How Far Apart Should Wall Studs Be

Inside the walls of your home, there are vertical boards that frame and support the walls, doors, and windows of the house. These are studs, and you often look for them in case you need to attach something to your wall. If you are wondering how far apart wall studs are in your home, you've come to the right place because we have the answer to this question.

The general spacing for wall studs in most homes measures 16 inches on center. This means that the wall studs measure exactly 16 inches from the center of the narrow side of one stud to the center of the next stud. While 16 inches is typical for most modern homes, you might find that older houses have studs spaced out at 24 inches or even 12 inches on center or anywhere in between those values.

We know that it is very important to know how far apart wall studs should be because it will affect the installation process of many items at home. Keep reading this post as we show you ways to find the wall studs in your home as well as the right tools you should have in order to find them.

Construction home interior inside a framing on residential beam framework wooden new house - How Far Apart Should Wall Studs Be

How Far Apart Should Wall Studs Be?

These boards are everywhere in your home—from the living room to the kitchen and anywhere there is an interior wall, your home is teeming with wall studs. Known as the skeleton of the house, wall studs are an integral part of any home because they basically hold everything in place. 

For those who are unaware, wall studs are vertical boards that function as the framing element of the house. They support the walls of the home as well as the openings of your doors and windows. Without wall studs, a house will never be able to stand because there is nothing the walls could hold onto. 

Wall studs are typically 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 wood boards that line every single wall of the home. To make sure that the walls can be installed properly, wall studs have to be accurately and correctly spaced during installation.

Generally speaking, to install a 4 x 8 sheet of drywall, the spacing of the wall studs should be 16 inches on center.

What Is 16 inches On Center?

What is 16 inches on center - Wood framing on a residential construction site.

It is quite common to hear that the spacing of wall studs should be 16 inches on center. But what does that mean?

Technically, 16 inches on center refers to the measurement from the center of each wall stud to the next. If you'd like to measure this, simply put your measuring tape from the center of the wall stud and measure to the center of the next stud.

In most modern homes, the spacing of the wall studs is 16 inches on center. It is an industry standard mandated by the International Residential Code that many contractors and builders follow.

This general measurement is used because drywall materials can be centered perfectly using this measurement. It definitely makes the wall installation easier and more practical.

Can Wall Studs Be Spaced Differently?

If you live in an older home, it isn't unusual to find that the wall studs do not measure 16 inches on center. Some homes have wall studs measuring 24 inches on center. Some homes have a more narrow measurement—around 12 inches on center—or anywhere in between 12 and 24 inches.

Before the creation of the standard 4 x 8 drywall boards, many homes used lath and plaster for their walls, so the standardized spacing wasn't crucial.

The wall studs' only function was to support the framing and the walls of the home. The building codes did not require a specific spacing for wall studs during that time, hence the varying measurements.

Ways To Find Wall Studs

Ways To Find Wall Studs - Collage made from hands (both left and right hand) holding a stud finder (cable and metal detector) and checking a wall for safe drilling.

There are various ways to find wall studs in your home. If you are looking to install fixtures, it's important to know where the studs are so that you can secure them properly. There are tools that you can use to find wall studs, but there are also "analog" ways to find them.

1. Using An Electronic Stud Finder

Electronic stud finders - Digital detector man hand is scanning wall by sensors precision stud finder wooden beams soft focus

Depending on the features of your electronic stud finder, looking for studs can be as easy as sliding them on the wall. There are different models of electronic stud finders available, and while they make the job easier, they can sometimes be imprecise. 

When using an electronic stud finder, make sure to double-check and confirm the location of the studs using other methods. It might be extra work, but it will prevent you from hitting an empty space on the wall that doesn't have a stud behind it.

2. Check The Trim

Baseboards are typically attached to the studs, so it's a great way to look for the center of the wall studs using this method.

To determine the location of the wall studs, check the trim to see where it has been nailed. You will often see little marks or holes filled with caulk where the trim is nailed down. Simply measure 16-inch increments to determine the spacing of the studs.

3. Look For Switches And Outlets

All the switches and electrical outlets in your home are mounted against the side of a stud. You can check this by rapping on the side of the switch or outlet.

If you hear a solid knock on one side, this is where you will find the wall stud. Measure 3/4 of an inch away from the outlet or switch that is mounted on the wall stud to mark the starting point of the 16-inch intervals.

4. Measure From The Corner

Ways To Find Wall Studs - Photo of female hands holding using stud finder and pencil against interior home white wall

The great thing about the standardized spacing for wall studs is that you can generally pinpoint their location simply by measuring.

Do a "knock test" by knocking on the drywall and try to listen for a solid sound. This is where the drywall is supported by a wall stud, so you can start with this as your starting point to measure 16-inch spaces for the location of the wall studs.

5. Use Magnets

If the studs that were used for your walls are made of steel, you can use a strong magnet to locate them.

Steel studs attract strong magnets quite well, and you can verify if it is really a stud by running the magnet through the whole vertical length of the wall. The magnet should stick well from top to bottom, and you can now measure them for their proper spacing.

Kinds Of Stud Finders

Stud finders are relatively cheap, so it's a good tool to always have in your toolbox. It's important to have if you like to DIY a lot at home because locating studs every single time can be quite time consuming.

There are different kinds of stud finders available on the market, and you can choose whichever you are most comfortable using.

Electronic Stud Finders

Using a laser level and stud finder.See related

Electronic stud finders are very popular for their easy-to-use interface and their intuitiveness. They come with different functions—some can find the edges of the studs, while others can also scan the center of the stud itself.

These stud finders often have a display that showcases these functions, and they are quite easy to figure out on your own.

Check out this electronic stud finder on Amazon.

Magnetic Stud Finders

Magnetic stud finders are more of the analog type of finder, and they rely solely on the power of magnets.

This is quite possibly the most simple finder you can use because you simply need to move these magnetic stud finders to locate the metal fasteners of the studs. It also doesn't have batteries, so they're great to keep in toolboxes.

Grab this magnetic stud finder on Amazon.

Whole Stud Finders

Professionals prefer using whole stud finders because they provide more valuable information whenever they need to find the studs on the walls. These stud finders can provide more accurate locations of the studs, and they can also determine the thickness of the drywall. 

Get this whole stud finder on Amazon.

When choosing a stud finder, pick one that is easy for you to understand. If you are doing quite a lot of work with your walls, make sure to use one that has more accurate results in finding the studs to prevent drilling holes in the wrong places.

If you simply want to keep one in your toolbox for occasional use, electronic or magnetic stud finders are great to have.

Final Thoughts

No matter what kind it is, you'll surely find wall studs framing and supporting the walls of every home. These wall studs provide complete structural support for the house, and it is also important to know where they are whenever you add new fixtures and additions to the walls.

Always keep in mind their positions to prevent any issues whenever you need to install items on the walls.

Are you looking for more information about the studs on your walls? Look no further because we have great articles you might enjoy:

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How To Drill Into Sheetrock

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