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Old 01-15-2011, 02:56 PM   #1
tpolley
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Default how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

how do i find a stud in a plaster wall? My stud finder won't do the job.
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Old 01-15-2011, 02:58 PM   #2
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

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how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?
I'm not sure, but my wife found me in a crowded club...
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Old 01-15-2011, 03:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

Measure 16" on center from a known opening, and then start tapping gently with a hammer. You should hear the difference between striking solid backing and a hollow area. It might be as much as 8" off from the opening, since not all openings happen at the 16" mark. Easy way to know if it is, divide the opening by 8 and that should give you an idea of what I am referring to. If the opening is 32", then it should be easy to find one at the 16" mark. If the opening is 30", then the first stud will be 16" plus or minus 2". It is easier to do than it is to explain. Usually a opening is at the 16" mark on one side, but not necessarily on the other side. Once you think that you have found a stud, using a small nail, try to drive it into the plaster about 6" above the floor. If you have hit the stud, it will be stuck into the wood. If not, then it will penetrate the plaster and not hit wood. If this is an old house with lath and plaster walls, all bets are off. Then it is time to call in an expert..
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Old 01-15-2011, 04:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

I had to find one a few weeks ago to mount a TV. Plaster & lath walls. I just drilled a small hole to the right of where an outlet was mounted. Missed it the first time, but hit it the second.
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Old 01-15-2011, 05:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

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Missed it the first time, but hit it the second.
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Old 01-15-2011, 05:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

it is was a well built home it should be close to 16oc, but i rap the walls with my kunckels and listen for a different sound. i also drill small holes and use a bent hanger to find studs
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Old 01-15-2011, 06:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

If a studfinder does not work I usually take the cover off an outlet and probe for which side the stud is on. Then just measure every 16".
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Old 01-15-2011, 09:45 PM   #8
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

Unless the electrician that wired the house was left handed, MOST outlets will be on the right side of a stud. Find one and the rest should be on 16" centers. There will ALMOST always be a full width stud at every corner, usually you can start from a corner and measure 16 O.C. from the corner.
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Old 01-15-2011, 09:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

Sometimes you can find the studs by looking for Nail holes in the Trim/Baseboard. If you combine this info with the Outlet stud side and a Tape measure it will get you where you want to be.
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Old 01-16-2011, 05:39 AM   #10
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

If it is a plaster and lath wall DO NOT pound on the wall even if you find a stud. Pre-drill before you drive a nail or better yet use a screw. On the old plaster and lath, the plaster in the back that "keys" the plaster onto the lath becomes weak and will fall off. When that happens, the plaster will come loose from the lath
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:41 AM   #11
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

Have you considered using a magnetic stud finder? As cheap as they are, it's worth a try.

http://www.amazon.com/Stanley-47-400.../dp/B0000BYD3K
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Old 01-16-2011, 10:11 AM   #12
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

My suggestion, sledge hammer&pry bar remove all plaster & lath, update wiring whiloe you're at it, then insulate it to modern standards. You'll thank me later when the heat bills come due.
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Old 01-16-2011, 11:26 AM   #13
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

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Originally Posted by Hank McMauser View Post
My suggestion, sledge hammer&pry bar remove all plaster & lath, update wiring whiloe you're at it, then insulate it to modern standards. You'll thank me later when the heat bills come due.
+1 on this. You will have a hard time on older houses if they have horizontal wood lath as well as wire mesh in the plaster over the top of the lath. I gave up at the MIL's house last year and ripped all of the plaster out, re-wired everything up to code with grounded outlets, insulated the walls and put up new sheetrock.

Her house was built in 1931 and the studs were NOT on 16" centers. That became common after 4x8 sheet goods started to be used in order to hit the edges of the 4" sheets. Her house used plaster interior walls, diagonal sub flooring and inset diagonal bracing in the outside walls with lap siding. None of those required 16" C/C on the studs.

Her house must have been built by the three stooges. The wall stud spacing was 18", 20" or 24" depending on the wall you were working on and the studs are full size, rough cut hardwood. You either drill a pilot hole or use a nail gun to put anything into them.
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Old 01-16-2011, 11:32 AM   #14
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

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Her house must have been built by the three stooges. The wall stud spacing was 18", 20" or 24" depending on the wall you were working on and the studs are full size, rough cut hardwood. You either drill a pilot hole or use a nail gun to put anything into them.
Good advice here. +1 on irregular stud spacing. It's more common than you may think.

Scott
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:01 PM   #15
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

I have found in my old shack (crica 1914) that studs are not anywhere you think they should be - and can't be measured out from a corner -- there's no "known" starting spot for 16" OC spacing. So I punch a small hole through the plaster with a small finish nail in spot that's not too noticable near where I need to mount something. Then I use a piece of wire (coathangar or mechanics wire) and couple of 90 bends on one end. Put it though the hole and then and twist around till I "feel" the stud. Note the angle of the ouside 90 bend as a way to reference where the other end of the wire is when I pull it back out of the wall.
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Old 01-17-2011, 04:11 PM   #16
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Default Re: how do i find a stud in a plaster wall?

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I have found in my old shack (crica 1914) that studs are not anywhere you think they should be - and can't be measured out from a corner -- there's no "known" starting spot for 16" OC spacing. So I punch a small hole through the plaster with a small finish nail in spot that's not too noticable near where I need to mount something. Then I use a piece of wire (coathangar or mechanics wire) and couple of 90 bends on one end. Put it though the hole and then and twist around till I "feel" the stud. Note the angle of the ouside 90 bend as a way to reference where the other end of the wire is when I pull it back out of the wall.
That is a good trick!
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