Our site is reader supported, this means we may earn a small commission from Amazon and other affiliates when you buy through links on our site.
Last updated on March 27th, 2021
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 in the market but finding the best stud finder can be confusing. There are a number of things to put in mind before settling for a model that you will work with.
Our Top 3 Best Stud Finder Picks
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
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 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 such as 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 now ideas what behind. 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.
Stud Multi Finder Buyers 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, 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 I know there can be nothing, this is usually triggered on some little fleck of random metal in the brick or mortar etc. Just a word of warning before we start. With 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 function they actually do, you will understand what to look for when choosing the right model for you which 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 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
Type’s of stud finder
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 which use 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 as they can be very accurate and very affordable. Magnetic stud finders work by detecting nearby metallic objects which are fastened into the stud, usually, the screws used to make the stud and 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.
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.
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 in the market that have combined both the magnetic and electric functions. This, in turn, produces a more precise location.
When speaking of durability, we look at the general construct of the material and battery life for electronic stud finders. The general construct of the stud finder is crucial since they tend to be dropped more 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 moulding 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 some 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 38 mm deep and ferrous metal, such as rebar, up to 75 mm 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 size differs due to different features and functions. Most of the stud finders we reviewed were lightweight and perfect for home use 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 screen 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, among other things and helps makes 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 the 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 finer will easily cost under £10, however more advanced models are more reliable but cost upwards of £60 to £100.
Our Top 8 Stud Finder Reviews
Tavool Stud Finder Wall Scanner
- 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.
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 4 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 among 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 as it calibrates automatically and it is ergonomic. The tool has been designed to fit in both gloved and un-gloved 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 long before needing replacement.
Would we recommend
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 among others. The accuracy offered may not be the crème de la crème of the market but for simple operations, it performs well.
Zircon i700 Multi-Scanner
- 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 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. Since your house is made up of different components, you want a stud finder that can sense various 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 we 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.
Would we recommend
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 at under £80 it’s not the cheapest model on the market but it is a fantastic piece of kit.
We like the incorporated pencil marker idea which is useful, the only downside is that all though it is fairly robust, we would not want it getting knocked about the toolbox so a case would be 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, this model was awarded our ‘Best Pick’ and is a real gem and is one of the best stud finder UK currently available.
BEST PROFESSIONAL PICK
Bosch D-tect 150 Professional Detector
- It offers 5 detection settings that vary according to the type of wall being checked for studs, metal and live wire.
- 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 which is essential for drilling applications.
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.
Would we recommend
Considering the pricing 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 re-calibrate before using the tool. We would recommend this tool for those engaging in different drilling activities and they need a reliable tool.
CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder
**BEST STUD DETECTOR**
- Compact size so will easily fit in a pocket on the job.
- Very strong magnets locate stud so you can work hands-free.
- It comes ergonomically designed for a comfortable grip.
- It comes with a two-step marking mechanism and bubble level.
The CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder is a super easy to use a 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 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.
Since 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 a 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 which keeps them simple and low maintenance.
It is a little small so handle with care as you can easily step on it and break it.
- It is limited 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. Overall though it does a great job, would be better with a small case for a little protection.
Would we recommend
The CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder is a neat magnetic finder which overall does a fantastic job.
What we love about this product are 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, however, 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, now a locator for finding wires, pipes etc.
If you got a few jobs around the house to do, this is probably all you need and at less than a tenner, won’t break the bank. Great value.
INTEY Stud Finder for Walls Electric AC Wire Stud Detector
**One of the best 3 in 1 detectors**
- Includes three scanning modes for stud, metal, and AC.
- Wide detection range; 3 inches for metal, 2 inches AC live wires, and 1.5 inches deep for wood.
- Quick calibration in seconds, allowing for accurate scanning.
- Has a backlit LCD screen to provide a clear look even in low light conditions.
- Includes a low battery indicator.
The INTEY Stud Finder is one fo the more affordable stud detectors with three scanning modes for complete detection. First is the ‘STUD SCAN’ mode that is for detecting and locating the edges and centre of wood up 1.5 inches deep. The second mode is ‘METAL SCAN’, which is suitable for finding metal such as rebar up to 3 inches, whilst the last one is ‘AC SCAN’, for detecting live wires up to 2 inches deep.
To use the device, simply choose a mode and move the device smoothly on the surface to find the object. The device beeps continuously once it has a found a stud. It works fast, saving you time and effort whilst making task completion easier.
The detected information such as centre line is displayed on a clear LCD screen for interpretation. The screen also displays elements such as signal strength, automatic calibration, and battery power. This model uses a 9V battery so is easy to change if needed. The screen also has a backlight function, this helps makes the screen easier to read even in dimly lit areas. The device always indicates whether or not it has been calibrated, providing you with maximum reliability and greatly minimising errors in detection.
The INTEY Stud Finder has a compact design with an anti-slip body that is convenient to use as a handheld household tool and most will feel that it feels well made overall. It really has a wide range of applications as it’s a great helper for DIY’ers and anyone who needs accurate stud detection at an affordable price. Should you have any problem with the device, just know that INTEY provides technical support if you have problems or are struggling to use it which is a bonus. The product itself is covered by a 24-month warranty for peace of mind.
- The instructions could be better, some may find them a little difficult to understand, especially if you’ve never used a stud finder before.
Would we recommend
This device is one of the more affordable models and overall is well worth considering, we like the simple ergonomic design for ease of use, just a shame the instructions are not a little better. It has automatic calibration, which increases accuracy in detection each and every time which we like. The stud detector has three modes of object detection and a decent depth range.
The featured LCD screen is fairly easy to read and understand, not only for detection readings but also for checking things such as calibration and battery charge level. It’s good that it also has a 2-year warranty just in case of any fault with the device and their technical team will be happy to help, it’s worth paying a little more for good customer support we find.
If you are looking for a budget stud finder that would be perfect for a range of applications, the INTEY Stud Detector is one to consider in the budget price range.
Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner
**BEST FOR SCANNING MULTI TYPES – WOOD, METAL, LIVE WIRES**
- 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 re-calibration 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.
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 if you get 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 as 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.
- Our advice is to turn off wifi as they have been known to affect its use.
Would we recommend
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 which makes 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 is easy to read.
A great product that is worth considering if you’re looking for a more advanced multi-purpose model.
Bosch Truvo Digital Multi-Detector
**PERFECT FOR FINDING PIPES & WIRES**
- Perfect for home use and DIY enthusiast 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
The Bosch Truvo Digital Multi-Detector is about as simple as they get but it 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. That fluctuating noise is the indication you will have to go by since it does not 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.
- It cannot scan and locate wood studs and lacks an LCD screen.
Would we recommend
The Bosch Truvo Digital Multi-Detector is a unique one. It solely relies on sound and a 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, this would come in handy when drilling into tiles.
It is somewhat limited since 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 but it would suffice for home use and comes at a pocket-friendly price. If you’re trying to locate wood studs, this will not be suitable, other than this does a fairly good job and avoiding pipes and wires etc.
Silverline 3-in-1 Detector
- 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.
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 a LED guide. This audio identification gets louder the closer you move towards the target. We prefer models with detailed displays, but sometimes you have 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 lacks a LED display for accurate positioning
Would we recommend
The Silverline 288659 3-in-1 Detector is among 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 a limited in terms of features.
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 among 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 which 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 which material you are looking for, select the right scan setting/function. Move the tool across the wall till the stud finder indicates that it has picked up 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.
Finals thoughts and conclusion
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 2021-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API