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Do Stud Finders Work Through Wood? (Quick Answers)

While building a house, keeping some basic knowledge about the walls, what’s used in them, how many layers are there and the devices used for it are crucial. One of them is the knowledge of walls and studs since they are crucial in the future.

Walls usually have three components: the structural elements (for example, the studs,) the insulations (such as fiberglass, or mineral wool,) and the surface (the drywall or paneling.)

The reason behind the importance of a wall’s knowledge is that when in the future, one has to install fasteners or hangers on the wall, especially for heavy decorations, mirrors, or televisions, one needs to know where the studs are. 

The wall, which is usually sheetrock, isn’t always strong enough to support heavy-weight hangings. 

Therefore, to support those, studs are installed and if one doesn’t use studs for hangings, it is quite possible for the fasteners or brackets that hold the decorations or the television on the wall might come off and cause property damage. 

Stud finders are usually used to detect studs installed behind the surface wall for avoiding unnecessary future household damage. Now, let us discuss whether or not stud finders work through wood and also get to know some interesting facts related to it. 

Stud finders work through wood

Stud finders can detect studs through the wood because they’re designed to locate studs through surfaces that are bad conductors of electricity. Materials like wood are very poor conductors of electricity, and stud finders are made relying on the particular characteristics of insulators.

A stud finder is a device–handheld device–that’s used to locate the framing stud behind the final walling, which usually tends to be drywall, wood planks, veneer plaster, brick, concrete blocks, plywood, and so on. 

If scrutinized, it is obvious that most of these materials are what we call insulators. 

Insulators are materials that don’t conduct electricity, that is, they don’t affect electronic or magnetic force fields. Some examples of insulators include glass, wood, wax, silicon, etcetera. 

Stud finders are made based on the characteristics of both the final wall and the studs. They’re mainly divided into two categories: (a) Magnetic Stud Detectors, and (b) Electric Stud Finders. 

Since magnetic stud finders rely solely on the characteristics of the materials used on the wall (the insulators) and the nails or screws on the studs (the metals) their readings aren’t always accurate, as they detect any metal, be it nails or screws or anything else.

But electric stud finders use the density of the wall to detect the studs. Since the density of the place where studs are present is different than where the studs aren’t present, the dielectric readings are different. 

That’s how these devices find the studs and their readings are more accurate than a magnetic stud detector.

When wooden planks or any material that has characteristics shared with wood is used as a final wall, the studs present behind it are easily detected since wood is an insulator and studs are metallic.

Do stud finders work through plywood?

Yes, stud finders work through the plywood. Plywoods are made of gluing thin sheets of softwood (like pine, or redwood,) or hardwood (like mahogany, or ash,) or a combination of both. 

All the mentioned materials used in making plywood are insulators, so they don’t conduct electricity. The reason is that the atoms inside insulators are packed very tightly, which restricts them from moving freely inside the insulator, as a result, they don’t show magnetic properties. 

Studs are made of metal, hence they’re the best conductors of electricity, and can be detected via their electric or magnetic properties. This is what lets the stud finder detect the framing studs.

How do stud finders work through wood?

Wood is an insulator, and if it’s placed as a final wall on the sheetrock containing the studs, the stud finders work in two ways.

Magnetic stud finders detect the metals–since metal shows magnetic properties–since they’re the nails or screws are driven into the studs. 

The electric stud finders find out the density changes in the sheet. Since the density of one place is completely different from another place where the stud is present, the different dielectric readings for the different scenarios let one detect the area where the stud is present. 

How to find studs in wood paneling?

There are three ways one can find the location of a stud on the wood paneling: firstly, driving a nail on the panel until the stud is found, second, using a magnetic stud detector, or using an electric stud finder. However, the last option is the one that gives the most accurate results.

Locating the studs without a stud detector: 

Sometimes, the studs aren’t hard to find without using any detector, in those cases, the places are marked and normally, another stud can be found within a 16-inches of the first stud. 

This is the standard distance of placing studs in contemporary houses. Houses that are old might be exceptions.

Locating studs through the position of outlets: 

Another way one can find studs is by locating outlets on the wall because there’s a 99% chance that studs are present just around the outlets. Although in old homes, that might not always work.

Locating studs using a detector: 

Though one can find studs without using a detector, having a detector in one’s reach makes the work easier and more accurate. 

Additionally, the studs are found out simply by predicting the supposed position (steps 1 & 2) of it and then placed directly on top of it, before moving the detector slowly as the holder sees right. 

When the device beeps and the lights go off, it means there’s a stud there.

Does a stud finder detect wood?

Yes, an electric stud finder can detect wood. Detecting a material behind the final wall depends on the working procedure of the machine. Magnetic stud detectors work through the insulator-metal theory. 

These finders discard anything that doesn’t conduct electricity strongly and find out anything that conducts electricity and in the case of walls, that’s what nails and screws do since they’re metals and they’re driven into the studs. 

This is the reason why magnetic stud detectors cannot detect wood. 

Moreover, the reason electric stud finders can detect wood is that they work on the density principle, that is, they detect the difference in the density of different places in the wall and give a reading according to it.

How does a stud finder find wood studs?

To find a stud that is made of insulating materials, an electric stud finder is used rather than a magnetic stud detector. 

Since magnetic stud detectors beep the moment it finds a metal fastener that’s usually present in a stud and gets attracted to it, this particular finder has practically no use here. 

Furthermore, an electric stud finder on the other hand detects the dielectric changes in a wall and gives that reading

Since the dielectric reading of an area where any stud is present is different from another area where there’s no stud, the device detects that change regardless of the characteristics of the material. 

Therefore, to find a wooden stud, an electric stud finder can be used which is a cheaper option than a modern stud finder that uses radar technology–making these devices to be expensive– to detect studs, pipes, and even lines behind drywall or paneling. 

Final Thoughts

Stud finders work through wood and even detect wood studs. But both the scenarios use different devices (both stud finders–magnetic and electric–can be used in one case and only the electric can be used in the other) for the scenarios. That’s because the working procedure of the detectors varies.