5 Ways to Find a Wall Stud (without a stud finder) | Pretty Handy Girl

Using a stud finder is the quickest and easiest way to find a stud. But, if you don’t have one or are too lazy to find yours (I’m often guilty of this), you can use one of these ways to find a stud.

5 Ways to Find a Wall Stud (without a stud finder) | Pretty Handy Girl

5 Ways to Find a Stud (without a Stud Finder)

1. Measure from an outlet – remove an outlet cover and inspect the outsides of the box. One side will usually be nailed to a stud.


Then measure out to the left or right at 16″ intervals. US building code requires wall studs to be spaced at least 16″ on center (meaning the center of the studs.) This will help you locate studs. However, recognize that in locations near doors/windows or openings there may be a stud at less than a 16″ interval.

5 Ways to Find a Stud

2. Look for popped nails or dimples on the wall – It doesn’t always happen, but in older houses you might see nail pops where the drywall was nailed to a stud. In newer construction this is less likely to happen because screws are used.

3. Look for nails in your baseboard or crown moulding – inspect your crown or baseboard moulding for nails that might indicate where it was attached to a stud.


4. Knock on the wall – You should use this method in conjunction with the methods described above. Use your knuckle to knock along the wall horizontally. A stud location will have a higher pitched sound and feel hard against your knuckle. Lack of a stud will have a lower pitch and hollow sound.

5. Use a small pin – Once you think you’ve located the stud, use a small quilter’s pin to verify that you found the stud.

Wall-mounted IKEA LILLÅNGEN Mirrored Cabinet turned Stuffed Animal Storage | Pretty Handy Girl

If the pin sinks in up to the head, there is no stud there. If the pin sinks in about 3/4″ and then stops, you found the stud.


The pin method will save you the hassle of creating a larger hole only to realize that you missed the stud.

Okay, now go find your stud! {snicker, hee hee}


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how to find a stud without a stud finder

13 replies
  1. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    Good methods for newer construction. In a house with lath and plaster… drill and drill and fill….. even stud finders will miss due to all the iron in the walls. But I like the pin method, make sure to use a good sturdy steel pin not one of those cheap weak aluminum ones.

  2. Randal
    Randal says:

    Because dry wall is hung with either screws or dry wall nails, run a magnet over your walls lightly and you will find the screws or nails. I hang cabinets for a living and won’t use anything else to find studs. No pins in the wall necessary. At Lowe’s, a magnet with a carabiner clip is $6. Works wonders.

  3. Colleen Taylor
    Colleen Taylor says:

    I didn’t realize there were 5 ways so to me this was so helpful & will continue to be always. Thank you! I have seen some masterful ways of some women at work finding their stud but that’s a subject of another nature..HAHA!!!

  4. Bobbi
    Bobbi says:

    I recently added shelves and hooks to my art/craft studio and had trouble finding a stud for the hooks. Yes. I ended up with a couple of extra holes in the wall searching for a stud.

    Thanks for the tips!

    I’ll be sure to use them next time. 🙂


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