How many DIY enthusiasts haven’t at some point hammered or drilled into a wall and ended up hitting a large metal nut that is holding the drywall to the main wall? In the case of nails and screws this doesn’t really cause much in the way of damage but for drill bits and saws this can end up being quite a frustrating mistake.

Fortunately, help is at hand with a modern stud finder that helps you find any studs or metal that might be hiding in your wall before it creates any trouble. Finding a good stud finder might not seem like it should be much of a challenge but with so many different designs, it can be.

To help you find the best household stud finders on the market today we have compiled a list of the top options so that we can save you the research time required to find out on your own.

Comparison Chart

How to Find a Really Good Stud Finder

People have been using metal beams and brackets to help strengthen and support walls and columns since the days of the Ancient Greeks. These days we use metal for everything from the strength bearing support for huge skyscrapers to holding parallel walls together.

To join dry walls to the exterior wall, builders use special framing studs that sit in between the two walls to act as a support and hold them together. The problem with these studs is that they are dotted in regular intervals in-between the two walls so unless you were actually the person who put them in then there is no way to actually know exactly where they are.

A stud finder is a device that has been designed to help find all the studs in the wall so that you can avoid them when drilling. They range from really inexpensive units to ones that will set you back in the region of fifty dollars. The real problem is that unfortunately the effectiveness and quality of these products can vary even more than the price.

Types of Stud Finders

There are two main types of these devices, electronic and magnetic.

Electronic devices use special sensors to monitor wall density to find areas of high density. Since metal is denser than either wood or brick, these devices can find exactly where these metal studs are in a wall. Electronic finders are battery powered to allow them to be used anywhere, though this means that they do need to be kept charged.

Magnetic finders use magnetic force to locate the studs as well as other metal objects in a wall. Since they are generally more basic designs, they are less expensive than their electronic counterparts, though they also are less effective on thicker walls and are usually only good for use on walls that are up to ½ inch thick.

Things to Consider Before You Buy

How much you intend to use it – There is no point in buying a 50-dollar finder if you only plan to use it once. You can buy a simpler, cheaper device that should still get the job done even though it might be a little less effective at finding studs through thicker walls. On the other hand, if you intend to use it a lot then you should definitely make sure that you buy the best one for your needs and don’t base your decision on price.

Professional vs. Occasional DIY

Since professional tradesmen work in a much wider range of environments, it is important that they use the most accurate equipment available. So for them, finding a stud finder that can give accurate measurements through a number of different materials and material thicknesses is really important. Older buildings can be littered with metal that has for one reason or another been left in the wall. Some walls are even lined with a metal mesh that allowed the plasterer to bind the plaster to the wall. Professional tradesmen require accuracy and therefore use electronic finders rather than magnetic ones to get the job done.

How to read our reviews?

A basic model magnetic finder can set you back as little as $5, while they also reach prices as high as $80 for the more advanced electronic models. Since we try to offer as wide a spectrum as possible of the best products out there, we list them according to their overall score rather than their price or the use they have been designed for. Each review will state what level of use the product is intended for and what you are getting for your money.

Tips for new stud finder users

  1. Read the instructions as no matter how simple the design of your new finder is, not using the device properly will lead to inaccurate readings known as false positives.
  2. Take care of your equipment. Poorly maintained devices will fail more quickly and also degrade in performance faster than others.
  3. In the case of electric finders, always keep the batteries charged as this will ensure a longer operating life.
  4. If possible, test it on a place where you know there is a stud so that you can get a good idea of signal strength and how to use it correctly.

Our Top Choice
CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder

CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud FinderDesigned for home use and tradespersons for walls of less than ½ inch.

If you are looking for rock solid proof that price is not everything, this product is it. It is a magnetic device that as a result requires no charging whatsoever, so it can be used often without you having to ever worry about it running out of power.

It has been designed for general purpose use with all modern homes. Though not as powerful as many electric designs, it relies on a powerful magnet to find the studs, and once it does, it will stick to the wall while you use the great 2-way level to mark off where the studs are.

This finder is one of those simple but solid tools that you find still doing the job years after all your expensive tools have gone the way of the Dodo. It has been made to a really high standard of quality, and the design will put up with being dropped, banged around and even hit by a hammer.

It only requires you to move it over the wall in a repeated s-shape until you come across a stud. Once you do, it will stick to the wall at the exact point where the stud is. This can be easily marked since unlike the electric finders, it will stay in place without you needing to hold it there.


Stud Scan (up to 1/2″)
Deep Scan
AC Scan
Metal Scan
Batteries Required?
Integrated LCD Screen
Rating 4.8 Stars (4.8 / 5)



  • Small – Designed to fit easily into pocket
  • Inexpensive
  • Hands-free use
  • 2-way level
  • No batteries required
  • Soft grip

  • Not designed for thicker walls as magnet is not strong enough



Zircon MultiScanner i520 Center-Finding Stud Finder with Metal and AC Electrical Scanning

Zircon MultiScanner i520For heavy home use or for tradespeople

If you are in the trade or you’re a DIY enthusiast who doesn’t mind spending a little extra, then this is our top choice electric finder.

It has everything you need to find even the deepest studs and nails while also having a WireWarning detection system to warn you of any live wires lurking in the wall cavity. This live wire warning system is a live saver for tradesman working on old buildings that have been chopped and changed so many times that there is a real danger that the wall contains power lines which might not run through the circuit breaker that all the others do.

It comes with a simple 4-mode switch that allows you to easily swap between functions and a really bright LED screen to indicate exactly where the wires are in the wall. It picks up even the deepest pieces of metal that can be up to 1 ½ inch deep, which when most studs are located between 1/8 and ¼ of an inch, this gives you an idea of just how powerful this great finder really is.


Stud Scan (up to 3/4″)
Deep Scan (up to 1 1/2″)
AC Scan (up to 2″)
Metal Scan (up to 3″)
Batteries Required?
Integrated LCD Screen
Rating 4.7 Stars (4.7 / 5)



  • 4-Mode Switch
  • Bright display screen
  • Scans for metal and live AC wires
  • Locates metal studs up to 1 1/2-Inches (38 mm) deep
  • Easy-to-read LCD display
  • Audio tone
  • WireWarning detection for live wires that are up to 2″ deep

  • Rather pricey



ProSensor 710 Franklin Sensors ProSensor 710 Precision Stud Finder

ProSensor 710Designed for tradespeople

This is the most powerful sensor and possibly the most accurate finder on this list. It is available on its own or with a separate magnetic stud finder that can be used to quickly find studs in thinner walls to save time.

This finder has a multi-sensor technology that allows it to find even the smallest pieces of metal very accurately. Though the manufacturers state that it is only designed for wall thicknesses of up to 1 ½ inch, we found it to work even through thicker walls.

The accuracy of the sensor is phenomenal, and it will allow you to know almost exactly where all the pieces of metal are and what shape they are. All of our markings were accurate to within a millimeter, even in very thick walls.

Finally, we also loved that it has the ability to identify multiple studs within a small area which is something that many devices can’t do and obviously will help prevent frustration should you not know they are there and hit them.


Stud Scan (up to 3/4″)
Deep Scan (up to 1 1/2″)
AC Scan
Metal Scan
Batteries Required?
Integrated LCD Screen
Rating 4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)



  • Advanced Multi-Sense Technology
  • Bright LEDs lights illuminate
  • Identifies the width of hidden objects
  • Multiple stud identification
  • Deep Scanning 1.5″

  • Strips on the device can mark the wall



Studpop Magnetic Stud Finder

Studpop Magnetic Stud FinderDesigned for DIY use on thinner walls.

This no frills magnetic finder is a really simple and effective design. It has a unique popper on the top that magically leaps up as soon as it has found a stud. Though not as accurate as the electric finder designs and not allowing you to tell the exact size and shape of the stud, its simple design does allow you to find them much faster without the need to read LED displays.

It has been designed for plasterboard and other such materials for a thickness of up to ½ inch so it is suitable for all modern homes. This is a great design that gets the job done quickly and without any hassle. You don’t need to charge it and there is no way you won’t know when it has found what you are looking for thanks to its fun popper design.


Stud Scan (up to 1/2″)
Deep Scan
AC Scan
Metal Scan
Batteries Required?
Integrated LCD Screen
Rating 4.4 Stars (4.4 / 5)



  • Unique popper indicator
  • No batteries required
  • Made in the USA
  • Available in different colors

  • Not suitable for walls thicker than ½ inch
  • Relatively easy to lose track of



Precision Sensors Stud Finder

Precision Sensors Stud FinderDesigned for tradesmen

This electronic finder features a really great sensor that scans multiple areas of the wall at once. It gives a really accurate reading of where multiple pieces of metal and other materials are hiding and what their exact size is, so you never need to worry about hitting them.

This design has a really handy LED indicator system that no sooner than the device locates any studs will immediately shine lights on the exact spot where they are located. You always required to use one hand to operate this design, but what it lacks in convenience it makes up for in accuracy.

The main drawback to this unit was once its high cost, but that is no longer the case as lots of online retailers have applied discounts in an effort to bring it in line with competitors. You can currently pick up this great design at a fraction of the old cost.

This is one of the few designs that doesn’t require to be slid back and forth over walls, so it is a popular choice for those people with lots of wall space to cover who don’t want to risk making marks on their wall that won’t come off either.


Stud Scan (up to 3/4″)
Deep Scan (up to 1 1/2″)
AC Scan
Metal Scan
Batteries Required?
Integrated LCD Screen
Rating 4.3 Stars (4.3 / 5)



  • Can detect wood as well as metal objects
  • Batteries included
  • One-step operation
  • Larger sensor pad area than other designs
  • Advanced sensor technology senses

  • Sometimes shows false positives



Zircon e50-FFP Stud Sensor e50 Edge-Finding Electronic Stud Finder with AC Wire Warning

Zircon e50-FFP Stud Sensor e50 Edge-Finding Electronic Stud Finder with AC Wire WarningDesigned for home use

This relatively inexpensive electronic finder packs plenty of punch for its buck. Zircon is an industry leader as far as stud finding sensors go, so you can be sure that this design won’t disappoint. It features easy to master controls that allow you to switch effortlessly between normal and deep scan mode.

When it does detect metal studs, it uses its LED indicator system to light up an arrow that points to the exact spot where it is. We found this system to be really effective at locating even small pieces of metal such as nails, but have to admit that it is not the best system for accurately displaying the size and shape of any metal you might find hiding in the wall.

This is a great option for people who want to know exactly what’s in the wall, but don’t require the high level of accuracy as many tradesmen require.


Stud Scan (up to 3/4″)
Deep Scan (up to 1 1/2″)
AC Scan (up to 2″)
Metal Scan
Batteries Required?
Integrated LCD Screen
Rating 4.3 Stars (4.3 / 5)



  • Locates studs up to 3/4-inch (19 mm) deep while on deep scan mode up to 1-1/2-inches deep
  • Wire warning detection indicates live mains up to 2″ deep
  • Easy-to-read LCD display
  • Patented Spotlite pointing system shines an arrow-shaped light to indicate target

  • Requires a fully charged 9V battery to run effectively
  • Relatively poor battery life



aom 4 in 1 Multi-Scanner Stud Finder

aom 4 in 1 Multi-Scanner Stud FinderIf you are looking for a reliable and accurate finder that has a really great LED display, then this is definitely the one we recommend. The display makes finding all those elusive studs as easy as watching TV thanks to the indicator arrows that point to the exact place where the stud is hiding. As if this was not enough, there is a noise indicator to let you know just when you have found one should you not want to use the LED all the time.

The main drawback with a lot of the older electric stud finders is that they were quite difficult to calibrate, which is something you need 100% if you are to make sure you get an accurate picture of what is in your wall. This design gets rid of that problem with its automatic calibration.

So if you are looking for a really easy to use finder that is high on accuracy but is simple to get the hang of, then this is the design for you.


Stud Scan (up to 3/4″)
Deep Scan (up to 1 1/2″)
AC Scan (up to 2″)
Metal Scan (up to 1 1/4″)
Batteries Required?
Integrated LCD Screen
Rating 4.3 Stars (4.3 / 5)



  • 4-IN-1: Scanner
  • Easy to read LCD and sound signal indicate findings
  • Automatic scanner calibration
  • Two Velcros for non-slip use

  • Deep scan is not as accurate as many other designs



Diamond Resource 10129-ST Stud Thud Magnetic Stud Finder

Diamond Resource 10129-ST Stud Thud Magnetic Stud FinderSuitable for home use

This compact finder uses two magnets to enhance its metal detection ability. These magnets give an unmistakable signal that there is a stud or other metal object in the wall as they strongly pull the device to the wall clamping it over the area under which the metal is. Fortunately, it has been engineered of hard plastic that won’t risk marking your walls as it does so.

If you are looking for a magnetic finder that comes with a better detection rate than the single magnet designs, then this is definitely the one you should choose. It is inexpensive and as with all magnetic finders will only give you a positive reading when there is something there.


Stud Scan
Deep Scan
AC Scan
Metal Scan
Batteries Required?
Integrated LCD Screen
Rating 4.2 Stars (4.2 / 5)



  • Magnetic stud finder
  • Dual magnets for better detection
  • Guaranteed to work on the most common wall materials
  • Lightweight



Zircon 68315 StudSensor i65 Center-Finding Stud Finder with Metal Detection and WireWarning

Zircon 68315 StudSensor i65Our third Zircon electric finder might not be quite up to the standard of the other two featured on this list, but don’t let that fool you as it is still a really great product. It is able to detect wood as well as metal in a wall that is up to 1 ½ inches thick. The easy to use display helps you to locate any objects quickly and accurately. If you have a large wall area to cover, then the audio locator tone really helps out as you can make wide sweeps without the need of keeping your eyes on the display screen at all times.

This device also has a live wire detection system that offers you protection from drilling into any hidden wires and ending up getting a nasty shock. It can detect live wires up to 2mm deep which is more than enough for modern houses and most older ones too.


Stud Scan (up to 3/4″)
Deep Scan (up to 1 1/2″)
AC Scan (up to 2″)
Metal Scan (up to 1 1/2″)
Batteries Required?
Integrated LCD Screen
Rating 4.1 Stars (4.1 / 5)



  • Can find wood or metal studs up to 1 1/2-inch deep
  • Easy-to-read LCD display
  • Audio locator tone
  • Apotlite pointing system indicate stud center
  • Detection of live wiring up to 2″ deep
  • “Over-the-stud” indicator alerts the user to start the scan in a new location

  • Sometimes gives false positives



Black & Decker SF100 Wood Stud Finder

Black & Decker SF100 Wood Stud FinderDesigned for light DIY use

If one of the other lower priced electronic finders on this list is not available then this is a really good basic option. Though the detection rates are not as accurate as other models, this is nonetheless a really good finder.

It is able to detect wood studs through walls up to 3/4” and is another design that uses a combination of lights and audio beeps to indicate when a stud has been found. It is a nice and compact design that has really good battery life.

This certainly should not be your first go-to choice electronic finder if you need to use one very often, but it does represent excellent value for money. Sadly lacking live wire detection system, it is otherwise a really decent finder.


Stud Scan (up to 3/4″)
Deep Scan
AC Scan
Metal Scan
Batteries Required?
Integrated LCD Screen
Rating 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)



  • Detects wood studs up to 3/4″ thick
  • Sensor triggers audio beep when stud is detected
  • Stud sensor with LED indicators
  • Compact design

  • No live wire detection



Conclusion

When it comes to something as important as finding metal or wood studs in your walls safely, it is worth making sure you get the best product available. You should carefully consider whether you want a magnetic or an electric reader before you start shopping. Though not offering any false or incorrect readings, magnetic finders are not as sophisticated at finding the size and shape of all those studs hiding in your wall when compared to more expensive electronic ones.