stud-finder

DIY Garden is reader-supported. If you click through using links on this page, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

7 Best Stud Finders (2021 Review)

The best stud finder should take all the guesswork out of checking for wall studs behind plasterboard walls and searching for live AC wires. The main feature to look out for is the number of detection modes. The best stud finders will be able to detect both ferrous and non-ferrous metals, timber studs and AC live current. Not all stud finders are built to detect all these modes. The maximum depth of scan for each mode is also a big factor here and it can vary between models.

An LED indicator will indicate when you are close to your target – some models come with 3 LED lights and others with one. And the model you choose should definitely incorporate an audio alarm – thankfully most of them do. The best stud finders also come with an auto calibration feature so you don’t have to reset your stud finder before using it every time. Finally, although most models come with batteries supplied there are a few that don’t, so factor this in when comparing prices.

For me, I wouldn’t start drilling into plasterboard without a stud finder, so I’ve brought together the best ones available right now. Here’s what I found out… 

What is the BestStud Finder For You?

Back To Contents

Comparing the Best Stud Finders

Use the dropdown to sort the table by the feature that's most important to you.

  • Best For
  • No. of Detection Modes
  • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals
  • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metals
  • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current
  • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud
  • LED Indicator
  • Auto Calibration
  • Batteries Supplied
  • Cost
  • Our score
  •  
    • Best for quality and price
    • No. of Detection Modes3
    • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals60mm
    • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metals70mm
    • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current50mm
    • Depth of Scan - Timber Studn/a
    • LED Indicator3 colours
    • Auto CalibrationYes
    • Batteries Supplied3 x 1.5V
    • 4.25
    • CHECK PRICE →
    • Best for depth of scan (metals)
    • No. of Detection Modes3
    • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals80mm
    • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metals100mm
    • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current50mm
    • Depth of Scan - Timber Studn/a
    • LED Indicator3 colours
    • Auto CalibrationYes
    • Batteries Supplied1 x 9V
    • 4
    • CHECK PRICE →
    • Best for large screen
    • No. of Detection Modes5
    • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals60mm
    • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metalsn/a
    • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current51mm
    • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud12, 28, 38mm
    • LED Indicator1 colour
    • Auto CalibrationNo
    • Batteries SuppliedBare
    • 3.75
    • CHECK PRICE →
    • Best budget
    • No. of Detection Modes5
    • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals60mm
    • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metalsn/a
    • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current51mm
    • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud12, 28, 38mm
    • LED Indicator1 colour
    • Auto CalibrationNo
    • Batteries Supplied1 x 9V
    • 3.25
    • CHECK PRICE →
    • Best for ergonomic design
    • No. of Detection Modes5
    • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals60mm
    • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metalsn/a
    • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current51mm
    • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud12, 25, 38mm
    • LED Indicator1 colour
    • Auto CalibrationNo
    • Batteries Supplied1 x 9V
    • 3.25
    • CHECK PRICE →
    • Best budget alternative
    • No. of Detection Modes5
    • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals60mm
    • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metalsn/a
    • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current51mm
    • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud12, 28, 38mm
    • LED Indicator1 colour
    • Auto CalibrationNo
    • Batteries Supplied1 x 9V
    • 3.25
    • CHECK PRICE →
    • Best budget alternative
    • No. of Detection Modes5
    • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals60mm
    • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metalsn/a
    • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current51mm
    • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud1/2", 1", 1-1/2"
    • LED Indicator1 colour
    • Auto CalibrationNo
    • Batteries SuppliedBare
    • 3.25
    • CHECK PRICE →

Back To Contents

In-Depth Reviews of Our Recommended Stud Finders

Bosch Truvo Digital Wall DetectorBosch Truvo Digital Wall Detector

Best for quality and price

Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
4.25
CHECK PRICE →

Bosch Truvo Digital Wall Detector review

Specifications

  • No. of Detection Modes: 3
  • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals: 60mm
  • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metals: 70mm
  • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current: 50mm
  • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud: n/a
  • LED Indicator: 3 colours
  • Auto Calibration: Yes
  • Batteries Supplied: 3 x 1.5V

The Bosch Truvo is probably the best stud finder because it’s simple, reliable and easy to use. And it’s made by German tool champs Bosch. The Truvo uses a series of LEDs and different audio tones to tell you when you’re close to metals and live electrics. Specifically, steel at 70 mm, copper at 60 mm and live cables at 50 mm.

It’s a ridiculously easy to use bit of kit. One button to operate and a vivid set of lights that ping on when you hover above metal objects. There’re even directional bars that help guide you to the exact location of the ferrous or non-ferrous metal hiding below the surface.

As someone who often forgets to switch off tools, I was pleased to see an auto-turn off feature. It’s something you’d expect from the best stud finder on the market. The three included AAA batteries offer a useful five hours of continuous use as well. I’m happy to say it’s ready to work straight from the box.

Pros

  • A simple and straightforward stud finder. Compared with the Tavool TH510, there’s less buttons and settings to fiddle with.
  • It’s not that often you get a battery powered tool with batteries included.
  • This stud finder is sensitive. I’d rather use one that was slightly over sensitive than anything else. You can’t be too safe when it comes to electrics.
  • The simple lighting system makes short work of finding stuff behind the walls. Yellow when something’s close and red when you’re on top of metal. Almost too easy to understand.
  • Auto calibration saves you when, like me, you forget to calibrate the device each time.

Cons

  • This stud finder doesn’t find studs. It’s designed to find ferrous and non-ferrous metals. There’s no timber detection mode but you can still detect metal screws in studs.
  • It can’t scan as deeply as the Bosch GMS 100M. But it’s a lot cheaper!
  • Some users have found the device to be temperamental. Make sure you read the manual carefully before use.
  • Like most stud finders, your clothing and even footwear can have an effect on readings.

Back To Contents

Bosch Professional Metal Detector GMS 100 MBosch Professional Metal Detector GMS 100 M

Best for depth of scan (metals)

Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
4
CHECK PRICE →

Bosch Professional Metal Detector GMS 100 M review

Specifications

  • No. of Detection Modes: 3
  • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals: 80mm
  • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metals: 100mm
  • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current: 50mm
  • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud: n/a
  • LED Indicator: 3 colours
  • Auto Calibration: Yes
  • Batteries Supplied: 1 x 9V

Coming from Bosch’s “blue” range of professional tools, the GMS 100 M is a serious bit of kit. It auto-calibrates, has a large readout display, and features bright LED lights as well.

Compared to the Bosch Truvo detector, you can this detector find items buried much deeper. It’s good for finding ferrous metals at up to 100 mm depth, and non-ferrous at 80 mm. You can also scan for live AC current at up to 50 mm depth.

The LED light makes this one of the best stud finders for professionals, because it centres around a hole in the device. This means you can pinpoint the spot you want to drill and then use a pencil or other marker to push through it and make your mark.

If the detector moves across metal, it lights up red. And if it detects live AC wires, it flashes red to give you a suitable warning. It’s a great device because even though it’s capable and accurate, you only need to press one button for results.

Pros

  • I like the wrist strap that comes with it, it’s a bit of extra safety should you drop it during use.
  • It’s as simple as it can be to use. Select the mode and start scanning.
  • The IP54 protection rating is essential if you forget to wear the wrist strap!
  • The viewfinder hole assembly is made from metal. It gives the device a professional feel.

Cons

  • Some users have found that the blue casing can mark white walls.
  • It’s an expensive stud finder. Unless you’re using it all the time, you could save a lot of money on the cheaper Bosch Truvo.
  • Bosch recommend you take off any jewellery, gloves and sometimes even shoes. It’s a lot to do to find a simple piece of metal.

Back To Contents

Folai Multifunction Wall ScannerFolai Multifunction Wall Scanner

Best for large screen

Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
3.75
CHECK PRICE →

Folai Multifunction Wall Scanner review

Specifications

  • No. of Detection Modes: 5
  • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals: 60mm
  • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metals: n/a
  • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current: 51mm
  • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud: 12, 28, 38mm
  • LED Indicator: 1 colour
  • Auto Calibration: No
  • Batteries Supplied: Bare

If you want a 5 in 1 wall scanner without breaking the bank, the Folai TH250 wall stud finder is one of the best wall scanners for the money. Even though it needs calibrating for every use, I think it’s easy to operate and seems accurate as well.

The large screen shows you everything you need to know- when you’re close to a stud the display comes to life with a handy arrow that points to where the middle of it is. And when you’re dead on, it plays a tone and tells you “Centre”. Simple.

The three depths for timber stud scanning are 12, 28 and 38 mm, it can read AC current at 51 mm depth and check for metals up to 60 mm deep. That means it’s up there with some of the best stud finders in terms of wall penetration.

Pros

  • You can search for metals, timber, and live electrical wires.
  • The small “v” shaped groove in the top of the detector keeps your pencil centred.
  • It’s easy to use. You only need to press two buttons to get going.
  • The large visual “centre” display works well and couldn’t be easier to read.

Cons

  • Calibrating the device before each use is a pain.
  • For an accurate reading you need to make several scans of the target area.
  • An auto turnoff function is essential in these pieces of kit if you ask me. It’s a disaster waiting to happen when your batteries run out.
  • It doesn’t come supplied with batteries. You’ll have to find some yourself.

Back To Contents

Merece 5 in 1 Stud Finder Wall ScannerMerece 5 in 1 Stud Finder Wall Scanner

Best budget

Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
3.25
CHECK PRICE →

Merece 5 in 1 Stud Finder Wall Scanner review

Specifications

  • No. of Detection Modes: 5
  • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals: 60mm
  • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metals: n/a
  • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current: 51mm
  • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud: 12, 28, 38mm
  • LED Indicator: 1 colour
  • Auto Calibration: No
  • Batteries Supplied: 1 x 9V

I was pleasantly surprised with this handy little 5 in 1 wall scanner from the people at Merece. Design-wise it’s clean and unfussy, with a sleek black and white colour scheme and matching LCD screen.

You can scan as deep as 12, 28 and 38 mm for timber stud work, search for metals and even find live AC wires. It’s ideal to have around the home for checking before you start drilling. Weighing in at 360 g, there’s not much chance you’ll get tired holding it up against the wall either.

I like the simplicity of the two button operation. Turn it one with the power button and cycle through the settings with “mode”. It doesn’t get much easier than that! It’s great that the wall scanner auto-calibrates itself before use as well.

I found the device to be reasonably accurate. It did well at finding studs and picked up metal behind plasterboard but was a little bit tricky when it came to AC current. I always advise turning off the mains before doing any work anyway.

Pros

  • A well-designed and simple stud finder that’s easy to operate.
  • The scanning area is large and helps you pick up studwork and metals.
  • The stud finder readout is backlit and crystal clear.

Cons

  • Struggles with pinpointing live AC current wires. Make sure you scan the area several times before drilling.
  • Make sure you read the instructions carefully. Lots of things can affect the reading, including Wi-Fi signal!
  • It’s not the cheapest of the budget stud finders. The JAXWQ stud finder does a lot of the same stuff for less money.

Back To Contents

Tavool 5 in 1 Stud Finder and Wall ScannerTavool 5 in 1 Stud Finder and Wall Scanner

Best for ergonomic design

Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
3.25
CHECK PRICE →

Tavool 5 in 1 Stud Finder and Wall Scanner review

Specifications

  • No. of Detection Modes: 5
  • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals: 60mm
  • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metals: n/a
  • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current: 51mm
  • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud: 12, 25, 38mm
  • LED Indicator: 1 colour
  • Auto Calibration: No
  • Batteries Supplied: 1 x 9V

With an impressive range of measurement and inspection devices and other handy tools, Tavool know a thing or two about making the best stud finder for the UK market. Their TH510 sensor wall scanner features five scan modes. It really can detect anything that lurks behind your walls.

I was impressed with the ergonomic design, it’s easy to hold and looks like something out of a sci fi film. The white body alongside the green backlit screen looks good and it’s thankfully easy to use. You only press a single button to operate all the modes.

The three stud scan modes work at depths of 12 – 25 mm. The Deep Scan mode is a particularly useful feature. You can use it to look through two layers of dense plasterboard up to 38 mm thick. It’ll pick up metals at 60 mm and live current at 12 mm.

Pros

  • This is an extremely lightweight and portable scanner at just 260 g. You won’t get tired holding this against a wall!
  • The back of the device has a soft texture to avoid scratching walls.
  • The screen is bright and easy to read. I like the “centre” feature. It takes a lot of guesswork out of finding the right place to drill.
  • Compared to the Bosch Truvo or GMS 100M, it’s an absolute bargain.
  • Even when you’re not in live AC detector mode, it will still show when you’re close to a current.

Cons

  • Like the Folai TH250, this detector needs to be calibrated before each use.
  • The build quality isn’t great compared to the Bosch Truvo. It won’t last anywhere near as long.
  • Some users have found the stud finder only gives accurate results in deep scan mode.
  • Some users have had issues with the live AC detection. It can be too sensitive at times.

Back To Contents

Jaxwq Multifunction Stud Detector Jaxwq Multifunction Stud Detector

Best budget alternative

Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
3.25
CHECK PRICE →

Jaxwq Multifunction Stud Detector review

Specifications

  • No. of Detection Modes: 5
  • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals: 60mm
  • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metals: n/a
  • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current: 51mm
  • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud: 12, 28, 38mm
  • LED Indicator: 1 colour
  • Auto Calibration: No
  • Batteries Supplied: 1 x 9V

It’s not a brand name you can say quickly, but JAXWQ make one of the best wall detectors I’ve tried out. It feels like a premium bit of kit without costing the earth and belongs in any serious DIYers tool kit.

Their multifunction stud finder boasts an “intelligent chip” that helps it find timber studs at 12, 28 and 38 mm deep- the equivalent of three layers of standard plasterboard. It’s detects the expected AC current and bits of metal under the surface as well.

The display is big enough, and with just two buttons to choose from it doesn’t take long to work out how to use it.

Pros

  • You can’t go wrong with the large and easy to read screen.
  • The plastic casing feels robust and not overly flimsy.
  • The backlit screen makes reading easy, even in the dark. Great for when the electricity is turned off!
  • The user manual is professionally written and packed full of tips to get the best readings.

Cons

  • Some users have found that when they install the 9V battery, the back of the device bulges out. This could contribute towards false readings.
  • You need to hold the device vertically on the wall to get an accurate reading.

Back To Contents

UltraTool LCD Stud DetectorUltraTool LCD Stud Detector

Best budget alternative

Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
3.25
CHECK PRICE →

UltraTool LCD Stud Detector review

Specifications

  • No. of Detection Modes: 5
  • Depth of Scan - Non-Ferrous Metals: 60mm
  • Depth of Scan - Ferrous Metals: n/a
  • Depth of Scan - AC Live Current: 51mm
  • Depth of Scan - Timber Stud: 1/2", 1", 1-1/2"
  • LED Indicator: 1 colour
  • Auto Calibration: No
  • Batteries Supplied: Bare

You need to find wall studs and you don’t want to hit live cables when you’re putting up a TV bracket. Luckily, the UltraTool stud detector is one of the best cable finders for the money. It’s not as accurate as a premium device. But it’s better than tapping on a wall and listening for a hollow sound.

It’s not quite as straightforward to use as some of the stud finders on our list. After carefully reading the manual, I got the hang of it though. There are two buttons on either side of the case, one for scanning metal and the other for studs.

It’s a useful bit of kit to have in the toolbox. For some reason, the detection depths are in imperial measurements- ½”, 1” and 1½” stud depths. It works the same way as the competition. The arrows flash up and it beeps when you’re on the centre of a stud.

Pros

  • Compared to the premium Bosch Truvo, this stud finder is an absolute bargain!
  • Use it to find different depths of timber studwork, metals and AC current behind the walls.

Cons

  • It would have been nice to get an included 9V battery.
  • Not as simple to use compared with the Tavool TH510. You need to hold the side button as you scan.
  • Some users have complained about the build quality. It’s not the sort of thing you’d take on site with you.
  • Showing everything in imperial measurements is a bit confusing to me.

Back To Contents

Things to Know Before Buying a Stud Finder

Stop tapping the wall when you need to find something solid to drill in to!

The Benefits of a Digital Detector

If you want to put up a TV bracket or a set of shelves, you’re going to have to drill some holes in your walls. The old way of finding where your wall studs are is by tapping across the surface until it stops sounding hollow. It’s not accurate and it won’t tell you where live electric cables are, which you’ll agree is pretty important.

A digital wall detector takes all the guesswork out of where to safely drill a hole. Simply turn it on and pass it across your wall to find out where, and where not, is a safe place to start making holes.

Features to Look Out For

The best stud finder makes it easy to find the timber supports behind your walls. If you want to put up shelves that can hold heavy weights or hang a TV that won’t fall down though, finding the stud isn’t enough. You need to find the exact middle to ensure a solid fixing, and the best wall detectors will do just that with an audio tone and on the display.

Some more basic models of stud finders will require calibrating between uses to scan your wall accurately. Even though it only requires a push of a button, it takes time and can cause problems if you forget to do it, so an auto calibrating wall scanner is a premium feature to look out for.

Back To Contents

Stud Finder FAQs

What is a stud?

A stud is the technical term for the piece of timber or metal that sits inside your wall and makes up part of the wall frame. It adds strength to the wall and works as a place to attach the wall covering like plasterboard.

What is a stud finder?

A stud finder is a small, handheld device that can be used to detect items that are hidden behind plaster or plasterboard or above ceilings or under floors. More advanced scanners, such as the ones in this review, have multiple modes that detect studs, live AC wiring, non-ferrous metal (such as copper pipe) and ferrous metal (such as steel reinforcement bars).

How deep can a stud finder scan?

The best wall scanners can detect wood or metal studs to a depth of up to 38mm. The scanner can also detect live wires up to a depth of 50- 60 mm. The actual depth a stud finder varies between models, so check your user manual.

How do I use a stud finder?

Operating a stud finder is pretty simple- you turn it on, select the mode for detecting studs, metal or electric current and pass it across the wall until it beeps. Different makes and models vary in their operation, but the principle is the same.

Back To Contents

Scroll to Top