Stud Detectors: Don’t Pick Up A Dud

Wall scanners, or stud finders, are brilliant pieces of kit for those DIY enthusiasts who are in need of sturdy pieces of wall. Hanging pictures and putting up shelves, for example, can get shaky if you don’t have a solid support behind your fixture. The last thing you are going to want to do is to knock through to a hollow wall! With this in mind, it may be worth investing in a stud finder if you regularly struggle with finding the best parts of a wall to knock through to.

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Stud Finders: A UK Buyer’s Guide For 2022

As stud finders may not be the most obvious things you’d buy from a DIY shop in the first instance, it makes sense to read up on whether or not you feel you need such an item. In this buying guide, we will cover all the essentials you will need to know about stud finders, and will help you to look for the best features and options on the market. At the end of the guide, we will also answer a few commonly-asked questions to help make your shopping experience that little bit easier.

What is a Stud Finder?

A stud finder, or wall scanner, can be used to help you find wooden fixtures inside walls. They can also be used to help find metal, too, which will come in handy whether you are framing or in need of knocking through. These scanners are fantastic at detecting hidden features behind walls, meaning that you can easily prepare your project without worrying about knocking through to anything hollow, and without worrying about hitting anything you shouldn’t.

You’ll probably want to invest in a good stud finder if you work with walls a lot, or if you are likely to undertake some serious DIY projects in the near future. However, it’s worth noting that not all finders operate the same way. Let’s break this down a little further, and look at some of the features you might want to compare and contrast.

Types of Stud Finder

It’s worth looking at the two main types of stud finder before you buy. After all, your finding needs may differ compared to the average person’s!

Magnetic Stud Finders

These stud finders tend to be very affordable, and on the whole, they will offer a lot of support for basic wood-finding queries. They are fantastic at helping you to locate thick pieces of wood stashed within a wall, and they work by picking up on metal which may be fixed into the studs themselves. It’s simple technology, and for an affordable price, plenty of people rely on them.

Electronic Finders

More advanced models will work hard to find more than just studs. These wall scanners can be used to detect hidden plastic, piping and more. You can use these to determine whether or not there is anything directly behind a wall you are working with, and they will help you to differentiate between the various items which may be lurking behind the fixtures and fittings.

Many people prefer to use these advanced stud finders as they offer a lot of functionality. However, such functionality will come at a price, which means you can expect to pay more than your average magnetic models in the long run. They work by checking for wall density, and will therefore be able to work out more complex shapes and features invisible to the naked eye.

Things to Look Out For

As always, with any kind of gadget, there are going to be a few features you should look out for and compare. Let’s take a look at some of the main features you are going to want to bear in mind.


One of the main differences between magnetic and electronic stud finders is the fact that you won’t get a display with cheaper, magnet-based models. This may be fine for a lot of people, however, the added bonus of a screen lets you work out distances from studs. What’s more, you may get alerts or blinking lights to indicate what’s hiding behind the scenes. Not everyone finds these features useful, however, they can make for nice little add-ons.

Targeting Systems

Another feature of more advanced stud finders is a targeting or centring system. These will offer you a lot of accuracy and will help you work out stud sizes. Essentially, these systems take away a lot of the work for you, however, they can take some getting used to. What’s more, you will often largely see them pop up in more advanced or expensive stud finders. Do bear this in mind!

Size of Sensor

The size of a sensor is going to differ from model to model. In this case, bigger generally means better, as you’ll be able to scan wider areas, and may even be able to probe deeper with your scanner. Therefore, if accuracy is a high priority for you, do be ready to purchase a scanner with a large surface area.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s time to take a look at some common queries shoppers have to pose.

What’s Better – Magnetic or Electronic?

Many people prefer electronic finders and scanners thanks to the added functionality. However, magnetic stud finders still do a great job, and are generally more affordable. There’s no right or wrong answer – it’s all down to preference.

How Much Should I Pay for a Stud Finder?

This will generally depend on model type, as well as technology and functionality. However, an affordable electronic model should only set you back £20 or less. You can expect to pay far less, of course, for a simple magnet system. Be prepared to pay a lot more for enhanced accuracy.

Do I Really Need a Stud Finder?

If you regularly need to knock through wood or to set up framing or fittings, yes – a stud finder can be a lot of help. However, as we always advise, do make sure you check what verified buyers have to say, and try to mould that around your own experience.


Stud finders can be a real asset for DIYers everywhere. If you’re struggling to find studs or wall fittings, do make sure to invest in a good scanner with great reviews.

Compare and contrast online, and don’t always feel bad if you need to pay more for better technology.

Further Reading:

Buying Guide