I'm going to install a small loft platform above the stairs in this picture. stairs i'll install above

The most secure way would be to drill into the studs behind the paneling here, but i'm not sure about the wiring thats going into the walls here. Is it safe to drill into one or both of these walls? Do people have guesses as to where this wire is going and how to avoid it? wires up close

Also: I think i'll be able to find studs in this wall by measuring 16" intervals from a nearby door frame (i'm also planning on getting a stud finder to check, though the wood paneling may obscure this somewhat)

I could add legs to the platform that reach all the way to the steps below, but it seems like this wouldn't be as stable. The longer of the legs would be ~10' long.

Thanks for the sanity check. Thoughts?

  • Some stud finders have a circuit warning they can detect the electrical field on the wires in the wall. If the sheeting and siding are two thick check the walls inside to locate the wires. If there are outlets on the walls inside there will probably be a horizontal wire run within 18" of the floor.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 22, 2016 at 14:34

3 Answers 3


The wood will be nailed to the studs. A strong magnet will find the nails if your eyes can't manage that due to paint. A line of nails indicates a stud. This is far more reliable than most studfinders on a board wall.

If the wiring is to done to code, screws 2" long should be safe, so long as you stop drilling if you hit metal. Wiring is supposed to be at least 1-1/2" from the face of the stud or protected by a steel plate. Add the thickness of the boards over and 2" screws should be safe. If someone installed wiring improperly, that might not be true, and that is an unknowable unknown.

The wire in the conduit is 90+% likely running between studs to the light switch seen in the first picture. That would put it at low odds of being run through the studs horizontally.

  • Wires through bored holes are only required to be 1-1/4" from the face of the board, less than 1-1/4" requires 1/16" thick steel plate for protection. this has been the code for as long as I can remember. 2014 NEC 300.4.A1 & A2 . Running parallel to the framing stapled is also 1-1/4" 300.4.D.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 22, 2016 at 13:46

If we get to guess, I'd say the wire is somewhere in the first stud bay on the right-hand wall (as you're going down the stairs). A stud scanner with a 'deep scan' mode might give you a sense of where it is. (And it might not extend above the conduit height.) Look outside to make sure there's no coach light on the exterior wall above the door.

As for studs, you'll certainly find some in the corner. 16" is a good guess only when you've found others in an set. Outlets and switches almost always have a stud on one side, so that might help with the measuring.

I doubt you'd crowd the stairwell with a low platform, but be aware that residential code in the US usually requires at least 6'-8" headroom from the nose of a tread to the bottom of a platform.

  • First - find out where the electrical wire goes. It appears to go inside, but without pictures of the inside, no one can say for sure. Deal with this first.
  • 2nd - pull the siding where you intend to attach the platform to. If plywood is behind it, pull that also. Don't rely on a stud finder and never assume the studs are 16 inches on center. Builders make mistakes or cut corners all the time.
  • 3rd - I'd build it like any other deck platform. Cut and screw face boards into each wall and each stud. Use joists hangers on the right wall and screw the floor joists into the face board on the left side. Make sure these are 16 inches on center. Look up local code for dimensions of floor joists needed for the weight you intend to put on it. You might be able to get away with 2x6s but if you intend to have a party on it, 2x8 or 2x10 might be better - though - the span appears to be < 4 feet wide so 2x6 if I remember correctly might be sufficient.
  • Cover with plywood or other appropriate outdoor deck material.
  • Repair siding material around the new platform

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