DIY Message Boards
Best method for locating studs when installing drywall

This topic can be found at:

Sep 23, 2013, 07:55 AM
Best method for locating studs when installing drywall
I'm looking for a consensus on the best method for locating/marking stud locations when installing a 4x8 sheet of drywall.
It appears that the pros tend to eyeball it, but I haven't had much luck with that. I'm doing a large basement finishing project and need a method that will allow me to work quickly and accurately (i.e. not miss the studs with my screws).
Sep 23, 2013, 09:56 AM
I always just look in a mirror......(sorry - old carpenter joke. Smile )

When the pros 'just look' what they are seeing is the slight difference in the drywall finish made by the screws and mud over them. If you look at most walls at a sharp angle, especially if the light is good, you can easily see where all the screws are. Wherever there is a screw there is a stud. We also can find the studs by making a hard tapping sound on the wall with a finger - you can hear a different sound when over a stud vs in a hollow area.

You can also use an electric stud finder. These cost under $10 and are reasonably accurate.

For the most part, you only need to find one stud. Whatever method you use to find that first stud then measure 16" in either direction and you'll find another. Once you think you have found a stud, you can confirm it by driving a finish nail right at the top of the base molding. (the small hole can be easily patched with caulk). With a test nail, you can locate the exact center of the stud, then from there measure to find the rest.

Now, I've just re-read your question and is sounds like you are hanging drywall on new, uncovered studs? If so, then it's just a matter of keeping a straight line. First off - ALWAYS hang your drywall so that each piece is 4' tall and 8' wide. Hang the top piece first (assuming the ceiling is already finished). The main reason for hanging like this is so you can stagger your vertical seams, which will make them harder to see when finished. However, this also means that when you hang your top piece, you will still be able to see each stud at the bottom. When hanging the bottom piece, you can reference the screw locations. If you need more help keeping a straight line, just make a light line with your level.

BTW - Another reason to hang the top piece first is so that you can cut the bottom piece if needed for any shorter than normal ceiling height. This puts the uneven cut edge behind the base trim when finished.

Sep 23, 2013, 10:42 AM
I've come to not trust things are in straight lines Wink when we redid the basement from block to block, we settled on the studfinder and making two or three locates. then grabbed a pencil and a 4 foot level and connected them. no more missed studs.

studfinders work... not... on a plaster wall. tapping only gets you close. putting railings on the steps of the folks' house for estate sale purposes required patching a lot of misses. but FHA financing rules mean you have to hit every code bang-on now, and they won't even finance if there is a cracked window pane or chipping paint. believe me, those were some intense weekends fixing up.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?