How do I find wood studs in a wall?

Q: How do I find wood studs in a wall?

Residential Wall Structure

Residential buildings use wood stud to hold up drywall on interior walls. Studs are most commonly spaced 16” apart on center and some, 24”. The actual lumber dimensions of 2 by 4 studs are 1.5” by 3.5”, so the wood stud width is 1.5”.


Drywall and trim is nailed on the stud, and most switches and outlets has an electrical boxes attached to a stud on one side.

Find Studs with an Electric Stud Finder

Step 1: Approximate how high on the wall you want to find a stud. This is based off of where you want to install the fasteners for securing the TV mount.

Step 2: Press the stud finder against the wall and move it horizontally at the height in which you want to install your fasteners. Find the stud, mark both edges of the stud, then measure and mark the center of the stud.

Step 3: Locate the adjacent studs.

Step 4: Stick a small nail, drill bit, or screw into the wall to verify that there is a stud behind the wall.


Find Studs Manually

Method 1: Knock and Listen

Check by sound. Tapping on wall will produce “solid” and “hollow” sounds. Use your hand and knock along the wall. When you knock on a section of wall without a stud, you will hear more resonance from the empty space. Knocking directly on the stud will make more of a dull thud.

Method 2: Electric Switch/Outlet Method  

Electrical outlets and light switches have electric boxes, which are nailed on studs. Try knocking on both sides of an outlet to find on which side the stud is located and use a nail or pin to verify that it is there. Once you locate one stud, find other studs in 16” or 24” intervals.

Other: Look at the wood base trim of the wall; often you’ll find filled nail holes near the top of the trim. These nails will be driven into wood studs.


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