Help: Can't find a stud in drywall ceiling or wall - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 08:10 AM - Thread Starter
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I need a recommendation. I recently moved into an apartment and I have mount both my TV and projector screen to walls of the apartment by using a stud finder and mounting them directly to the studs.

Next comes the projector, but both the wall and the ceiling baffle my stud finder as it finds no studs. I have tried many times and it just won't find any. This wall is a shared wall with the next apartment. I have read that sometimes drywall will have spacers between the wood studs and the drywall and that this can keep a stud finder from finding a stud. The stud finder I have is a pretty cheap one, a black and decker one that came with a tool kit.

I have heard of using a very skinny nail to poke around for studs, but I would like to avoid that if possible.

Any suggestions for how to find the studs so that I can mount my projector correctly? How much "spacing" is there usually for the drywall? My bolts are only 2 inches long, so will I need to get longer ones?

Thank you in advance!

(My projector = Epson 8100, Mount = NPL from mountdirect)

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post #2 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 09:03 AM
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Wall studs are typically 16" on center. Start in a corner and measure out in the direction toward the area of the wall you want to mount your device. Once you think you are on or near a stud get a hammer and a finish nail and do some light investigation. If you are around the stud it should be easy to tell.
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post #3 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 09:05 AM
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It may also be possible especially if your apartment building was an old convert that the studs are metal, in which case you need a magentic finder instead
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post #4 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 12:09 PM
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If it's a typical apartment, walls separating you from the outside, the hall, and other apartments not have studs as they'll be concrete. I am not certain about the ceiling, but chance are it is also concrete, to reduce the noise you hear from the people above you.
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post #5 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 12:24 PM
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So as not to make any more holes in your wall. Try the hammer test. Start in one corner of the room. Gently tap on the wall with a hammer as you move across it. Once you are approaching or hit a stud, wood or metal, the sound of the hammer tapping on the wall will change. As you move father away it will change back. You should be able to closely pinpoint the stud.
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post #6 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help, all.

The walls are hollow sounding, so I know its not concrete. I also know how far apart the studs are/should be. It is a brand new complex, so it is not metal studs. I've also used other wooden studs on other walls of my apartment.

My main concern is the "spacers" between the drywall and studs. I want to know how wide a standard spacing would be. I am thinking I will need to get longer bolts than the 2" ones provided to me.

Will a more expensive/advanced stud finder be able to locate a stud that is behind an inch or two of drywall/spacer?

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post #7 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 01:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wojcikc3 View Post

Thanks for the help, all.

The walls are hollow sounding, so I know its not concrete. I also know how far apart the studs are/should be. It is a brand new complex, so it is not metal studs. I've also used other wooden studs on other walls of my apartment.

My main concern is the "spacers" between the drywall and studs. I want to know how wide a standard spacing would be. I am thinking I will need to get longer bolts than the 2" ones provided to me.

Will a more expensive/advanced stud finder be able to locate a stud that is behind an inch or two of drywall/spacer?

Spacers?

Drywall is screwed onto the stud. If you're unsure of where the stud is, drill some holes around the area it makes sense the stud should be, you'll know when you hit it. Pick up some spackling or joint compound to fill the holes you didn't need and touch up the paint.

Aaron Ledger - Senior Design Engineer, Ceton Corp.
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post #8 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
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There has to be spacers or another anomaly of some sort as my stud finder does not recognize that there are any studs on that wall/ceiling at all, whereas it works fine for the internal walls.

Is it possible that the drywall on the outer wall/ceiling is just too thick for the stud finder to read the studs?

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post #9 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wojcikc3 View Post

There has to be spacers or another anomaly of some sort as my stud finder does not recognize that there are any studs on that wall/ceiling at all, whereas it works fine for the internal walls.

Is it possible that the drywall on the outer wall/ceiling is just too thick for the stud finder to read the studs?

Drywall comes in standard sizes of 1/2" and 5/8". It is screwed directly into studs in traditional construction. Perhaps you are running you stud finder parallel to the studs, in which case you'll never hit them. Perhaps the stud finder is of marginal quality or the batteries are low. Maybe you can try another area on your wall to find one and then measure out 16" for each stud, drill a hole and test.

Another idea is to locate an electrical outlet/fixture. It is highly likely that this is attached to a stud unless it is a cutin box. Use that as a reference.

Aaron Ledger - Senior Design Engineer, Ceton Corp.
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post #10 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 07:44 PM
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Don't know about your area, but where I live new commercial construction (including apartments) is usually metal studs.
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post #11 of 19 Old 04-13-2010, 08:47 PM
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It may not be concrete walls, but they could be cinder block walls for the outer walls, which are hollow. I am not sure if they fill them or not during construction. You could check by using a skinny nail to see if you can nail it all the way in in a discrete spot. Tool Time Tip of the Day: You can fill the hole in with toothpaste instead of traditional compound, which you probably won't have on hand.

Another way to check, similar to the hammer test, is if you have an electric razor, run it along the wall. The sound it makes will change when you go over a stud compared to the space between the studs. If the sound doesn't change, chances are it is solid behind the drywall.
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post #12 of 19 Old 04-14-2010, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swoon! View Post

Drywall comes in standard sizes of 1/2" and 5/8". It is screwed directly into studs in traditional construction. Perhaps you are running you stud finder parallel to the studs, in which case you'll never hit them. Perhaps the stud finder is of marginal quality or the batteries are low. Maybe you can try another area on your wall to find one and then measure out 16" for each stud, drill a hole and test.

Another idea is to locate an electrical outlet/fixture. It is highly likely that this is attached to a stud unless it is a cutin box. Use that as a reference.

This is a good way to find a starting point for sure. Since most new construction would use a new work box, it will very likely be attached to a stud.

Or depending on the quality of the paint, drywall mud, etc you may be able to use a flashlight at an angle to find a screw head protruding slightly. That will tell you where a stud is as well.
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post #13 of 19 Old 04-14-2010, 01:22 PM
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New construction around here for everything but houses is always metal frame. Why not ask the landlord?
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post #14 of 19 Old 04-14-2010, 01:24 PM
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Also consider that the wall may well have more than one layer of drywall on each side. THere are stud finders that have more power and can "see" through more material that will work.

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post #15 of 19 Old 04-14-2010, 02:17 PM
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I couldn't find a stud in the ceiling since it has a design and I just used drywall anchors to mount my projector. The ones I grabbed from lowes support like 80 lbs each. I used 3 to mount my 8100pro (19lbs but HUGE!) and don't have any problems.

I also used 4 of the ones that you drill a hole then the metal parts spring open on a kids swing hanging from the ceiling. It supports me and a friend 300lbs.
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post #16 of 19 Old 04-14-2010, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee L View Post

Also consider that the wall may well have more than one layer of drywall on each side. THere are stud finders that have more power and can "see" through more material that will work.

+1 a lot of walls in apartments with joining walls might have 2 sheets of drywall.
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post #17 of 19 Old 04-14-2010, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinm0424 View Post

I couldn't find a stud in the ceiling since it has a design and I just used drywall anchors to mount my projector. The ones I grabbed from lowes support like 80 lbs each. I used 3 to mount my 8100pro (19lbs but HUGE!) and don't have any problems.

I also used 4 of the ones that you drill a hole then the metal parts spring open on a kids swing hanging from the ceiling. It supports me and a friend 300lbs.

Toggle Bolts are what they are called. They are quite strong and used often for heavy duty applications.

Aaron Ledger - Senior Design Engineer, Ceton Corp.
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post #18 of 19 Old 04-14-2010, 02:23 PM
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Find an electrical outlet on the wall in question. Remove the cover and you should be able to peek past the sheetrock to see if they use wood studs or metal.

Also, you should be able to determine which side of the box the stud is on. Go 16" from that in either direction to find the next studs. If you use a light switch, they often are not going to be attached to a stud that is 16" away from the next one. Studs are almost always 16" apart unless they are next to a door or window, in which case they will have sometimes put studs closer.

You can also hit the wall with your hand and move laterally and listen for the change in sound to verify you are getting closer to or further away from a stud.

For ceilings, they are not always on 16" - usually they are at 24" if you are on the top floor or they can be other distances depending on the trusses and the load they have to support.

Hope this helps.


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post #19 of 19 Old 04-18-2010, 10:41 AM
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I recently finished a paint/wet plaster repair project in my 60+ year old house which has studs at irregular spacing in places. The area I was working on also has some places where the wall surface to the stud (depth) is larger than usual.

I ended up going to Sears and getting a Pro Wall Scanner Multifunction Wall Scanner for about $60. It scans for studs, metal, and AC. Using it was a bit of a hassle and it "found" one phantom stud. Also I found the electric cable that was in my work area. It did what I needed. YMMV.

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