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If you own an old house with plaster and lath walls, you may have discovered how utterly useless a stud finder can be. When it comes to putting up some new shelves or hanging a heavy item, such as a mirror, you are going to want to know where the studs are located. Grab the strongest magnet you have and tie a piece of dental floss or string around it. Once you do, mark that spot with an X or a piece of tape. Trying to accurately find studs inside a plaster wall is hard. Finding studs in a plaster wall is not as easy as other types of walls, but it is possible – especially when you do not need to rely on a stud finder. You can try measuring on 16 inch centers from the nearest corner, but stud spacing was often not very even when lath and plaster walls were used. Once your knuckle hits the spots where a stud is located, the sound will change to more of a dull thud. Vivreal Stud Finder 4 in 1 Electric Plaster Wall Detector. So, because of the constantly varying depths, the stud finder is constantly trying to recalibrate, and therefore will not find the studs. However, electronic stud finders only work if the wall surface is reasonably uniform. I do have some other tricks for finding studs through plaster walls… Stud finders will not work with plaster/lathe. You could also try a cool product called StudPop which takes the magnet trick to the next level. This simple stud finder is a powerful magnet that pops into place when a stud fastener is detected. Put a small bit into the drill, and drill into the first mark. The addition of metal mesh at inside and outside corners does not help much. Studs are more solid, and you can easily mount your TV on them. Basically you’ve created a lower cost version of a magnetic stud finder. Without doubt locating wall studs within plaster walls is a challenge, especially when it comes to older houses. It would have to be one VERY small cabinet to mount to the lathe only. Primarily, the studs in the wall are metal and therefore, they carry a certain electrostatic charge where as wooden walls, lath, plaster and timber do not. Don’t waste your money on that stud finder. Lath-and-plaster wall surfaces are trickier than drywall. In many cases, the textures on the plaster wall and the junk (cables, wires, etc.) Even though the surface looks smooth, the underlying structure can be extremely varied. Most smaller items can be hung pretty securely anywhere on the wall by screwing into the wood lath, but for heavy things that weight more than 10-15 lbs, like large mirrors and TVs, you’ll need to learn how to find studs in a plaster wall. A question we often see is “Do stud finders work on plaster walls?” Well as a short answer, yes they do. If you own an old house with plaster and lath walls, you may have discovered how utterly useless a stud finder can be. Use a level to draw a line to the area of the second mark. This is a simple hack that some people say provides very good results. However as you knock on the wall where a wall stud is positioned, the sound will change to that which is more high pitched. Share it with us! The third trick is my personal favorite because it never fails! The weight of the item may cause damage to your wall, or worst still, come crashing down to the floor. Don’t waste your money on that stud finder. If you own an old house with plaster and lath walls, you may have discovered how utterly useless a stud finder can be. Required fields are marked *. You have to go slow. Ron had a chance to test out stud finders on stucco. Stud finders and scanning tools are used to locate wires, pipes, pvc, rebar as well as both wooden and metal studs. However, with plaster walls, the nails securing the lath to the studs are hidden under a layer of plastic. Move the stud finder over the plaster wall across the spot where the heavy object will hang. How to find a stud in a plaster wall. A: The challenge with lath and plaster is the variety of ways it's made. Do Command Strips work on textured walls? To find a stud you will need an electronic stud finder or a strong earth magnet. In our opinion, using one of the best stud finders, such as a Zircon i520 will be certainly up to the job! Every so often, the magnet will stick to the wall a bit on the stud location. If you are having trouble finding studs, you can use a stud finder to help you with your job. Once you find the stud, you can measure off 16″ to find the next one most times. Either turn the breaker off, or be careful not to touch any wires before attempting this or you can get a nasty shock. In such instances, you will need to use alternative methods to find what you are looking for, and fortunately, they are many. Because standard stud finders detect a change in density inside the wall, they don't work on lath and plaster-- the density inside these walls is not constant enough. Additionally, the plaster can crumble off over time and create thinner sections. Stud finders, however, will not always return accurate results with lath and plaster walls because of the very inconsistent method by which they are constructed. By simply using a refrigerator magnet and a piece of string, will enable you to detect the wall studs, due to the magnet identifying the metal nails on the wall stud. So finding wall studs is a must, if you are planning to fix items such as mirrors or new shelves to the wall. This one is the best of all electronic stud finders in the list weighing … However in this article, we will take a closer look at whether using an electronic stud finder is the best tool. The reason this works is because the wood lath is nailed to the studs, and the magnet is attracted to those nails. Because standard stud finders detect a change in density inside the wall, they don't work on lath and plaster -- the density inside these walls is not constant enough. Don’t waste your money on that stud finder. The lath is like 3' long, so the studs should be 18" on center. Try these simple and time tested tricks to find studs in a plaster wall the next time you need to hang something in your old house. Many of them can see through plaster and wood lath.. We cannot guarantee its performance on all lath and plaster walls. Then move the finder in a horizontal direction until the stud finder clicks, pops up or lets you know you found a metal stud. Electronic stud finders are generally inexpensive, but many people complain that that they're semi-useful at best and useless at worst (especially in older houses). Our selection as the best stud finder for plaster walls isn’t technically a stud finder—it’s a metal detector. Plus we will also look at a couple of other ways to gain the same results. Plus we will also look at a couple of other ways to gain the same results. A method which many people have tried, but it’s not the most reliable of methods in our opinion. Do stud finders work on plaster? Beware that depending on the sensitivity of your metal detector you may pick up old wiring, cast iron plumbing, or other things hiding in the wall. This would make your TV prone to breaking and would damage the plaster walls. Finding studs in metal lath plaster walls There was a thread from 2004 about this and the answer was to find an electrical outlet to see which side had the stud and the measure 3/4" to find mid stud and then to measure either 16 inches or 24 inches from there for the other studs. Good Electronic stud finder. although many old houses may have unusual stud spacing so this method may not work for everyone. They do work in concrete, by the way, because the material is of a more consistent density than lath and plaster. However, MultiScanner® models with Metal Scan mode (or a dedicated metal finder) can be used to locate the pattern of nails or screw heads attaching the wood lath to the studs. Magnetic stud finders have trouble detecting these nails, and electric stud finders are generally just unreliable on plaster walls. Visit my site for all kinds of tutorials on old house DIY and get ready to get your hands …, How to Make Charcuterie Boards Using Clear Acrylic Templates. We cannot guarantee its performance on all lath and plaster walls. Basic Zircon StudSensor™ stud finders with only Stud Scan and/or DeepScan® mode are not recommended for lath and plaster walls. To function properly, the wall surface must have a consistent density level, and be less dense than the wood stud. Run the stud finder or magnet across the wall until you find a nail head. However, MultiScanner® models with Metal Scan mode (or a dedicated metal finder) can be used to locate the pattern of nails or screw heads attaching the wood lath to the studs. Prior to the 1950s, most walls were built using a combination of vertical studs, horizontal wooden beams called laths and plaster seams. All you have to do is take the magnet stud finder out of its packaging and place it against the wall. It works every time! Railroad Rail Lantern / Sign Stand Split With Axe. They use a form of density testing looking for studs, not the nails in studs. Most of the stud finders are pretty poor at lath and plaster walls. If a lath and plaster wall has a high degree of inconsistency our stud finders may not work well, or not at all. These stud finders work by detecting density changes in the wall directly underneath the scanner. If you’re doing … Most houses built in the last 100 years were framed 16″ O.C. There are numerous electronic stud finders that do not rely on magnetic signals. Lath and plaster wall studs are NOT 16" on center. Just like my magnet trick, but a bit more refined than tying dental floss around a magnet. Q: Do electronic stud finders work with lath and plaster walls? When the plaster is applied over the horizontal “lath” wood strips, it can be denser or thinner in areas. As you knock on the wall in between the wall studs, you will hear a hollow sound. Another method is to use the receptacles and switches. This is NOT something that is particular to Zircon stud finders… Some people have reported that using stud finders can be a little problematic. Stud finders designed to sense a change in density in the wall will not do the job on lath and plaster. Franklin Sensors FS710PRO. Because the walls are secured into the studs using nails or screws, the stud finder and magnet will pick up on them. Of course none of us can look straight at a wall, to identify exactly where each wall stud is. (on center) and some were framed 24″ O.C. Because standard stud finders detect a change in density inside the wall, they don't work on lath and plaster-- the density inside these walls is not constant enough. Magnetic stud finders often won’t penetrate far enough and electronic models are iffy at best. Though there may be an occasional free floating box in an old home, you have an excellent chance of finding a stud on one side of the box. You can find the studs by drilling test holes with a masonry drill bit where the cabinet will go, OR... look at the baseboard for the finish nails---they are usually into studs. Whenever the magnet detects the nails underneath the plaster, it will identify this to you – simply then mark off these points, so as to know where the walls studs are located. … This is my favorite method and the reason is simple. Move along the wall and look for a pattern to show itself, and you’ll slowly be able to see your stud spacing. Your email address will not be published. If a lath and plaster wall has a high degree of inconsistency our stud finders may not work well, or not at all. To see which side the stud is on, take the switch plate cover off and take a peak inside. Most smaller items can be hung pretty securely anywhere on the wall by screwing into the wood lath, but for heavy things that weight more than 10-15 lbs, like large mirrors and TVs, you’ll need to learn how to find studs in a plaster wall. This tends to confuse electric stud finders, which work by finding changes in wall … Stud finders, however, will not always return accurate results with lath and plaster walls because of the very inconsistent method by which they are constructed. If you happen to have a small metal detector, you can use this along the same premise as the magnet technique. Instead, you should try to place the TV over studs in the wall. Electrical Stud Finders. Keep in mind there are some spaces between lath vertically so if you’re not having much luck try moving the magnet up or down a bit so that it is over top one of the hidden nails. Stud finders are great for many walls, but they do not work well in the case of plaster walls and ceilings. Move the stud finder approximately 16 inches to the right or left of the mark. Electrical boxes for outlets and light switches are supposed to be attached to studs. Best Stud Finder for Plaster Walls Zircon MetalliScanner m40. within the wall confuse the sensors on electric stud finders. Unlike the magnets which aren’t strong enough to be attracted to a pipe that is a couple inches recessed into the wall the metal detector may give you false readings. If you’ve got an instant stud finder like the Franklin Sensors T6, you can skip all of the sweeping and just move the stud finder around until you see a clear three-light indicator that indicates the position and rough size of a stud. One other method of trying to locate wall studs without a stud finder, is by knocking on the wall at various points. By using a stud finder, will quickly enable us to find out where the wall studs are, so we can plan the hanging of our newly purchased item. Tie a piece of string around the magnet, then allow the magnet to brush across your plaster wall. About: I'm a historic preservation contractor who restores historic buildings and teaches homeowners how to do it themselves. Laths have horizontal fastening on vertical studs, with wire mesh added and two seams of plaster applied over the strips. There are various electrical stud finders in the market; each comes with different methods of locating the studs in the wall. Your email address will not be published. However in this article, we will take a closer look at whether using an electronic stud finder is the best tool. However, electronic stud finders only work if the wall surface is reasonably uniform. But if you have plaster walls, you, unfortunately, cannot use a standard stud finder to do the job. Zircon MetalliScanner m40. … Try holding an electric shaver on the wall. Listen to the buzzing sound and when it changes to a more solid sound, you have found a stud. Therefore, since plaster and lath walls are not … Basic Zircon StudSensor™ stud finders with only Stud Scan and/or DeepScan® mode are not recommended for lath and plaster walls. This is because stud finders work by detecting differences in densities behind your wall. Prior to the 1950s, most walls were built using a combination of vertical studs, horizontal wooden beams called laths and plaster seams. Stud finding is a simple task and stud finders work in simple ways, especially the magnetic ones. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. There are a wide range of versions and prices, and, … A question we often see is “Do stud finders work on plaster walls?” Well as a short answer, yes they do. This compact plaster wall stud finder represents the affordable model … Both professional contractors, as well as DIY’ers have said that you can make your own stud finder, using a very basic construction. Dangle the magnet against the wall and slowly move it horizontally across the wall. This one may seem old fashioned, but gently knocking your hand along the wall and listening for differences is a pretty accurate technique to find studs. These are probably better than my usual method of just drilling a bunch of holes until I find something in the wall. 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