How To Use A Stud Finder App? [Step By Step Guide]

Are you planning to try the stud finder app on your phone, and you want to know how to use it? You’ve come to the right place, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.

Here are the simple steps to use the stud finder app to locate studs.

  1. Tap the activate button to start detecting studs on your wall.
  2. Move your phone slowly over your wall and wait until your phone beeps, indicating that there is a stud.

Let’s talk more about the stud finder app that you can download on your phone. Learn more about how it works, how it converts your phone into a stud finder, and how effective it is in the sections below.

Read on!

What is a stud finder?

Male carpenter using electronic stud finder to locate interior wall stud

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when homeowners knocked on the wall while moving horizontally to determine the location of a stud. Hanging heavy objects on walls—especially fragile objects—is always best done on studs. Using the knock method was all those homeowners had in the past.

In response to this, companies made considerable effort to develop wall fasteners that supported increasing amounts of weight even on drywall. Other companies turned to the development of a tool that would help homeowners to locate a stud behind the drywall.

No matter how sophisticated and advanced drywall fasteners get, there are just some things that you would rather hang on the studs.

Enter the stud finder.

A stud finder is an invaluable tool that simplifies the task of locating a stud behind the drywall.

Stud Finder Types

Ladder near wall with metal studs and insulation material indoors

Magnetic Stud Finder

The first stud finders use magnets to locate nails hidden behind the paint and jointing compound of drywall. Stud finders that use magnets are slow and ineffective if the fasteners are not metallic. Moreover, some walls that have a metal mesh render a magnetic stud finder useless.

Electronic Stud Finder

Because of the downfalls of magnetic stud finders, the development of electronic stud finders quickly took over.

Electronic stud finders have sensors that read changes in the capacitance of a wall.

Capacitance is the capacity of an object to store energy.

The sensors inside the electronic stud finder read the changes in capacitance as it hovers over a stud. A location with a stud will provide a different capacitance reading than a location with only air behind the drywall.

Since electronic stud finders use sensors that detect capacitance, they can also detect the presence of wires behind the drywall.

Radar Stud Finder

The newest type of stud finder uses radar to locate studs. However, because this is a new technology, the price of these stud finders can be higher than a standard electronic stud finder.

The radar that these stud finders use is so effective that it can also detect wires, pipes, and even small rodents that are behind the drywall.

What is a stud finder app?

Apple iPhone 5S displaying iOS 8 homescreen

There are several stud finder apps that you can download to your phone, whether you have an Android phone or an iOS phone. The majority of them are free, which is an advantage and disadvantage.

Free apps have the advantage of costing nothing to install and use. Thus, if you’re not happy with the app, you can easily uninstall it from your phone.

However, free apps will rarely get any updates or upgrades. Any update will be to address bugs that negatively affect the functionality of the app. Minor bugs will be unlikely to get any patches.

Improvements on the app will also be slow to arrive unless the developer plans to release the app as a paid app later. Additionally, the app will likely have advertisements. If it is a freemium app, it will have popup messages that bug you to pay the premium fee.

Paid apps, on the other hand, will have more regular updates, and patches will come out immediately to address bugs. There will be no ads and no annoying messages. The downside is that you will have to cough out a certain amount to use the app that you may or may not like.

How does a stud finder app work?

A stud finder app works like a magnetic stud finder. It detects the nails hidden in the wall.

The app can do this by accessing one of your phone’s many sensors.

By Using The Magnetometer

Stud finder apps access the magnetometer in your phone. The magnetometer is responsible for providing your phone with compass functionality. It detects the presence of magnetic fields, determines the strength of those magnetic fields, and then determines their direction.

A stud finder app uses the magnetometer to detect the presence of nails on your wall. The presence of a nail means that there is a stud in that area.

The majority of Android phones have a magnetometer. All iPhone models also have magnetometers.

In the unlikely event that your phone doesn’t have a magnetometer, you will not be able to use a stud finder app on your phone.

Are stud finder apps accurate?

Stud finder apps make it easy to use your phone as a stud finder. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, the accuracy can be very low. And since you’re trying to locate studs that are around an inch and a half wide, you will need an accurate tool to find a stud.

Fortunately, there is a way to make a stud finder app more accurate.

You need to know the location of the magnetometer on your phone. Knowing the location will allow you to pinpoint the location of the nail that the stud detector app is sensing. Once the stud finder app finds a nail, you can narrow down its location because you know where the magnetometer is.

Follow the simple steps below to locate the magnetometer on your phone.

  1. Go to the app store on your phone and look for a metal detector app.
  2. Download and install the app on your phone.
  3. Get a screw with a large round head.
  4. Activate the metal detector app.
  5. Move the screw head close to the back of your phone.
  6. Slowly move the screw vertically until you find the area with the highest reading.
  7. Slowly move the screw horizontally without changing the vertical position. Look for the area with the highest reading.
  8. Move the screw slowly vertically and check if you will be able to find a stronger reading from nearby areas. If not, then the final location of the screw head is the location of the magnetometer.

How to use a stud finder app?

row of timber wall studs, with exposed wood framing, in a home construction background, How To Use A Stud Finder App? [Step By Step Guide]

Now that you have the location of the magnetometer, you can use your phone as a stud finder more accurately. Keep in mind that any nails that your phone finds will be close to the location of the magnetometer.

Here are the steps that you can follow to use your phone as a stud finder.

Choosing The Right App For You

  1. Go to the app store of your phone and search for stud finder apps. Decide whether you want a free version or a paid version. Check the section above about the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you decide.
  2. Download and install the stud finder app of your choice on your phone and install it.

Using The App On Your Wall

  1. Activate your stud finder app and place your phone over your wall.
  2. Slowly move your phone in one direction horizontally and wait until it detects a nail.
  3. Mark the location of the nail. Keep in mind that the most likely location of the nail is directly below the magnetometer of your phone. Since you already know where the magnetometer is on your phone, you can more accurately mark the location of the nail.
  4. Move your phone vertically. Make sure not to change its horizontal position.
  5. Wait until your phone locates another nail. Locating another nail vertically allows you to verify the location of the stud. This helps eliminate any false reading. If you don’t locate another nail vertically from the first nail, then that is likely a false reading. You should keep looking for a nail in a different area.

Are stud finders more accurate than stud finder tools?

Young woman scanning the wall using the app on the phone

Stud finder apps will always be less accurate than an actual stud finder tool—even with the knowledge of the magnetometer’s location.

The reason should be obvious. Your phone is not made for searching studs. No matter how well-made the app is, it will always be dependent on the hardware.

And the magnetometer of your phone is not made to locate studs. It can be made to locate studs, but it is not its specialty.

If you need to locate studs for a serious reason, get yourself a real stud finder. Moreover, if the fastener on your drywall is not ferromagnetic, then your stud finder app will be useless.

Besides, if you think about it, do you really want to rub the back of your phone on the wall? If your phone slips and you drop it on the floor, you’d be damaging your phone, which is way more expensive than a stud finder. Do you really want to take that risk to safe a few bucks?

CRAFTSMAN Stud Finder is available on Amazon through this link.


row of timber wall studs, with exposed wood framing, in a home construction background

You can use a stud finder app the way you would use a regular stud finder tool.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might find the articles below equally enjoyable to read:

Should You Insulate Interior Walls?

Shiplap Vs Drywall: Which Is Right For You?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *