Background Condo/Apt building (28? floors) Built 1993 Seattle, WA Wall facing neighbor's wall

Need to drill into stud to mount Murphy bed.

I drilled into same area that were used for the old Murphy bed (3" screws minus 3/4" from thickness of bed frame), but hit METAL

Metal runs vertical floor to ceiling Runs ~16" apart horizontally Tried about 5 spots - all hit metal

Originally, I use the old school finger tap method that always worked in the past, but then hit metal 2x

Bought magnet stud finder and confirmed using that it runs vertical

Also bought Zircon e50 (http://smile.amazon.com/Zircon-StudSensor-e50-Electronic-Finder/dp/B002R5AVVY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454125433&sr=8-2&keywords=Zircon+StudSensor+e50+Electronic+Stud+Finder) that supposedly detects electrical outlet. Tested it around plug and it did detect from there. No electrical warning where I drilled, so I used a small bit and drilled through, hoping it was a plate over wood. Nope, drilled through to emptiness.

Zircon stud finder suggests stud is about 4" wide, with the magnetic stud finder sticking right in the middle. Interestingly, magnetic stud finder is not sticking to where I drilled into metal.

So, any ideas?

Metal studs? Pipes (nothing leaking AFAIK - liquid or gas)?

Sorry if this is a repeated question. I did search but didn't find an exact match to this question.

Thank you for your time and advice! (I REALLY don't want the murphy bed slamming shut on me, esp if "with a guest"!)


  • Were those 5 spots up-and-down, side-to-side, or on a diagonal? Jan 30, 2016 at 4:14
  • I have a stud finder of the same brand, slightly different model. It starts detecting about an inch from either side of my studs, making them appear to be 4" wide. They aren't (other side of one wall is open so I can see the studs), its just not very accurate.
    – Grant
    Jan 30, 2016 at 4:36
  • @ThreePhseEel up/down. And I tried it just about 6 feet from the ground and about 2 and 3 and 4 feet (estimate) all in a vertical up/down line in line with where the old screws were.
    – Hank
    Jan 30, 2016 at 5:00
  • @ Grant Yeah, I never really trust electric stud finders. I really got this for its advertised ability to detect electrical flow. I tried drilling in line (vertically) where the magnet stuck to (I am aware that the magnet is really finding the sheet rock nails) to go between the nails, and I also tried about 1/2 inche offset to the left and right. Metal!
    – Hank
    Jan 30, 2016 at 5:05
  • 1
    Strongly suggest you make a small exploratory hole (6x6 would be enough) to get a real look at what you've got. I suspect metal studs, but you'd want to research whether what you've got is adequate for your bed. Jan 30, 2016 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


Quick version: You have metal studs. Install tips below.

Long version: This is a good question with a lot of detailed information; kudos. Perhaps I am missing something, but the information provided leads to a clear conclusion IMHO. A building that tall built in the 90s in the US will have metal studs (99%+ chance?), so what you're finding matches expectations.

To be safe, go ahead and use that stud finder or your knuckle to confirm you have 16" OC (on-center) studs all the way across the wall that line up with the original 3. If so, then it's pretty clear... metal studs, you have!

If you want to be really safe, or just cover your butt, ask the building super or maintenance person to stop by sometime. A building that big almost certainly has someone who stops by daily or is maybe full-time; just find a time to say "hey, I'll be home 3-6pm today... could you stop by when you have a sec?" They're usually happy to help. Ask if they know the building has metal studs, and it wouldn't hurt to ask their advice for install. If something goes horribly wrong later, at least you asked the pros.

Next, yes, use toggle bolts. 5/8" drywall and metal studs aren't designed to hold much weight, so use one toggle for every 50-100 pounds of weight to be safe. There are lots of posts on this site about doing that, but here's a good one: If my wall has metal studs, is it better to anchor heavy objects through just drywall or also through the studs?

Depending on how your bed is designed, a plywood backer board might be wise, e.g. Can metal studs support a 64" plasma TV on a swiveling mount? Most likely, I think, this will be unnecessary because your bed will already be designed to spread the load evenly across the wall. Post pictures (perhaps in another question) if you aren't sure.

Finally, keep in mind that the load you're attaching will be moving a lot, unlike a TV or even a bookcase, so make sure the bolts are snug and don't allow the back of the bed to jiggle at all; err on the side of caution and put a few more toggles in than the 200-360# limit suggests in those links above. 1/2" holes are easy to patch and paint later.

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