How to Find Studs Without a Stud Finder

Split image of magnet and wall studs.

So you need to hang something up, but you’ve got to find a stud first. You know those things that your father or grandfather taught you about but you forgot (or ignored) and just drilled a hole anywhere in the wall? How’s that method been working out for ya?

If you know better but have been using a different stud finding technique, here’s another one to put in your pocket. No gadgets, tools, knocking, or magic apps (yes there are apps for that) needed. MrDiyDork shares a super easy way to find studs in the wall or ceiling.

We’ve all had trouble finding hidden studs when we need them the most. Hanging heavy pictures, mirrors, or lighting can be totally thrown off if you miss out on the studs. Your stuff will be doomed to fall. But the process of running an electronic gizmo over the wall can be unreliable, as can your knock-knock skills.

In his video, MrDiyDork points out one of his methods entails removing an outlet or light switch plate and using its stud mounted box to estimate where other studs dwell. Measuring is involved. Sounds fun right? An inquisitive fan wrote and asked him about how to apply that technique for finding ceiling joists.

After trying to do it by guesstimating with nail pricks in the ceiling, he tossed some ideas around and came up with this easy one: magnets. Not just any old flimsy magnet, but magnets strong enough to locate those screws through drywall and popcorn ceilings.

MrDiyDork suggests purchasing rare earth magnets at a big box retailer or your local arts and crafts supply store. One form of rare earth magnets are also known as neodymium magnets and can be ordered online in various sizes and shapes.

First, he demonstrated on newly installed drywall with the studs fully exposed. It worked! Next, the magnet was tested on your typical painted wall with hidden studs. It worked again! To use the magnet, simply run it over the surface of the wall (or ceiling) until you feel a slight pull; if the stud is there, it will stick. Our MrDiyDork marked the studs with a small piece of tape, and noted that a level could be used to line up your markings.

The one drawback for some may be the size of the magnets and being able to handle them easily. Click on the video to find out how MrDiyDork got around that issue without having to spend extra loot. Save your coins by not having to buy a fancy stud finder and save your walls and ceilings from misplaced holes.

With this technique, you can hammer, drill, hang, and mount until your heart’s content. By streamlining this part, you can focus more on making sure your 20-pound mirror isn’t dangling or crooked. How many times have you missed out on finding the studs? Do you have an easy and surefire way of find joists and studs too? Share with us in the comments!