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Quick Way to Find Studs

Need to mark a lot of studs for trim installation? Electronic stud finders will work, but they can be frustrating to use, and even the best ones require time to recalibrate and scan. I use electronic stud finders to accurately pinpoint studs for targeted jobs like hanging shelves or pictures. When I need to mark studs all over a room, however, I’ve found it’s quicker to use a magnet.

Here’s my method. Required supplies: Painter’s tape, stud magnet, framing square. First step is to tear off several swatches of painter’s tape and stick them somewhere within easy reach. I use tape to mark the studs because it leaves no marks on the wall.

I use Frog Tape to mark the studs.

Next, slide the stud magnet over the wall beneath the area where you want to install your crown molding or trim. You will feel the high-powered magnet tug your hand as it passes over a metal drywall screw, which indicates stud location. Once you’ve found the stud, leave the magnet stuck to it as an indicator.

Slide the magnet over the wall in search of a metal drywall screw.

Align the long arm of the framing square with the magnet and abut the short arm against the ceiling. Place a tab of tape to mark the stud along the long arm of the square, just an inch or two below the trim location. Repeat the steps for all the studs, sliding the magnet over the wall roughly 14-1/2 inches left or right from the stud you already located.

Align the framing square with the magnet and mark the stud with tape.

When it’s time to fasten the trim, position it against the wall and ceiling and nail it at the stud locations above the tape. Remove the tape when you’re finished for a blemish-free wall.

This method can work for base molding too–just invert the framing square so the short arm lines the floor and mark the studs a few inches above the trim height.

I’ve had my stud magnet for many, many years. It’s a very basic model but does the trick.

Our friends at Calculate Industries, however, now offer a modernized version for only $11.95. It’s called the StudMark , and it has some handy extra features. Move the StudMark across the wall in a Z pattern, and its two powerful rare-earth magnets will snap to the drywall nail or screw head, leaving your hands free.

Once in place, there are two removable magnetic markers that can be used to identify and mark a stud while the user moves on to locate and mark up to three studs at one time. Or, a pencil mark can be made in the divot located in the tip of the StudMark. Check out the video below, and learn more at

M. Weber

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