Sunday, January 4, 2015

Finding a Stud in a wall.

    Finding a stud can be intimidating to the novice. You are facing a pristine wall with nothing marring the surface and you have to pick a spot to drive a nail or screw in. Frankly its a crapshoot, and who knows whats hidden in the wall, like pipes and wires even! Well I'm here to put your mind at ease.

    Walls are made to have holes put in them, just ask any plumber or electrician, ha ha. In fact there are hundreds in each wall already, they are just hidden by the construction. Walls are designed to limit the chance of a nail being driven thru anything important, and if you learn these techniques to find the studs, you will be all set to hang anything you need.

    There is a list a mile long of items designed to help you find a stud, all sorts of magnetic and electric stud finders designed to pinpoint the stud exactly. But usually when I need to hang a photo I can never find mine. so I resort to the tricks of the trade.

    Walls are most often framed with studs 16" apart along the length of the wall. Sometimes they can be 24" apart but that is not so common. so if you find one stud you can measure over 16" and have a good idea where the next stud is going to be.

    The first thing I do is use my eyes. About 50% of the time I can find a stud just by looking at the wall. If you observe carefully, you sometimes can see faint round circles thru the paint on the wall where the sheet rocker has screwed the sheet rock to the studs. quite often you can see a faint trace of the taping compound covering the round heads of screws. make sure you look at the wall from an angle to best spot them.

    Then I use my ears. I gently knock on the wall with clean hands and listen for the change in sound. Start in one spot and move an inch or so to the left or right with each knock. the goal is to knock your way across a 2 foot width of the wall.  With careful listening you can hear the hollow sound in the center of a cavity and the "harder"sound as you come across the stud. Sometimes it takes several attempts, but with a little practice you can tell just where the studs are in the wall.

    Another trick I use is to look at the Electrical plugs in the wall. The boxes that the plugs are screwed into are most often nailed to a stud on one side or the other. with a little investigation, you might be able to tell which side the stud is on.

   The last and often the best way to tell where a stud is is to look at the baseboard by the floor. if you look close, you can usually see the nail holes in the wood that have been puttied up. that should be a stud, and if you have combine that with spotting electrical outlets or switches nearby, you should be all set to go!

    Once you determine here the stud is that you want to use, I recommend that you measure the distance from a nearby corner, so that you can then go to the height you want to put the nail or screw and find the same spot in the length of the wall. Put a small pencil mark to help keep your spot and you are ready to go.

   You can use most common nails or screws to drive into the stud with out concern for hitting plumbing or electrical. Wires and pipes are ran by code in the center of the wall cavity. Any that to be close enough to risk a nail hitting them are covered by metal plates.

    Good luck finding those studs!

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