How to use a stud finder depends on the type of stud finder you own. There are three different types of stud finders: magnetic, internal capacitor, and radar. Let’s explore the process for each.
These stud finders are a good choice for people who want to hang the occasional piece of framed artwork, or bathroom towel bar. Magnetic stud finders use powerful rare earth (neodymium) magnets to locate the nail or screw that the builder used to attach the wallboard to the stud. The process to find these nails is simple; just slide the flat surface of the magnetic stud finder slowly across the wall in a circular or “S” motion until you feel a strong pull to a nail head or screw. Once you have the magnetic stud finder directly above a nail head or screw, let it go, and if it sticks to the wall then you’ve found your stud.
In 1977, Robert Franklin designed a revolutionary electronic stud finder that relied on an internal capacitor to measure changes in density behind the walling. There are three different types of internal capacitor stud finder: edge, center, and instant.
Edge stud finders require you to calibrate the stud finder, then find the left and right edge of the stud independently, a three step process as illustrated below.
Center finder stud finders start similarly to an edge finder, but after detecting an edge, they use multiple sensors to show you the center of the stud. Usually with a sound or a light.
Franklin Sensors raised the bar on the internal capacitor stud finder, creating a different style device that they call an Instant stud finder. Instant stud finders sense the wall in thirteen locations simultaneously, then immediately illuminates the display elements that are in front of a stud.
Simply holding the device to the wall and pushing the button will reveal the stud below. Sliding along the wall will show studs quickly and easily.
The Instant Stud finder is the only device that can display multiple studs at the same time, if they are close enough.
Radar stud finders typically have a small LED screen on them. There are several modes that the device can be used to search for materials. You must select the material that you are looking for and then slide the device across the surface to search.
Here are some example images of the LED screen.