You’ve settled on the ideal location for your television, purchased the perfect television mount and gathered the necessary tools to install it. Now, you just need to locate a stud to get the process started. How do you do it?
Whenever you’re looking for something, it helps if you know a little about the item that you are seeking. Simply put, a stud is a piece of lumber that is part of the framing of a wall. Hidden away behind a layer of drywall or plaster, these vertical boards are placed in regular intervals inside the wall, and are typically 16 inches apart. Ceiling joists are kind of like studs for your ceiling. These horizontal boards form the framing for your ceiling, and they are generally set in intervals of either 16 inches or 24 inches.
3 Ways on How To Find Studs
Since drywall and plaster aren’t strong enough to support much weight, finding a stud or ceiling joist is the first step whenever you want to attach something securely to the wall or ceiling. There is more than one way to get the job done, so you can select the method that suits you best. Here are three easy ways on how to find studs and ceiling joists.
Follow The Clues
Do you love a good mystery? Break out your detective’s hat and magnifying glass and follow the clues to determine the location of a stud. Start by taking a closer look at the trim in the room. Baseboards, crown moldings, and shoe moldings are nailed to studs, so if you can spot the telltale dimple where a piece of trim is nailed, then you’ve probably found a stud. Alternately, pull the cover off an electric outlet or light switch and take a peek inside the electrical box. One side of the box will be fastened to a stud, and you’ll be able to see it with just a glance. Do you need another hint? Look for a return air duct. These are generally placed between two studs, so you should find a stud on either side of the duct.
What if the stud that you find isn’t the one that you need? You don’t have to change your plans. You simply need to use your knowledge of how studs are spaced and a tape measure. Measure carefully, and you should be able to locate a stud in the area where you want to mount your television.
Play It By Ear
You can’t see studs or ceiling joists, but you may be able to hear them. More accurately, you may be able to hear the difference between knocking on a portion of a wall or ceiling with a stud behind it and knocking on a space without one. If you rap on a surface that has a framing component behind it, you should hear a solid thunk. In contrast, rapping on a surface that is between framing components should produce a hollow sound.
This method is something of an art, but it can be very effective. When you think you’ve located a stud or ceiling joist, drive a small nail into the wall or ceiling to confirm your suspicions. If you’re right, you’ve found your stud or ceiling joist. If you’re wrong, you’ll have a small hole to patch.
Use A Stud Finder
If you love any excuse to use a tool or gadget, then a stud finder may be your preferred method of locating a stud or ceiling joist. Magnetic stud detectors find studs and joists by detecting the nails in them. You simply sweep the detector over the surface until it beeps or flashes to signal that a stud is present. Electronic stud finders use sensors to identify changes in the composition of the space inside a wall. They often require calibration, which means that you have to start your search by holding the stud detector in a space where you know there is no stud or joist. Once the device is calibrated, move it slowly along the wall or ceiling. The detector will alert you when it is over a stud or joist.
Unfortunately, stud detectors aren’t perfect. False positives are depressingly common, and there are times when the detectors can’t penetrate the wall’s surface enough to pinpoint the framing inside of it. If the stud detector does say there is a stud or joist present, it’s best to test the spot with a small nail to verify that a stud is actually there.
When looking for a stud or ceiling joist, take your time and experiment with one or more of these methods. It can feel a bit like playing a game of hide and seek, but locating a stud or ceiling joist is a crucial step in the proper installation of a television mount to a wall or ceiling.