Detecting Studs in Plaster Walls?


Old 05-07-05, 05:43 PM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Detecting Studs in Plaster Walls?

We bought a home that has only plaster walls. We're attempting to hang some heavier things (mirror, shelves, etc) on the wall but finding a stud to drill into has been troublesome.

We bought a stud-finder and it detects the lath between the studs, rendering it useless. I'm not confident enough to use the 'pound and listen' technique. Is there any other way to find exactly where the studs are located in the walls?

Sponsored Links
Old 05-07-05, 05:59 PM
XSleeper's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 20,537
You might be able to locate an old-fashioned magnetic stud finder, (looks like toggle switch with a magnet on it). When you run it over a nail (the lathe is nailed into the studs) it will stand straight out. I haven't seen one of these for years.

I would think that a normal studfinder would still work. But as an alternative, you might look for nail holes (they'll probably just be dimples if they were puttied) in the baseboard. That would also help yo locate the studs.
Old 05-07-05, 08:16 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,722
Usually but not always, especially in plaster over wood lath the electrical boxes are nailed to studs. Take off a cover plate and carefully look or probe with a wire or something for a stud on one side or the other of the box. Once you find one stud the next one should be 16" O.C to either side. I have had success screwing pretty heavy objects through plaster into wood lath. If you hit the meat of the lath it will hold a lot. If you hit the space between the lath called the key the screw will hold nothing. You can usually tell if you are in the lath or the key. If in the key move up or done an inch and try again.

If the walls are plaster over gypsum lath you can still look around electrical boxes but it's hard to make a screw hold unless it is indeed in the stud. Plastic anchors work pretty well, however.
Old 05-07-05, 08:50 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: NYC
Posts: 1,615
Get the stud finder. They work on density. The part of a wall with a stud behind it is more dense than a wall without one. Newer oners will also locate metal and electrical wires. A good investment. Don't use it at a height where a firestop could be[middle of the wall]

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes