When starting the home renovation, any additions or decoration, the best professional stud finder will come in handy to detect the location of nails or screws in a wall. New stud finders became the win-win solution when being able to sense accurately where a stud is. This tool can “feel” the fluctuations of capacitance and determine the difference between dielectric constants.
The best professional stud finder is able to find out both metal and wood studs, as well as live AC electrical wiring and nails in lath and plaster walls. Now, one can choose either electronic or magnet models, stationary or moving modifications, edge and center units. Some advanced devices come with LED displays and automatic switch-off function, they can detect the depth of a nail.
The stud finder reviews below present items from various categories, but their common factor is quality, accuracy, and ergonomics.
Professional Stud Finder Reviews
When wondering where to get the best stud finder, think of the CH Hanson 03040 – a compact and lightweight device that fits in the pockets and stable to drops, tosses, and bangs. It’s a magnetic model that is powerful enough to determine the nails deep inside the wall. The tool is easy to use since it comes without any electronic or other detachable parts.
The unit can detect the studs on a wood paneling correctly. It will find wooden planks behind finished walls if they have any metal particles. This model also can be used to locate subfloor joist nail from above the carpet. It’s fitted with the powerful magnets that can locate nails at a distance of 2 inches. It operates flawlessly through thicker plaster and paints over the drywall.
- It has a handy little level onboard.
- A soft grip adds more comfort.
- It’s a hands-free model that has the advantage of not leaving pencil marks on the wall.
- The device is really tiny that’s why it has a small footprint and makes a user swipe it across the wall.
- The lack of a retractable magnetic belt clip with a pencil as an accessory.
While looking for the best professional stud finder, don’t miss the ProSensor 710 that is able to detect studs’ location across the 7-inch measurement scanning area. To that end, it uses 13 LED lights and this tech allows making just a little sliding across the wall.
The device comes with a wide handle that has a button to switch the unit on. It’s an electronic model that’s why it requires 2 AA batteries that are put in the black cover on the top of the handle. This tool is designed to scan the walls horizontally and it does its job from several sections on the wall simultaneously.
It’s able to locate two objects at the same time and determine their width. For example, 3 LEDs are light up when locating usual studs and 6 ones are visible when they detect facing studs. Unlike the majority of scanners, this model can manage 2 layers of sheetrock.
- It’s able to find out wooden studs.
- The device does its job when scanning corners and wall space next to doorways.
- It locates studs underneath plaster and lath occasionally and not accurate.
- Its grip isn’t convenient since it protrudes from the base a short distance that’s not enough for a hand.
If looking for the best wall scanner, consider the Zircon StudSensor e50 that is produced to locate both the edges and the center of the studs behind the walls. It really helps when mounting something 20 lbs or more. The assembly comes with 2 modes – StudScan for use primarily on 1/2″ drywall and DeepScan for use on surfaces over 3/4″.
This model is remarkable for its WireWarning Detection tech to recognize live and unshielded electrical wires within 2 inches deep behind the wall. In other words, it warns of any voltage detected behind the wall.
This unit can also detect the joists in a sheetrock-finished ceiling. It is able to register a change in the stud’s density and thus find metal studs. Although it’s not recommended for exterior use, it works well on roof overhang. It’s not developed to work through wood paneling, but it can handle it on a thin layer.
The tool features ergonomic construction. It marks the targeted stud with a red SpotLite Pointer and has a convenient handle designed for both a righty and a lefty. When the majority of electronic devices come with two batteries, this product needs only one 9V battery.
- It has a clear LCD display.
- It handles a layer of cement board and a layer of plywood.
- It’s not accurate when scanning through the tile.
- The battery isn’t included in the package.
When speaking of a top rated stud finder, the Studpop Magnetic Stud Finder should be mentioned since it’s designed to work on any kind of wall – sheetrock, plaster, lath, plaster, or tile. However, it doesn’t work through the carpet to find floor joists since it comes within 1/2″ of a nail or screw. It can find a stud and stay on a stomped or stamped ceiling.
The unit is made of tough ABS plastic (it won’t damage easily when fallen) and a moving colored plastic piece (indicator) with a rare earth magnet is attached to its cabinet. It produces a pop sound when registering the object within its magnetic field.
- It comes with impressively strong magnet to locate metal fasteners.
- Ergonomic design that allows keeping the device easily with the thumb and the index fingers.
- It’s a pocket fitting portable model.
- This product doesn’t respond to electricity at all.
- It can stain white walls when rubbing the bottom along the wall. To avoid any markings on the wall, it’s required to cover it with a paper towel.
This model is a good stud finder with a hanger that is included to attach the device to the wall and it comes in a plastic case. It works as both a stud scanner and a laser leveler. The device puts out correct only horizontal but not vertical lines if turned 90 degrees. The accuracy for the laser is about 1/8 inches looking out 10 feet from each side of the unit, depending on lighting conditions. Besides, the lasers shoot pretty far and around corners.
The unit is suitable for lath and plaster walls. It works wood and metal studs, as well as live A/C wires. The sensor can’t locate hot wires inside metal pipe or conduit, as well as behind the metallic wall covering, some plywood or other surfaces with high density.
Note that this model is developed to measure the density difference in the wall but not to identify the type of screw or nail exactly. The unit needs calibration and it’s necessary to make all the adjustments beforehand. Otherwise, misreads are possible (if starting the calibration procedure too close to a stud).
- It can be used for installing a drop ceiling.
- It’s possible to set up the device on a camera tripod to swing 360 degrees.
- Some false-positive signals from both the electrical sniffer and studs sensor are possible that’s why doing multiple passes to confirm before drilling is recommended.
When being a contractor and requiring the best stud finder on the market, pay attention to the Zircon MetalliScanner m40 that features high penetrating power. This electronic unit is a battery-powered model with small dimensions and the ability to give a sound when nail or screw is seen. Not that it’s necessary to change batteries from time to time since they’re not rechargeable.
It’s developed to locate different types of metal particles, including materials that contain iron (ferrous metals). That’s why it’s indispensable for lathed and plastered surfaces. It can penetrate 2 inches behind the wallboard for ferrous metals and 4 inches – for non-ferrous ones. It’s possible to proceed with two types of scanning – pinpointing and wide. The first one senses small parts and the latter is used for finding out wider metal positions.
The unit is not very sensitive to copper wires. It may find out the wire if the search coil is practically touching it. The wires can be located if they are metal-sheathed.
- It detects small nails/brads hidden in hardwood flooring. For example, it can locate carpet staples and remnants in the oak floorboards.
- The unit comes with LEDs that are duplicated on the other side to be visible regardless of orientation.
- The unit works well on the wide-angle (low accuracy) scan but not in the precision mode. When aiming the fine point probe at the truss, the coarse scanner points up at the roof and locates all the shingle nails.
This model could become the top stud finder due to its great number of sensor pads than the average model has. It means that the unit features a deeper scan. The ProFinder 5000+ is fitted with LED lights that illuminate when locating screws or nails.
The kit comes with 13 sensors and each of them is able to hold its own scan that means the high measuring accuracy of this device without false alerts. The number of LEDs that illuminate depends on how wide the stud is. The more indicators light up, the wider is the stud. Besides, this assembly comes with a spirit level onboard and a ruler to mark studs with level markings.
Plenty of other units in this price range need to be turned on, held against the wall to calibrate, and then swept slowly until they locate a stud. This model is much more straightforward – just press the on button and hold it to the wall to either move it or slide it.
- It’s able to locate metal studs.
- The unit indicates studs on an exterior stucco wall.
- It glides smoothly across the wall even if the surface isn’t smooth.
- The detector doesn’t read through the ceramic tile on a wonder board.
- It can’t find aluminum studs.
- The unit doesn’t detect wood studs or joists through the outside vinyl siding of a house.
How to Use Stud Detectors
When hanging a heavy object on the wall, it’s necessary to attach it right to the stud but not only to drywall to avoid crumbling. Where are studs or even nails and screws located? Nobody knows, except a stud wall detector. How to use it?
- Choose the area where to place a picture, TV or any other item.
- Mark the height with a pencil.
- Take away other hanging objects with metal parts to avoid stud scanner’s false-positive signals.
- If using an electronic detector, check the batteries.
- Make sure the unit’s surface is clean to save a wall from the mud.
- Consider that studs are usually 16 or 24 inches apart.
- Hold a detector flat against the surface, about 1 foot left of where a hole will be drilled.
- Activate it with a button if it deals with an electronic device.
- Slide a scanner to the right horizontally.
- When having a signal (sound or lights), move the detector several times in the same area to ensure right results.
- Mark the spot with a pencil.
Professional Stud Scanners – Selection Criteria
What is the best stud finder? The choice is dependable on the array of tasks. If it’s necessary to locate wiring, fasteners, stud edges, etc., electronic devices are recommended.
The most advanced models can handle aluminum studs and detect nails through ceramic tile. However, they are not cheap that’s why it would be better to choose a magnetic tool if budget is a big deal. Besides, electronic units need batteries and it’s crucial to realize in time when they should be replaced.
Magnetic devices also fit professionals since they don’t require a source of power. While electronic assemblies may make a mistake when being used on walls other than drywall, magnetic ones are rather accurate when dealing with tile, plaster, masonry, lath, and sheetrock surfaces.
When being a pro, everybody needs the most accurate stud finder. Since there are no such specs among claimed characteristics, they all work in progress, so, the professionals usually prefer to have several devices to check the results. Note that if the wall thickness is no more than 1/4 inch, it’s possible to use a stud finder app.
Good Things about Professional Stud Scanners
It’s the easiest and the only possible way to identify studs, screws, nails, PVC, and steel pipes or wires without damaging walls, floor or ceiling. Moreover, one can recognize both the center of studs and their edges for some minutes.
The devices are compact, lightweight, and don’t take up much space in a kit. There are easy to use since requiring no setups or multi-stage adjustments. Variety of designs allows choosing any model at one’s discretion and get even the units that could be also used as levels.