Stud finders are a crucial tool when undertaking home repairs, general DIY projects, or simply putting up a picture. When drilling a hole or hammering a nail into plasterboard or drywall, you'll need to make sure that what you're attaching to the wall is securely fixed to a wooden beam, while avoiding piping or wiring.
Picking the right tool can be confusing, so we've put together a handy buying guide to help you find the best stud finder in your price range. We've included premium options suited to professional environments, alongside budget stud finders for use around the home. We've even ranked the top 10 stud and cable finder in the UK from Bosch, StudBuddy and more!
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You will find that most electronic stud finders are also capable of detecting live wires, along with other cables, wood and metal. This makes them a great choice for DIY enthusiasts and handymen who work in a variety of locations, as they're useful when drilling into brick or working around light fittings, switches and plugs.
As is the case with most electronics, you're going to see much better results with a premium model as cable finders can be notoriously unreliable when working with brick, concrete and mortar. When it comes to plasterboard and drywall, however, even the more budget-friendly stud finders shouldn't have any issues.
When it comes to simplicity, nothing beats the classic magnetic stud finder for hanging shelves, pictures, or cabinets around your home. These powerful magnets can easily find the nails in studs behind walls and ceilings, allowing you to map out where the wooden beams are without having to worry about batteries or annoying beeping!
While a reliable option for finding where wooden joists are, these cannot detect live wires or non-magnetic metals, such as stainless steel or copper - which piping is often made from. That said, if you're not planning any serious work,these tend to be considerably cheaper than electric finders and have very little risk of breaking.
Ensure accuracy when drilling holes or hammering in nails with a laser level
When working with an electronic stud finder, you'll notice that they often have a number of different settings to choose from, or different sounds, depending on what you're detecting. For example, you may want to switch from looking for piping using the stud finder's metal mode, to searching for live cables and wiring when drilling.
The more basic electronic options will automatically tell you the type of material that's being detected, usually with a simple display and an audible alert. On the other hand, premium stud finders may have specific settings that can be changed manually. This allows for better accuracy in their detection and gives you much more detail regarding a specific material's location and depth.
Different materials can only be effectively detected at certain depths. For instance, magnetic metals can be found far easier than non-magnetic metals, even if they're further away, while live cables and wood can only be found at relatively shallow depths.
If you're tackling a home decoration project, such as putting up some shelving or hanging cabinets, and are working with drywall and plasterboard, a maximum depth of 40 mm should be more than enough to find a stud.
For more serious DIY and home renovation, however, where you run the risk of drilling into piping, we recommend choosing the highest depth range possible within your price range.
We've also ranked the 10 best cordless electric drills to help you get the job done!
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A Professional Stud and Cable Finder With a Great Depth Range
A Cheap and Cheerful Stud Finder for Home Decoration
Hi-Tech Stud Finder for Professional Environments
Great Value Electronic Stud and Cable Finder for DIY Enthusiasts
Magnetic Stud Finder
Accurate Magnetic Stud Finder With Spirit Level That’s Great for Ceilings
Premium Stud Finder With a Full-Colour Touchscreen Display
Magnetic Stud Finder
Tiny Magnetic Stud Finder for Detecting Fasteners and Nails
A Cost Effective Option for Those on a Budget
A Specialist Stud Finder With Thirteen Sensors for Accuracy
Wall Stud Finder
Five-In-One Deep Detection for Wood, Studs and Metal Pipes
The Bosch GMS 120 is simply one of the best stud and cable finders on the market today, capable of detecting magnetic metals that are a staggering 120 mm deep. With a detailed display and three detection settings, this is perfect for any construction site.
A great feature found on the GMS 120 is the marking hole, which allows you to easily and accurately mark the centre of an object without moving the device. The LED ring also operates on a traffic light system, where green is safe, yellow means there is a nearby object, and red means you're directly over an object.
If you're looking for a simple and affordable way to securely hang a cabinet, bike rack, or similarly heavy object, then the StudBuddy is the best way to go. The extra-strong neodymium magnet is practically fool-proof, as it hangs on the wall once a stud has been located, so you'll know exactly where to hammer or drill!
At this price point, this is the cheapest stud finder available. Plus, you won't have to worry about any complicated settings, batteries running low, or technical issues.
The D-tect 120 from Bosch is much more than a simple stud finder as it uses patented radar technology to detect all kinds of different objects. It can even sense water-filled plastic pipes, various metals, as well as live and non-live cables.
The crystal clear display helps you find the exact centre of each object, allowing you to quickly switch between different wall types at the push of a button. If you're looking to invest in the best of the best, this is the option for you!
The Truvo is a no-nonsense electronic stud finder from Bosch that offers simplicity. Rather than an overly detailed display, it uses the same traffic light system as the GMS 120, accompanied by a beeping sound if it detects a live wire.
It automatically calibrates once the device is placed against a wall, recalibrating when taken off and placed in a new position. If you're looking for a user-friendly electronic stud and cable finder to avoid live wires, this is well worth picking up.
This pocket-sized, magnetic stud finder from CH Hanson is an incredibly handy device to have in your toolbox. Thanks to the spirit level embedded in the centre, you won't have to worry about missing the mark when you come to hammer in that nail!
if you're planning on working on a ceiling, this makes a great choice as the magnets will keep it stuck in place, leaving you with two free hands to use. Like other magnetic options, this stud finder is always ready to go as it doesn't require batteries!
Just narrowly missing out on our top five is the Universal Detect from Bosch. This stud finder offers a full-colour touchscreen display providing step-by-step instructions and clear details of what has been detected. It also features a marking hole, complete with Bosch's traffic light system.
Thanks to the touchscreen, this stud finder is about as detailed as you can get. Unfortunately, this addition has increased the overall cost of the unit.
The Magnetic Stud Finder from StudPop is the smallest option on our list, with a diameter of less than 6 cm. Unlike other stud finders, the indicator moves and clicks when a metal fastener is found, so you can be precise by following the little green ball!
While compact and accurate, it's rather expensive for what you get. Not to mention the danger of having something so small is that you could easily lose it. If you have an older metal toolbox, however, and prefer older methods of handiwork, this will be right up your street.
If you're set on an electronic stud finder for use around the home, then this offering from Tavool is a good all round option that's cost-effective. For example, if you're wall mounting a TV and aren't sure about where to drill, this is certainly worth picking up.
As a budget stud finder, it lacks the premium feel of devices from brands like Bosch. It's also worth noting that cheaper tools also tend to be less reliable, although it has a fair share of fans on Amazon.
Unlike many stud finders on the market, the ProSensor 710+ is designed to accurately measure the width of wooden beams and other objects. The strip of LED lights illuminates to indicate the position of hidden objects, allowing you to easily visualise what is on the other side of the wall, thanks to thirteen individual sensors.
While the best on the market for what it does, the lack of a cable finding mode is disappointing, especially when considering how expensive it is! Still, it's a premium specialist device that does exactly what it sets out to do.
The Wall Stud Finder from Ultratool boasts a five-in-one deep detection function to quickly locate wood, metal studs, joists, beams, metal pipes, and live AC wire. While 40 mm isn't the deepest, it's still usually enough to detect through most plasterboard walls, flooring and ceilings.
It's probably no surprise to learn that, as a budget option, there are many reviewers claiming to have experienced issues with reliability and longevity. However, if you need a cheap and cheerful option for a one-off job, this is definitely worth the price of admission.
Written and researched by David Sexton
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