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My wife is having me hang some heavy curtains on a textured wall. Of course, the first thing I did was to get out my stud finder - specifically, my Zircon HD55. I felt I was getting strange results when the finder went over the bumps of the texture, so I tried to look for smooth parts of the texture. When I did so, I got results that seemed less erratic, but still not right. As I searched for a solution, I found a description of the kinds of behavior I'm seeing in this post:

[the] studs seemed to be upto [sic] a foot wide and at irregular spacings [sic]

I didn't always get studs a foot wide - some seemed to show up as the normal "2-side" of a 2x4. However, even in these cases, the approximately two-inch widths found by the stud finder often did not line up. My question is whether this could be due to the stud finder (as was assumed by the OP in the linked DIY-SE post and as many people assumed in other stud-finder-related questions), or if it's likely due to the texture on the wall. I've thought that I might just put some cardboard between the texture and the stud-finder, but if it sounds like the problem is due to the stud finder, I don't want to go to the trouble and awkwardness of doing that.

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I haven't tried it on a textured wall, but have similar issues with uneven plaster and lath. Try maintaining a steady speed and pressure on the stud finder as you sweep across the wall. (I'm much more steady with my right hand than my left.) Try going both directions - left to right, and right to left - at several different heights. Most walls have light switch or outlet boxes attached to studs. Once you find a stud, try searching 16" or 24" to the side. (Most walls in the US are framed 16" on center.) It helps to put a strip of painter's tape 8-12" long where you think a stud is, then make repeated passes back and forth, marking the edges each time with a pencil. With some practice (and a bit of luck) you'll find your marks in clusters on each stud edge. Once you find a couple studs on that wall you can measure and put another piece of tape to use as a starting point for finding others.

  • Thanks. I like the approach of looking for clusters on each stud edge. I'd call this the "statistical approach". I also appreciate that you gave several suggestions for how to use the stud-finder, but also talked about the normal separation for studs. This is a great, complete, and very useful answer. – bballdave025 May 16 at 18:51

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