Safe Use Of Stud Finders
When it comes to serious DIY and home improvement projects, a decent toolbox is essential. And no, we’re not just talking about screwdrivers, hammers or nails here. More substantial home renovations require a more comprehensive kit. One of these essential tools is a stud finder which you’ll need for any kind of DIY projects which involve mounting things on a wall, cutting into a wall, or generally locating studs behind some drywall.
What Are Stud Finders?
Stud finders (often called stud sensors or stud detectors) are a type of handheld device used to detect studs (part of a building’s wooden framework) behind drywall. The most common type, the electric stud detector, uses sensors that detect changes in the wall density as it passes over an area of the wall, identifying if it’s hollow or has a stud behind it. The electric stud finder also comes in two models, the edge finder and the center finder.
The edge finder works by detecting just one edge of the stud. When one edge has been found and marked, the detector can then be used from the opposite side to detect the other edge. Unlike edge finders, center finders only need to be used in one direction as they detect both edges of the stud simultaneously. Regardless of the type you use, it’s a good idea to repeat the process at least once to ensure the reading is correct. This is especially important before initiating any serious DIY projects involving mounting objects to a wall.
Preparing A Stud Finder
Before starting the process of using a stud finder, it’s a good idea to complete the following checklist to ensure your work goes smoothly and your readings are accurate.
Remove Wall Obstructions
When you’re about to work on an area of the wall, it should be clear of any obstructions as they may interfere with your work or they could be accidentally damaged during the process. Remove large obstructions like the furniture to give yourself space to work and remove hanging items like mirrors, pictures, or shelves as these could all jeopardize the validity of your stud finder reading.
Check The Batteries
Using old batteries is a guaranteed way to get a poor reading from your stud finder. Before using the device, insert brand new batteries or ones that have a full charge. It’s a good idea to use rechargeable batteries for any kind of home improvement work as you can easily check the remaining charge and you’ll never have to worry about botched readings.
Calibrate the Device
Before using an electric stud finder, you’ll need to calibrate the device on a small area of empty wall with no studs behind it. An easy way to do this is by using an anchor point such as the corner of a room or near a power socket or switch. Those areas will almost definitely feature studs so simply measure 6 to 8 inches away from there and you should find an area with no studs. Keep the device flat against the wall and push the button on its side until it indicates that it’s ready to use. This indication varies depending on the model so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Congratulations, you’ve successfully prepared and calibrated your device!
How To Use A Stud Finder
Using an electric stud finder is a simple process now that you’ve prepared and calibrated your device. When using a center finder, the first step is the only one you have to worry about. For edge finders, the first step is identical to the center finder but there is an additional step involved.
- Step 1 – After calibrating the device, place it near the area in which you’re trying to find the studs. Keeping the detector flat against the wall, slowly move it in the desired direction until it indicates a stud has been found. If an error message occurs immediately, you may need to go back and recalibrate your device. If you have successfully found a stud with an edge finder, go ahead and mark the area with a pencil or chalk. When using a center finder, both edges of the stud should be marked out. However, to get the most accurate results, it’s a good idea to repeat the process a few times.
- Step 2 (Edge finder only) – Repeat the process above, this time starting at the opposite side. As you slowly move the detector in the direction of the stud, it should indicate the other side of the stud. Mark the area as before. You may wish to repeat the process once or twice to ensure the results are conclusive.
Well done! You’ve successfully calibrated and used a stud finder so you can now begin your DIY project safely. Just remember to repeat the process as described above (including the preparations) every time you use the stud finder to guarantee accurate readings.