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Detecting Studs in Plaster Walls?


lfremer's Avatar
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05-07-05, 05:43 PM   #1  
lfremer
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?

Thanks!

 
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XSleeper's Avatar
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05-07-05, 05:59 PM   #2  
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.

 
tightcoat's Avatar
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05-07-05, 08:16 PM   #3  
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.

 
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05-07-05, 08:50 PM   #4  
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]

 
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