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10 Best Stud Finders For Plaster Walls in 2021 – Top Picks & Reviews

using Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner stud finder

Before you install anything on your plaster wall, it is important to ensure that it can support the weight of the item you are about to install. This means that you must identify the location of the wooden or steel frames (studs) behind your drywall first so that you can drive your screws or nails into them. If you do not do this, you risk destroying your wall, as well as the installed object once it comes tumbling down due to weak support.

The simplest way of locating studs is by using a stud finder. Stud finders are handheld gadgets that identify the location of the wall’s support frames by checking for differences in the wall’s density. Since wood is denser than plaster, the instrument will notice that and alert you through the flash of an LED light or a beeping noise.

Nonetheless, stud finders have differences in capabilities and quality. Luckily, we have done the legwork for you to bring you these reviews on the best stud finders on the market today.


A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Franklin Sensors FS710PRO Stud Finder Franklin Sensors FS710PRO Stud Finder
  • 13 sensors for enhanced accuracy
  • Wide surface area allows for faster working
  • Easy to operate
  • Best Value
    Second place
    CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder
  • Incredibly cheap
  • Easy to use
  • Extremely effective
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    BLACK+DECKER BDL190S BullsEye Stud Finder BLACK+DECKER BDL190S BullsEye Stud Finder
  • Versatile
  • Allows for hands-free use
  • 2-in-1 tool
  • Zircon MetalliScanner m40 Stud Finder Zircon MetalliScanner m40 Stud Finder
  • Excellent at finding metal studs
  • Comes with 2 modes, detecting even smaller materials
  • Can detect materials up to a depth of 4 inches
  • Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner
  • Uses laser technology to locate different materials
  • 3 modes to locate different materials
  • Self-calibrating to facilitate ease of use
  • The 10 Best Stud Finders for Plaster Walls – Reviews 2021

    1. Franklin Sensors FS710PRO Stud Finder – Best Overall

    The FS710PRO is an electric stud finder by Franklin Sensors and is one of the best of its kind. We are talking about high precision, accuracy, and reliability.

    This stud finder is equipped with 13 sensors that work together to identify the position of a stud with outstanding accuracy. Once it pinpoints the stud’s location, it alerts you through an LED display system.

    The FS710PRO measures 7.5” x 3”, allowing you a wide surface area to work with. This allows you to detect studs much faster than you would with smaller units. Weighing in at only 9 ounces, this device is remarkably light, allowing you to work for longer without fatigue. This stud finder is remarkably user-friendly, as it does not require any calibration before use. Simply turn the machine on, and you are good to go.

    It is important to note that this device tends to detect other objects behind the wall, such as nails and wires. However, it does not classify them differently, meaning it might lead you to believe that you have located a stud while you haven’t. As such, you will need to move the stud finder around that area to confirm that what you have detected is indeed a stud.

    Nonetheless, the Franklin Sensors FS710PRO’s remarkable precision is what earns it the first position on this list.

    Pros
    • 13 sensors for enhanced accuracy
    • Wide surface area allows for faster working
    • Easy to operate
    • Lightweight
    Cons
    • Does not distinguish between studs and other materials

    2. CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder – Best Value

    CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder

    If you are on a budget, the CH Hanson 03040 is worth serious consideration. Unlike the Franklin Sensors FS710PRO, the CH Hanson 03040 utilizes magnets to look for studs. This design enhances its pocket-friendliness further, as you do not have to worry about replacing batteries.

    The 03040 uses powerful magnets to locate the position of nails or screws on a stud, thus allowing you to know where the wooden stud is. As you can imagine, it works even better for metal studs. The magnets are so powerful that the stud finder can stick to the wall to allow for hands-free use.

    Due to its simple design, the CH Hanson 03040 is extremely user-friendly; it requires no skills to use, it comes with a soft grip pad for comfort and is small enough to fit into a regular pocket.

    The only issue with using a magnetic stud finder is that there is no way of telling where a stud starts and stops. Nonetheless, for its practicality, the CH Hanson 03040 is one of the best stud finders for plaster walls for the money.

    Pros
    • Incredibly cheap
    • Easy to use
    • Extremely effective
    • Ideal for beginners and seasoned vets
    Cons
    • Doesn’t  indicate where a stud starts and stops

    3. BLACK+DECKER BDL190S BullsEye Stud Finder – Premium Choice

    BLACK+DECKER BDL190S BullsEye Stud Finder

    The BDL190S  stud finder by Black and Decker is a versatile unit that also serves as an auto-leveling laser. It allows you to detect wood, metal, and live wires. This allows you to know exactly what is beneath the wall to avoid drilling into materials that are not studs. It comes with an LCD screen for displaying that information.

    Once you identify the location of a stud, the auto-leveling functions allow you to drill in screws or nails along an even line. It does that by projecting a clear red line along the wall. This feature is incredibly convenient, as you do not have to invest in a separate leveling tool.

    What’s more, it allows for hands-free usage, thanks to the hanging pin it comes with. But it does come at a higher cost than most models on this list.

    Pros
    • Versatile
    • Allows for hands-free use
    • 2-in-1 tool
    Cons
    • Pricey

    4. Zircon MetalliScanner m40 Stud Finder

    Zircon MetalliScanner m40 Stud Finder

    As its name suggests, the Zircon MetalliScanner is a unit that specializes in metal detection. As a result, it is ideal for homes or buildings with metal studs. In theory, however, it should also work for wooden studs since they contain nails.

    It is highly effective at its job, as it can detect metal in walls that are up to 4 inches thick, which is more than twice the depth that other stud finders are capable of detecting.

    For enhanced effectiveness, it comes with two scan modes: narrow and wide. The narrow scan mode identifies small objects such as screws and nails, while the wide scan mode is effective for detecting conduits and metal wirings.

    The Zircon M40 is also effective at finding rebar in concrete when looking to drill, adding to its versatility. The downside of this stud finder is that it is not particularly adept at finding wooden studs.

    Pros
    • Excellent at finding metal studs
    • Can detect materials up to a depth of 4 inches
    • Comes with 2  modes, detecting even smaller materials
    • Can find rebar in concrete
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Not the best at detecting wooden studs

    5. Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner

    Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner

    The GMS120 by Bosch is a beast of a stud finder that uses laser technology to locate wood and metal studs, as well as live wiring in your walls.

    The GMS120 can detect wood that is up to 1½ inches deep in the wall. It works even better for other materials, as it can detect live wires that are 2 inches deep, 3⅛ inches for copper, and 4 ¾ inches deep in cured concrete.

    What perhaps sets this device apart from other stud finders is its capability to determine the center of an object. You can choose to turn that capability on and off, depending on your needs.

    Despite its relatively advanced features, this stud finder is easy to use, thanks in part to its self-calibrating mechanism. This means that you can start using it right away. It comes with three different modes to choose from depending on the particular material you want to locate. The GMS120 features a large LCD screen to facilitate that purpose.

    Nonetheless, the LCD screen can be difficult to read because it is relatively dim. The GMS120 is also prone to false positives.

    Pros
    • Uses laser technology to locate different materials
    • Self-calibrating to facilitate ease of use
    • 3 modes to locate different materials
    Cons
    • The screen can be difficult to read
    • A lot of false positives

    6. CRAFTSMAN CMHT77633 Stud Finder

    CRAFTSMAN CMHT77633 Stud Finder

    This unit by the highly-reputable CRAFTSMAN is an electric stud finder that comes with an LCD display to facilitate ease of use.

    Thanks to its compact and lightweight construction, this stud finder is extremely portable. This design allows you to use it in unorthodox places, such as the roof slab or ceiling. It has a decent detection depth of ¾ inches and detects studs covered by fabrics and wallpapers.

    This stud finder is remarkably durable too. Its body is shock-resistant to reduce the consequences of high impact, while its water-resistant housing allows it to keep working even in places with a lot of moisture.

    Craftsman gives you the assurance of reliability through the full lifetime warranty that comes with this stud finder. Nonetheless, the Craftsman CMHT77633 is not designed for professional use, as it is not highly accurate.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Simple to use
    Cons
    • Not highly accurate
    • Not ideal for professional use

    7.  Zircon A200 Stud Finder

    Zircon A200 Stud Finder

    The A200 by Zircon is incredibly practical, as it locates both the stud and its center, thus eliminating any possibility of guesswork. Moreover, it also detects metals and electrical wiring.

    The A200 features high accuracy levels, thanks to the auto-correcting technology it comes with. This target uses a signal strength detector to display how shallow or deep a target is within the wall.

    You will also appreciate the ergonomic design of the A200’s grip that makes it comfortable to work with regardless of hand size.

    However, we noted that this product has reliability issues.

    Pros
    • Good accuracy levels
    • Ergonomic design
    Cons
    • Not reliable

    8. VIVREAL TH240B Stud Finder Wall Scanner

    VIVREAL TH240B Stud Finder Wall Scanner

    The TH240B stud finder by VIV REAL is a reliable unit that works to locate the edges and centers of studs, thus making the entire process a lot easier and quicker. It can also detect live AC wire.

    To facilitate accuracy and effectiveness, this gadget comes with 4 scanning modes. Depending on the task at hand, you can set the machine to either one of the following modes: STUD SCAN, DEEP MODE, METAL SCAN, and AC SCAN. The stud scan finds and locates the edges and centers of wood and metal studs that are up to ¾ inches deep. The deep mode locates materials that are 1 ½ inches deep into the wall. The metal scan mode specifically looks for metals, while the AC scan mode looks for live wires in the wall.

    For ease of use, this stud finder utilizes both a beep signal alert and a graphical LCD display to notify you once it detects some material.

    Nonetheless, the fact that this unit requires calibration to use means that it might not be user-friendly to everyone. It also does not come with its own battery, meaning you have to get yours.

    Pros
    • Multiple scanning modes
    • Can detect live AC wire
    Cons
    • Not user friendly
    • Does not come with a battery

    9. TACKLIFE Stud Finder

    TACKLIFE Stud Finder

    This stud finder by Tacklife is another unit that is effective at pinpointing the exact center and edges of a stud.

    Featuring a compact build, this tuck finder is comfortable to use as it fits in the hand comfortably. It comes with two scanning modes: StudScan and the ThickScan. The StudScan mode allows you to locate the edges of wood and metal studs, while the ThickScan mode allows you to detect metal objects that are embedded deep into the wall.

    Since the gadget allows you to switch between these modes, you have the freedom to fine-tune the stud finder to meet your needs. Once it identifies the object of interest, it emits a series of beep sounds, and an orange light indicator on its LCD display turns on.

    Nonetheless, it is neither accurate nor precise enough to be used professionally. Its LCD display could also use an upgrade.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Difficult to read due to poor LCD display
    • Unreliable

    10. AOM Stud Finder

    AOM Stud Finder

    This stud finder by AOM might not be the most accurate, but it features a friendly price point, making it worth considering for those looking for a cheap stud finder for home use.

    It comes with 4 different scanning modes to allow you to locate wood, metal, joist, and AC wires. It is also easy and comfortable to use, in addition to being remarkably durable.

    Nonetheless, this is not among the first tools to consider, as its unreliability when it comes to providing accurate readings can be disconcerting.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    Cons
    • Unreliable
    • Might not come with batteries

    Buyer’s Guide

    Although they can be quite similar in appearance, stud finders can vary significantly in terms of the quality of design and build. To ensure that you get a good and reliable unit, consider the following factors.

    Type: Magnetic vs Electric

    Stud finders can be categorized according to the principles they use to find studs. They can be either magnetic or electric.

    Magnetic finders are simple and easy to use. They contain magnets that find metal objects within the wall. While a magnetic finder might work best for metal studs, it can also work for wooden studs by locating the nails used on the wooden stud. While cheaper than electric stud finders, they tend not to be as accurate or as versatile.

    Electric stud finders work by measuring the density of a wall in various locations. By identifying areas in the wall that are denser than others, they will usually have located the stud. These units can even be programmed to find both the edge and center of a stud with impressive accuracy. Electric stud finders are typically more expensive thanks to their high accuracy levels and versatility.

    Additional Features

    A great stud finder is one that does more than simply locate a stud; it should also come with features that complement its use, such as a lever or a laser light. This means that you will only need to invest in one tool.

    Variety of Modes

    Since stud finders today do more than just locate wood and metal studs, you should also ensure that yours could do the same as well to enhance your versatility. The ideal stud finder should allow you to specify the exact material you are looking for.

    woman using BLACK+DECKER BDL190S BullsEye Stud Finder

    Frequency of use

    If you are simply looking for a gadget you can use to find studs to drive nails into so that you can hang a picture, then you probably do not need a stud finder with multiple features. However, if you are working on projects that require you to find studs regularly, then you definitely need a powerful and reliable detector.

    Price

    As with any other product, price should not be the first thing that draws you to the stud finder. This is because low-priced items tend to be lower in quality. If you are on a budget, consider looking for the best magnetic stud finder you can get, as magnetic units tend to be cheaper.

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    Conclusion

    A stud finder is one of those tools whose importance is not appreciated enough until you need one. As such, most people do not know that these devices can vary significantly in practicality and quality.

    After doing numerous comparisons, we found the Franklin Sensors FS710PRO to be arguably the best stud finder on the market today. It features high accuracy levels, is easy to use, has a durable construction, and does not break the bank. It is ideal for both beginner DIYers and professionals.

    If you are on a budget, you cannot go wrong with the CH Hanson 03040 magnetic stud finder. It is one of the most effective stud finders you will find anywhere and is incredibly user friendly.

    Hopefully, these reviews will bring you closer to the most suitable tool for your needs.

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