I have a stud finder that "sees" through drywall. However, how does one know what is being reported is a stud and not say a pipe running through the wall? I use standard size spacing of 16" and electrical outlets to make certain it is a true stud. Are there other ways to make certain before drilling?


3 Answers 3


I have some version of electronic studfinder.

When I want to know where a stud really is, I use a strong magnet to look for screws (or nails in old drywall) holding the drywall to the stud. Find several and draw a line to avoid being thrown off by one poorly placed screw.

Pipes should not have screws into them ;^)


My 99% confidence approach is to simply find more studs. If you see the pattern, including any around doors and windows, you can be reasonably sure you have lumber and not pipes.

Once you do, cross-reference with baseboard nails, etc., and then drill slowly. You can tell a lot by feel once you get through the drywall.

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Pipes should not be in contact with the drywall/lath, and thus should not affect the vibration that electronic stylus finders rely upon. Ditto wires.

The other answers, and comments, give other answers/approaches/safety nets.

Or you can spend more and get an electronic stud-finder that uses multiple approaches so it can report pipes and wires.

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