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How to Find a Stud with a Flashlight

Finding a stud without a stud finder doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Whether you’re installing new shelves, hanging a frame or mounting a TV, you don’t need a stud finder. Avoid putting more holes in your drywall than you need to and use the tips below for finding a wall stud.

How to Locate a Stud Without a Stud Finder

All drywall is anchored to your wall studs with screws. The mudding and taping process of drywall installation covers these holes up. After a coat of primer and paint, these holes are almost imperceptible. The secret to finding your drywall studs is looking for these holes with the help of a flashlight.

1. Turn off the lights in the room.

2. Aim your flashlight at a steep angle against the wall so the light beam spreads across the wall.

3. Look for small dimples in the wall, which indicates a drywall screw. Try looking from different angles if you’re having trouble finding them. The dimples will go from the ceiling to the floor in one straight line.

4. Use a pencil to mark a dimple. From this spot you can measure 16 inches to the left or right of your mark, which should take you to the middle of the next drywall stud. See if you can find a dimple there as well to confirm.

Look Before You Leap

Before you screw into the wall, give it a knock. The wall should sound solid if you’re on a stud – a hollow sound indicates you’ve missed the mark. You may also pierce the drywall with a small nail to make sure you’re in the right spot.

If you live in an older home, your studs may not be the standard spacing. Take a peek in the attic or basement where there is no drywall and measure the width between wall studs to make sure.

Miss a Stud?

If your screw or nail misses the mark, don’t feel too bad. Hopefully, the photo you’re hanging can cover the hole! For professional drywall repair, extract the screw or nail, fill the hole with spackle and touch it up with paint once the spackle is dry. Pay attention to where you missed the stud before you try again.

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