Do expensive stud finders work better than cheap ones?


Old 11-23-15, 04:54 PM
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Do expensive stud finders work better than cheap ones?

I used to have a Zircon basic stud finder which was about 20 bucks, and it seemed unreliable, in the way that you would run it over where you know there must be a stud(like next to a window, or electrical box) and it wouldn't find it. Sometimes you'd move the unit and reset it, and 5 times later, it found the stud - congratulations! I bought a more expensive one years ago, about $40 or so. It doesn't really seem to work any better. It also detects AC current, but I have little need for that function. This unit *rarely* locates studs. I tried a new batter, but still the same.

I'm doing crown molding, and I really don't feel like fussing around. Also, I can't reliably find studs and ceiling joists using the knock method - it's just simply not accurate in my home for whatever reason. I'm willing to purchase a more expensive model like the this bosch, but only if it will get the stinking job done!

Any thoughts on this? Thank you in advance.
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Old 11-23-15, 05:39 PM
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I've had 4 studfinders in the past 40 or so years. Last one I got is a Zircon multiscanner. I bought it because I was doing a job where I really really needed to know where the studs were because I did NOT want any holes in the wall that needed to be patched and painted. I think it works but I can never bring myself to trust the things, I still wind up knocking on the wall. Like you said, first it's there, then it isn't then it is. When I use it in my house on plaster/lath walls it seems totally confused. I will not be spending any more money on studfinders though I am considering investing in these, I hear they really work.
Old 11-23-15, 05:58 PM
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This one is better than the 3 or 4 others I've had/used, including a couple zircons. There are still things that will fool it, like foil insulation and sometimes rigid foam, but for drywall over wood studs it works pretty darn well. It will indicate on pipes too, so you still have use your head a bit to make sure you have a stud.

ProSensor 710 Franklin Sensors ProSensor 710 Precision Stud Finder Yellow - Electronic Component Foot Switches -
Old 11-23-15, 06:31 PM
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This question comes up a lot. I use a magnet. The magnet is very strong and can find screws or nails in drywall quickly. In the time it takes to scan one stud with the electronic, a whole wall can be scanned. If hanging something critical, like new cabinets, I will verify the outside edges of the stud with a nail or tiny bit.

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Plaster walls and it's back to the electronic.
Old 11-24-15, 03:32 AM
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The only problem with the magnetic ones is you have to make several passes in order to find a nail. And is that nail dead center, or not, or was it a semi-miss? I use one of the Zircon's with metal, electrical and deep scans. Cost was about $50. Works well as it announces the edges of the studs as you pass over them, and projects an arrow on the wall where they start.

You mentioned cheap, versus expensive. I don't think this one will do any more or less than a moderately priced sensor, but some people buy them, I guess. Bosch 6 in. Depth Multi-Scanner-D-TECT 150 - The Home Depot
Old 11-24-15, 05:59 AM
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I find that I can't rely and any one type of stud finder. I use the electronic ones as a first determination, then the knocking on the wall, then the tiny finishing nail as the final test.
Keep in mind that electronic units use density to find any solid mass vs just the wall thickness. If you should start or calibrate from a spot that has a cross member, or pipe behind the wall board then you'll get false readings.
Old 11-24-15, 09:11 AM
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I'll be repeating some here, but I find a stud finder to be just part of the search. I like to carry some small post-it stickers and map out what I know should be there. Real old homes are a challenge because who knows where the next stud will be. But more recent homes should follow the 16" oc or 24" oc construction method. Locate the studs next to the electrical boxes and any others you can find, nail pops are often visible. With the post-its and a tape measure a pattern should quickly appear. Then, you know where to initialize your stud finder so you aren't right on top of a stud.

By using two color stickers I mark the ones I actually find and use the other color for the ones I anticipate with a tape measure.

Of course this is only necessary when it is really important and in most cases i find what I need long before I have created a work of art. But it makes the stud finder look smarter to search where you know there should be a stud.

Old 11-24-15, 12:13 PM
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I have the Bosch Wall scanner

It was pretty expensive but I had bought a cheaper chinese one first and it didn't work for my plaster ceilings. The wall scanner finds 1"x1" joists through 1-2 inches of plaster and chicken wire. Its sensitive enough to differentiate empty conduit from rebar in cement floors.

I consider it to have been a good investment
Old 11-24-15, 01:12 PM
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I know it's a tool few can afford but a thermal camera is the only really reliable way to find studs in walls. Many tool rental stores have them available for rent if the job warrants the expense. Even then there must be a temperature difference for the camera to see. So, exterior walls are easiest. Interior walls require cranking the heat or AC for an hour (not the most convenient) before the studs reveal themselves.
Old 11-24-15, 01:31 PM
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If standard crown molding, you can use 2 1/2" nails and usually hit the top plate on the wall without problem. I usually cut my crown long and flex it in to position so the nails are not the only thing holding it up, friction across the whole room assists. I also by crown in 16' pieces so that I don't have any seams in the room.

Another old reliable way to find studs is to take a 2" finish nail near where you think the stud should be and tap it into the wall behind where the molding will cover up the test holes. It may look like swiss cheese, but who is going to know the holes are there if under the molding. Not recommended for out in the middle of the wall But a quick time saver if you forgot your stud finder or the batteries are dead (not that that ever happens of course).
Old 11-24-15, 01:50 PM
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The nail approach often gives me a laugh when I find a row of holes about 1/4" apart. If it misses at one location, moving 1.25 inches would not miss a stud. Once located a few extra hole might be acceptable to clearly identify the edges and center, but every 1/4" is not necessary, especially for 6" which I have seen, hidden behind the baseboard.

The Bosch scanner looks interesting. Although I have an Infrared camera I rarely take it anywhere other than on an energy audit.

Old 11-24-15, 04:20 PM
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Just happened to get this review of the new dewalt wall scanner today:

DCT419 Wall Scanner - Tools of the Trade

Too spendy for my occasional need, but looks like a nice unit.

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