trying to find a wall stud as you’re in the practice of hanging a photo, shelf, or TV mount. Most stud finders are inconsistent at best, and I have found that the more I learn about how homes are made, the easier it is to find a stud through logic rather than equipment. In lieu of purchasing yet another tool, here are a couple of hints for finding a stud without any fancy equipment.

Know wall building
Each house is different, but there are a number of things that you can depend on. Some things you should know about how walls are framed:

Studs are usually spaced between 16-24 inches on center (which means from the middle of one stud, to the middle of another to it.) 16-inch is your most usual dimension however. You will also find studs on either side of a window or doorway, but their positioning is determined by the floor programs so they won’t typically have the 16-inch spacing.

Most electric boxes (switches or outlets) are attached to a stud on either side. The actual measurements of 2×4 lumber vary dependent on the date that the house (or the particular wall of the home in question) was constructed. For example, between 1900-1950, demanding cut 2×4’s were common and were actually two inches by four inches, for the most part. Houses constructed between 1950-1965 may have 2x4s which are 1-⅝ by 3-⅝ however, and much more modern 2x4s are actually 1-1/2 by 3-1/2 (all of that matters if you are attempting to quantify from the middle of one stud to the next.)

Trim (crown molding, baseboard, and shoe molding) is generally nailed into a stud.
Since the baseboard ought to be connected to the studs, then look to find out whether you can place where it could have been pinpointed. These pockets –dimples–are usually filled with caulk and painted, but you may be able to spot you to identify the exact location of a stud. If you find one, consider measuring in 16-inch increments to find the further studs.

Find the switches
If you don’t have any luck checking out the trimming, look for switches or sockets, understanding that at least one side of an electrical box will be mounted onto a stud. Personally I’m not good at performing the”knock test” on the wall, but I can usually discover from tapping which side of the outlet is attached to the stud. Then you can measure about a 3/4-inch away from the socket on the stud side and use that as the beginning point to ascertain the 16-inch intervals.

Step from the corner
With studs normally 16 inches on center, you can also do calculations from a corner of the room. This method can be somewhat iffy, because all rooms are not built in numbers divisible by 16 inches, so you are likely to have a stud which is significantly less than 16 inches from 1 corner. Try out the”knock evaluation” near the corner to find out if it’s possible to determine where the briefer stud-spacing could have been inserted. This only really works if you’re measuring a corner off the exterior of the home, but there can be a situation where this helps (and it is certainly better than blindly drilling a dozen holes into your wall, hoping to strike a stud.)

Also, among the very best ideas I had when building the addition in my last house was supposed to take pictures of each wall in each room after they were framed in but until we hung the drywall. Those reference photos arrived in handy more times than I could count following the drywall was up.

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