Last Updated on August 29, 2020
You can’t just use any stud finder when you’re trying to hang something under a plaster wall. Most of the time, the plaster is hung over thick wooden studs that are spaced evenly, but too close together to get a good read from a normal stud finder.
When you’re shopping online, it’s not always easy to be sure that you’re looking at models that will meet your needs. Even when you are, misleading product descriptions can make it hard to figure out if you’re getting a great deal or getting ripped off.
Our reviews are designed to take the stress out of the buying process. We cover the good and the bad with each model so that you can go into your final purchase confident in what you’re getting. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide, so you can learn everything you need to know about these great devices before you buy.
|Top Pick||BLACK+DECKER BDL190S BullsEye||
|The Runner-Up||Franklin Sensors FS710PRO||
|Best for the Money||Zircon MetalliScanner m40 67044||
The BLACK+DECKER BDL190S BullsEye combines two great tools into a single package. This model detects studs, but it also comes with a laser level to allow you to find studs and hang level pictures with a single tool. This model is auto-leveling, which saves you time and frustration, and makes it, so you don’t have to worry about your skill while you work. It can also be mounted on the wall with the included drywall spike on the back, allowing you to hang pictures by yourself without feeling like you need a third hand.
This model can also detect live A/C wires, saving you trouble when you’re trying to hang something near an electrical conduit. These features together truly make this one of the best all-around tools for hanging pictures. The only real downside to this model is that the level works better than the stud finder. If you have tough-to-find studs or plan to use this model primarily for the stud-finder, then you’ll probably want a model with better performance in that area. Still, if you can make good use of both tools in this combination model, then you’re getting a great deal for the money.
The Franklin Sensors FS710PRO is the best true stud finder on our list. While this model isn’t guaranteed by the manufacturer for use on plaster walls, it still performs very well in that area, and some users report that it does better on plaster than it does on drywall. This model comes with 13 sensors, which allows it to paint a very accurate picture of where the stud is behind the plaster. That means you get better accuracy out of this model than you do with most. It’s also very easy to operate, as all it comes with is a single on/off switch.
This model is also compact, given its coverage area. It’s about 7.5 inches long, but is less than three inches tall, making it easy to hold with a single hand. With all of this upside, you might be wondering why this great stud detector isn’t in first. Unfortunately, metal piping and wiring can greatly confuse it, and while you would expect false positives, it more frequently delivers false negatives when metal is near a stud. If that problem were to be resolved, we would have no problem ranking this product first on our list.
The Zircon MetalliScanner m40 67044 is the model you want to use if you know that your plaster wall was mounted on horizontal studs. It detects metal, which means instead of looking for the wood behind the plaster wall, which is often ambitious, it finds the nails in the wood, which will be spaced evenly and give you a good idea of what lies behind the wall. Since it detects metal, it’s also great for use with homes or buildings that have metal studs. This model comes with two modes. Narrow scan is useful for finding small objects like nails, while the wide scan helps you see the locations of wiring and pipes.
You can also use this tool to find rebar in concrete, which is useful when you’re drilling and want to avoid rebar. You can also get this model for about half of what you’d pay for our top two models, so it provides the best overall value for the money on our list. Unfortunately, it has four inches of range for ferrous metals, but only two inches for nonferrous metals, so you may have trouble if the latter is what you’re looking for.
When it comes to using stud finder for use on plaster walls, there are two primary ways you can go about finding where the studs are. The first is to get a high-quality stud finder that’s sensitive enough to not only show you that you’ve found something near the center of a stud but show you the boundaries as well. That way, you can make sure that your nails are driven near the center for a rock-solid hold.
Or, you can go about it obliquely. The studs under plaster are nailed at regular intervals, so getting a model which senses metal can make it easy to find the center of studs, as well as any metal obstacles in the wall which you should avoid hitting.
The BLACK+DECKER BDL190S BullsEye is a great combination stud finder and laser level and comes with auto-leveling, the ability to mount it on a wall for hands-free operation, and it can detect live A/C wires, earning it the top position on our list. In second is the Franklin Sensors FS710PRO which comes with 13 sensors, easy operation, and great accuracy. What keeps this otherwise great model out of the top position are its problems with metal in the wall, which sometimes throws it off. The Zircon MetalliScanner m40 67044 is the tool you want to get if you’re looking for metal. It detects metal, making it great for metal studs, but is sensitive enough to pick up nails in wood under plaster, giving you a better idea of what lies underneath. Since you can get it at a great price, it’s the best for the money on our list.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have given you some insight into what makes a great stud finder for plastic walls. You should now be able to find the model that’s right for you at a great price.
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Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!