Properly Locate a Wall Stud

One way to find a stud is to look for drywall nails in the wall.

Finding a wall stud is often a necessary but frustrating task. If you plan to hang a heavy picture frame, a television mount or a shelf, then it is essential that you secure it to the wall with nails or screws that penetrate into not only the drywall but also a stud.

Before searching for a wall stud, keep in mind that they are usually positioned on 16-inch centers; in rare cases, they are on 24-inch centers. Also, electrical outlets and switch boxes are normally nailed to one side of a stud.

One easy way to find a stud is to look for drywall nail/screw dimples in the wall. In a perfect world, you would not see any dimples in the drywall; however, more often than not, if you look carefully enough, you can see them.

Another easy way to find a stud is to look closely at the baseboard trim. See where the finish nails are located in the trim. If the finish carpenter was worth his salt, the finish nails are located on the wall studs. Similarly, if chair rail or crown molding is installed on the wall, look for the finish nail locations on the molding. Again, the molding should be fastened to the wall with finish nails that are secured into wall studs.

You also can measure from the corner of a room to find a wall stud location, with the knowledge that studs are usually located on 16-inch centers. This method doesn’t always work, because most rooms are not divisible by 16 inches. However, when rough framers construct a wall, they usually start at one end of the wall and add additional studs every 16 inches along the length of it.

If the above solutions do not yield results in finding a stud, take a magnet of any type and gently run it along the surface of the wall until it sticks to the wall. When it does, you’ll know the magnet is directly over a drywall nail or screw that is secured to a stud.

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