Last updated on May 5th, 2022
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Both professional and domestic users can benefit from working with a reliable stud finder. A stud finder helps in avoiding accidents that may damage the user or the structure of what they are working on. You can avoid drilling into live wires or digging holes into your water piping. As usual, you can find a range of stud finders on the market but finding the best stud finder can be confusing. There are a number of things to bear in mind before settling for a model that you will work with.
It sounds like a lot to handle but really it is easy. We have done all the hard work and all you have to do is select a model that works for you.
Read through the review and find out why the Tavool Stud Finder Wall Scanner is the very best on the market. With sensors that offer highly accurate information, this model scans everything from metal, electrical wires, beams and joists. Automatic calibration is another thing we love here. We have many other stud finders for your choosing so feel free to analyse them all. Our buying guide will offer a good insight into what to look for in a stud finder. Let us begin.
Looking for an inspection camera to see in hard to reach places? – Check out my review of the best inspection cameras here.
BEST MAGNETIC PICK
The device doesn’t require any batteries at all and never needs calibration; perhaps one of the reasons it’s so cheap along with the simple design. Its portability is unbeatable, it even fits in a pocket. This screw locator has a soft grip and feels comfortable to hold. It can even be attached to a magnetic area on a wall for hands-free working. The CH Hanson Stud Finder may lack the bells and whistles of other expensive models, but it definitely does the job and no DIY enthusiast or tradesmen should be without one.
The first thing you need to decide is what type of stud finder you actually need, there are two different types, the first is a magnetic stud finder and it’s by far the cheapest. We really like the CH Hanson Magnetic Stud Finder but it has its limitations, firstly it is just a stud finder and will not detect anything else like pipes or electric wiring. It’s ideal for anyone who needs to screw or nail into drywall and fix it into the wood framing. It doesn’t actually find the stud, it detects the nails or screws that are fixed into the wooden stud frame, for example, the screws or nails fastening the plasterboard onto the stud framing etc.
The second type of stud finder is really a multi-detector, these can detect copper or plastic pipes, wooden framing and electrical wiring even when embedded into brick walls. They are more difficult to use and do take some practice to master but they can be invaluable when you need to screw into walls and have no idea what is behind them. They really can save you from accidentally drilling into copper or water pipes, which as anyone who has done this will know, is a real disaster.
Our Top 8 Stud Finder Reviews
1. Tavool Stud Finder Wall Scanner
The Tavool Stud Finder Wall Scanner is an adequate tool if you want to find studs, electric wires, wood and metal in your walls. The affordable stud finder offers four functions and additional deep detection. It can scan for studs up to 38mm deep into the wall, 1.57 inches for metals and 2.36 inches for wires bearing 85-240V of electricity. The deep scan function looks 1.77 inches into the wall. It is important to note that this model only works on certain types of walls like plaster walls, drywalls and popcorn ceilings amongst others. Heavier set walls like brick walls will not work with this stud finder.
Backed by audio and visual clues from the stud finder, the user is able to locate the centre of what they were looking for. The tool will get louder indicating that you have found what you were looking for. The sensors used in the stud finder provide accurate information and therefore it would be useful for both domestic and professional purposes.
The stud finder is easy to use because it calibrates automatically and it is ergonomic. The tool has been designed to fit in both gloved and ungloved hands with ease. You will need to purchase a 9v manganese battery to power the tool. The model is energy efficient and thus the battery will serve you for a long time before needing replacement.
- It is able to scan for electrical wires, beams, wood, joists and metal.
- Features accurate sensors that provide accurate information.
- It comes with both audio and visual clues on the LCD screen to give the user an accurate location.
- Sold at an affordable price.
- It is comfortable to use and it features automatic calibration.
For those who need a reliable stud finder but do not want to pay a lot of money can benefit from this tool. It has the basic features required to find studs, metal, live wires and wood amongst others. The accuracy offered may not be the crème de la crème of the market but for simple operations, it performs well.
2. Zircon i700 Multi-Scanner
The Zircon i700 Multi-scanner is a high-quality reliable stud finder designed for both professional and home use.
It can identify different materials such as metal, wood, AC wiring hidden behind ceilings, walls and floors. Because your house is made up of different components, you want a stud finder that can sense a variety of different materials.
The Zircon i700 is such a device and is very easy to calibrate and use.
The model also comes with a display that displays all the important information. It will tell you where the centre of the stud is as well as the edges, it also has an audio feature and visual feature. The Zircon i700 Multi-scanner has a backlit screen that can display the relevant information even in dimly lit areas.
It also comes with an inbuilt marker, this is sufficient support when you do not have a marker at hand. The marker is accurate and can be erased whenever needed. You can sense when you have found what you are looking for through the indicators. The signal indicator will be full when you are on target and will notify you of the centre. The audio indicators will also go off. Instead of a lengthy manual, they decided to use a DVD and simple instructions. This way you can get the information quicker and often it’s easier to learn to use a tool watching someone else using it rather than reading complicated manuals.
- Effectively finds wooden or metal studs up to 38mm (1.5″) deep.
- It can detect wood studs, metal studs and AC wiring.
- Can detect the edges and centre of studs.
- It has a bright display with an inbuilt marker for better directions.
- It comes with a signal strength indicator and an audio supported indicator for better accuracy.
- Comes complete with a DVD on how to operate the stud finder.
The Zircon i700 Multi-scanner can scan stud walls, coppers pipes, electrical wires and even plastic pipes making it a very effective stud finder.
Overall, this model is one of the best models we have ever reviewed and it’s not the cheapest model on the market, however, it is a fantastic piece of kit.
We like the incorporated pencil marker idea which is useful, the only downside is that although it is fairly robust, we would not want it getting knocked about in the toolbox so a case would have been a nice addition.
Overall, this model was faultless and had all the features a professional tradesman would need, because of its overall performance, reliability and affordability, we think this model is a real gem and is one of the best stud finders currently available in the UK.
3. Bosch D-tect 150 Professional Detector
BEST PROFESSIONAL PICK
Bosch has established itself as a reliable brand for decades and the Bosch D-tect 150 Professional Detector continues to attest to it. Coming in with five detection settings, you will be able to locate materials through different types of walls. The stud finder uses radar sensors that are able to pick up magnetic/non-magnetic materials, plastic pipes with or without water and live/non live wires.
Suitable for drilling applications, this stud finder has a depth indicator that helps the user know how deep to go. This removes the worry from the process allowing the user to be more confident in what they are doing. The tool is easy to use as it is calibration-free therefore saving you time in a professional environment. It has a backlit LCD screen and a handle to make manoeuvrability easier on the user. Priced a bit higher than your ordinary stud finder, this model is durable and it offers good value for money. When you purchase this item you get a protective bag and 4AA batteries. You can use the tool straight out of the box with no issues.
- It offers 5 detection settings that vary according to the type of wall being checked for studs, metal and live wires.
- Able to find a wide range of materials easily making it useful in different professional settings.
- Features an LED light that indicates whether a certain type of material has been found.
- Comes with an ergonomic handle for easy handling across large sections.
- Offers a protective bag to keep the tool safe when it is not in use.
- It has a depth indicator that is essential for drilling applications.
Would we recommend
Considering the price of the stud finder, this tool is mostly suited for professional activities. It comes with features like detection settings that vary according to the type of wall. Additionally, you do not always have to recalibrate before using the tool. We would recommend this tool for those engaging in different drilling activities and in need of a reliable tool.
4. CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder
BEST MAGNETIC PICK
The CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder is a super easy to use, small-sized magnetic stud finder. As magnetic stud finders go, they can only identify magnetic materials, this means it locates nails or screws in the wall so you can locate the stud in which they are obviously screwed into.
The fact that it can fit in the pocket makes it very convenient for those who do not want to spend a lot of money. They are adequate for small DIY jobs around the home.
It employs the use of strong magnets to sense where the metal studs or metal fastenings are. They are limited to the kind of material that they can scan for. Because you might be holding this product for a while, you do not want any edges sticking out and poking you. You want shape and design that can easily be handled by any size of hand.
To mark the surface that you are working with, the CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder has a two-system for marking your surface. This makes sure that the aim is accurate. These magnetic stud finders have no need for batteries that keeps them simple and low maintenance.
It is a little small so handle with care because you can easily step on it and break it.
- Compact size so will easily fit in a pocket on the job.
- Very strong magnets locate studs enabling you to work hands free.
- It comes ergonomically designed for a comfortable grip.
- It comes with a two-step marking mechanism and bubble level.
- It is limited to only to sensing metallic studs. It is unable to pick up on other materials or pick up on hot wires.
- It lacks a display monitor to a more precise location.
- Would be better with a small case for a little protection.
The CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder is a neat magnetic finder that overall, does a fantastic job.
What we love about this product is its portability and affordable price. It is more than sufficient for most homeowners putting up shelves, hanging mirrors, fitting a new flat screen tv to the wall, amongst many other similar jobs.
It does have its limitations, although it does do a great job if used correctly. It lacks the advanced features of more expensive models, however, it is only a stud finder, not a locator for finding wires and pipes etc.
If you have got a few jobs around the house to do, this is probably all you need and for its price it won’t break the bank either. Great value.
5. Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner
Best model for scanning multi types – Wood, metal and live wires
The Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner can detect studs made from various materials making it perfect for a range of tasks. It can sense wood studs, metal, copper pipes, live wiring and even rebar up to 4-3/4-Inch (120mm) deep into the concrete. This is a true professional multi-purpose stud.
It can be used in different modes depending on the material that you are working with. As stated before, there are stud finders that are more adapted to specific materials. And others that can pick up different materials. The ones that can pick up many different materials will serve more value for your money, especially if have the opportunity to use the different functions as most professionals probably would. This will also save you the time and frustration of purchasing different stud finders for different materials.
This stud finder operates on a 9v battery and will provide you with adequate energy to scan for hours if needed.
The Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner can recalibrate on its own which is an added bonus because it makes working accurately much easier. You can use this on any surface without the fear of inaccurate results. Inaccurate results can amount to unforeseen injuries and unprecedented bills, which we all want to avoid.
We like the fact that apart from automatic calibration, it has audible search support. This audio will indicate if you are getting closer to a stud or live wires. In the case that you have poor eyesight, the audio support will help you locate where the stud is.
To aid you in locating a stud, the Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner employs a colour-coded system. This colour coding will vary according to the distance away from the stud. This is a feature that is handy especially in regard to those with poor eyesight. It can also automatically locate the centre of a stud. This central positioning is an added bonus. The display will show you the status of the stud finder and the location of the stud.
- Features multi-modes that can detect different kinds of materials with ease.
- Locates wood studs, AC wiring, metal including rebar, copper and steel pipes.
- Powered by 9v batteries that give adequate longer running times.
- It comes with automatic recalibration for ease of use and accurate results and has an audibly supported signal search.
- Colour coded system to indicate how far you are from the stud.
- It comes with an automatic centre positioning and comes with an ergonomic design for comfort.
- Our advice is to turn off wifi because it has been known to affect its use.
The Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner is a top-end product that can be noted by its price.
We love the fact that they have included different mechanisms to indicate when you are in the right place for better accuracy, something cheaper models don’t have and can make them less reliable.
It has a compact design, it can scan through 120mm of concrete and 80mm in copper, which is also pretty impressive when compared to cheaper models.
Overall, a great model from a brand we have come to trust, the illuminated graphical LCD display is also very well designed and easy to read.
A great product that is worth considering if you’re looking for a more advanced multi-purpose model.
6. Bosch Truvo Digital Multi-Detector
Perfect for finding pipes and wires
The Bosch Truvo Digital Multi-Detector is about as simple as stud finders get, however, it is used to decide where not to drill rather than finding wooden studs.
The interface is so simple to use that a child can manoeuvre with it with ease. The one-button operation system lets you access different functions from one button. You use this button to facilitate scanning. This scanning will indicate the results by audio and a LED traffic light system when it locates metal, copper pipes or live wires.
It is designed to offer different levels of sound depending on how close you are to the item. The fluctuating noise is the indication you will need to off because it doesn’t have a display except for the traffic light system.
What lets this model down is that it cannot scan wood. It can only pick up on live wires and metal objects. What this means is that it is designed to alert you of where not to drill.
It can scan up to 70mm to detect steel, 60mm for copper and 50mm for live wires. This is inconvenient if you are looking to specifically locate the wooden studs in your building. Like we said before, the more functions there are, the more value for money you get. It does quickly calibrates itself when you switch the device on.
- Perfect for home use and DIY enthusiasts to find out where it would not be advised to drill because of the risk of hitting pipes or wires.
- For ease of use, it comes with a one-button operation system.
- It comes with a fluctuating audio indicator to indicate when indicates the presence of copper pipes, steel or live wires.
- Powered by 3 x 1.5V for maximum performance.
- It can detect live wires and metal objects in your walls and ceilings.
- It has automated calibration and an ergonomic design for better handling.
- It cannot scan and locate wooden studs and lacks an LCD screen.
The Bosch Truvo Digital Multi-Detector is a unique one. It solely relies on sound and an LED traffic light system to locate any metals or live wiring in the wall.
It has a lower running time compared to the rest but it is usable. It can be used in houses where piping may be hard to find and would come in handy when drilling into tiles.
It is somewhat limited because it cannot scan and find wood. Otherwise, it is a perfectly good product for all types of jobs.
It cannot really be compared to the Bosch PMD 10 Multi-Detector or the Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner, however, it would suffice for home use and comes at a pocket-friendly price. If you’re trying to locate wooden studs, this will not be suitable, other than this it does a fairly good job at avoiding pipes and wires etc.
7. Silverline 3-in-1 Detector
The Silverline 3-in-1 Detector can detect wood, metal and live wires and has a fairly simple design.
Its design is also fairly compact overall and probably one of the easiest to use. However, this size is convenient for out of housework situations. It is portable. To indicate that you have found the right stud or live wire, the Silver line 3-in-1 Detector uses audio identification and an LED guide. This audio identification gets louder the closer you move towards the target. We prefer models with detailed displays, however, sometimes you need to work with what you have.
The design will give you an easy time handling it. It doesn’t cost much, which can be reflected by the number of features available and its overall build quality, not bad for the price but don’t expect too much.
- It can detect various materials namely metal, live wires and timber.
- For accurate positioning, it comes designed with audio and light indicators.
- It comes with a compact and durable design.
- Simple easy to use design with an affordable price.
- It lacks an LED display for accurate positioning.
The Silverline 288659 3-in-1 Detector is amongst the simplest to use. Its interface does not provide you with all the relevant information that you may need, but for simple tasks it gets the job done.
Remember that the features are directly proportional to the price. If you need a better model, you could maybe consider the Bosch PMD 10 Multi-Detector but at an extra cost. If you’re looking for a basic model, then this is a good alternative to standard magnetic models without costing too much more.
A great affordable option but limited in terms of features.
Stud Multi Finder Buyer’s Guide
Before we get into our reviews, we would like to make something clear, multi detectors are not a magic device, they certainly don’t precisely detect the location of metal, wires or studs with just one wave across a wall with a big arrow saying pipe here because they simply don’t work like that. It takes experience and ideally some knowledge of what might be there, along with a lot of patience. It is possible for these detectors to miss pipes and also trigger when there can be nothing and it is usually being triggered by some little fleck of random metal in the brick or mortar etc. Just a word of warning before we start. With that being made clear, carry on reading to learn more.
Looking for a suitable stud detector can prove to be frustrating, especially if you do not understand how to use them properly and what the different features do. If you understand what functions they actually do, you will understand what to look for when choosing the right model for you and this could also save you a lot of money by not paying for advanced features you simply don’t need. A high-performance multi scanner finder will detect studs through the drywall and if used correctly are very reliable and accurate to ensure you avoid electrical wiring and pipes, copper or plastic hidden in the wall.
Below we go over what to consider and look for in a good multi detector
Types of stud finders
There are two main forms of stud finders that are available on the market. The two major categories are magnetic stud finders and electric stud finders that use the dielectric constant (the relative permittivity) of the wall to detect studs and objects in the wall.
Magnetic finders are the originators of stud findings. Magnetic stud finders are still relied upon today because they can be very accurate and affordable. Magnetic stud finders work by detecting nearby metallic objects that are fastened into the stud, usually, the screws used to make the stud and the screws used to fasten the plasterboard to the stud framing when making the wall itself. These are very popular with the CH Hanson Stud Finder probably being one of the most popular stud finders sold in the UK.
Electric stud finders, on the other hand, work by sensing the notable differences in building material densities. In other words, they look for small changes in the stable dielectric constant. Under the electric stud finders, you find some more distinctions. We have centre finders, edge finders and instant finders. Depending on what you are looking for, you can select accordingly.
There are more emergent stud finders that are defined by their special features. We have stud finders that rely on 3D and radar technology. There are brands on the market that have combined both magnetic and electric functions. This, in turn, produces a more precise location.
When speaking of durability, we look at the general construction of the material and battery life for electronic stud finders. The general construct of the stud finder is crucial because they tend to be dropped more often than we might like, especially in busy work environments. The material and the component of the stud finder must be made of high-quality materials. Rubber mouldings and robust plastic all add up to a quality model.
Battery life determines how long you can use this tool. We noticed that when using cheaper batteries the battery life could be poor with certain models, we recommend just paying for quality Duracell batteries.
Materials to be scanned through
The material and thickness of the surface you want to scan will determine the stud finder you want to purchase. There are stud finders that can scan various materials and some that are specialised.
These stud finders also differ in range. There are those that can scan deeper into walls and those which scan for surface objects. For example, our ‘Best Pick’ by Zircon can find copper pipes up to 38mm deep and ferrous metal, such as rebar up to 75mm deep so it’s always best to check the specifications.
Consider the size and weight
There are models that can fit in your pocket and models that are for commercial use. The sizes differs because of the different features and functions. Most of the stud finders we reviewed were lightweight and perfect for home and professional use. They can easily be moved and used whenever needed. The bigger models have more features and cost a bit more than the others. The wider the range the more likely the size will also be larger. DIY lovers often use smaller pocket-size versions. They are the least complicated and can do the job just fine.
Ease of use
The ease of use of a product is related to how simple it is to use. The features ideally need to be flexible and uncomplicated but some can be a little more difficult to use. Most stud finders have LED supported screens for better visibility which we like, the clearer and bigger the screen the easier it seems to be to read.
There are models that have fewer buttons and a simpler interface. This is just to make them easy for everyone to use and they are often better for the home DIY’er type person. Backlit screens also help. It displays the possible location, signal strength, battery charge, amongst other things and helps make them easier to read.
There are some models that have additional audio settings to notify you when you find a stud or something alarming which is a nice feature to have. Colour coordinated indicators also come conveniently in models that lack displays. This small thing makes a huge difference so be careful.
Price of stud finder
The price you pay for a stud finder will depend on the function you are going to accomplish and your own budget. If you are looking for one that will take care of lightweight duties and are magnetic, they will not cost you much. The lower-priced stud finders offer you basic features. Remember the more features they have, the more the likelihood that the price will be considerably more expensive and probably more difficult to use too. A good magnetic stud finder will easily cost under £10, however, the more advanced models are more reliable but will cost upwards of £60 to £100.
Do stud finders actually work?
Yes, stud finders do work, otherwise there would be no point of them being in the marketplace.
What can stud finders detect?
Stud finders can detect a wide range of materials including wood, metals, live wires, water piping amongst other materials. The level of detection will depend on the model you choose and the features offered.
Do stud finders detect wires?
Yes, there are models like the Bosch D-tect 150 Professional Detector that can detect both live and non-live electrical wires. Models like this usually work within a certain voltage that can be detected by the tool.
Will a stud finder work on plaster walls?
This depends on the model that you get and the quality of the features provided. There are some that can read through plaster walls and some that are unable to. Read the instructions to understand how to use the stud finder and what materials are applicable.
How do you use a stud finder?
Ensure that the stud finder is calibrated before placing it against the wall. Depending on what material you are looking for, select the right scan setting/function. Move the tool across the wall until the stud finder indicates that it has picked up a reading. Mark the point of the reading and proceed with care to avoid erroneous readings.
Do stud finders work through brick?
Yes, there are some that will be able to work through brick but it will not be easy. Some prefer magnetic stud finders to locate metallic studs and others prefer electric stud finders to locate wood studs. Regardless, the age of the house and outer structure will affect the accuracy of the reading.
As we have established, stud finders can be tricky to purchase as there features can vary from finding wooden studs to just locating objects such as copper pipe and AC wiring which you need to avoid. One that does everything is going to be the best option and we have discovered there is plenty of choice in nearly every price range possible.
Their differences are little but they make all the difference depending on what job you plan on purchasing it for.
One final note we would like to make, we are yet to find a stud finder that was obsoletely the one, none of the models we reviewed is 100% and they all can be a little tricky to use, especially the electrical models. They will all give a false reading or two, you only need to read reviews online and see some people saying how good the model is and other saying it was no use. In truth they a little time to learn to use properly. No model will detect everything every time and give 100% correct reading, however, they start and do work fairly well if you choose the right model.
Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API