The Best Cheap Stud Finders of 2019

If you want to hang something heavy on a wall (like a television, mirror or bookshelf), you want to secure it to a stud. 

Studs are beam-like pieces of wood (or metal) that run vertically inside a wall, spaced 16 or 24 inches apart on center. You can't see studs within drywall or plaster, but a stud finder can sense them.

Many stud finders are handheld and battery operated: They beep or flash when they find a dense part of the wall. Some models can detect false positives (like water pipes) or live wires (to help prevent electrical shocks). The simplest stud finders are just powerful magnets that are attracted to nails in the stud.

Stud finders are convenient, but they aren't necessary. Experienced handymen and contractors can find a stud by tapping their knuckles on a wall and listening for a change in sound. Nevertheless, a stud finder is worth it for anyone who wants to save time or double-check his or her guesswork.

Here are the best-reviewed stud finders that have sold for $30 or less in the last 12 months:

Good Price: $8 | Great Deal: $6

This battery-free stud finder sticks to the wall when it finds a nail, according to several Amazon customers. Many reviewers were amazed by the strength of the device's rare-earth magnets. The manufacturer admits that this tool works better on drywall than plaster.

Good Price: $25 | Great Deal: $20

This stud finder is more accurate and easier to use than other models, according to several happy customers. A majority of Amazon reviewers like or love this product. Some complained that the stud finder isn't as accurate as they hoped; others say the live-wire detection feature isn't reliable.

Good Price: $29 | Great Deal: $24

This stud finder effectively finds wall studs behind drywall and plaster, according to several Amazon customers. Some reviewers wish that the unit didn't take so long to calibrate; others wish that a 9v battery was included.

Good Price: $19 | Great Deal: $17

Veken's stud finder has a bright, large screen and is easy to use, according to several Amazon customers. Some reviewers were disappointed that the felt strips on the back of the unit quickly peeled off.

Good Price: $12 | Great Deal: $9

Several Amazon customers were amazed that Studpop's tiny, battery-free stud finder works well on drywall as well as textured lath and plaster walls. Some reviewers think this stud finder is overpriced for what it is and wished they bought a cheaper neodymium magnet instead.


John DeFeo