How to Find a Stud in the Ceiling

How to Find a Stud in the Ceiling 

Looking to hang a chandelier or ceiling lights? This means you need to know how to find a stud in the ceiling! It’s important that when you drill into the ceiling there will actually be something to secure your appliance to. No worries! You don’t need to be a contractor to find ceiling studs. Keep reading to discover foolproof ways to access them all on your own!

No Tech Solutions for How to Find a Stud in the Ceiling

Wondering how to find a stud in the ceiling without electronics? No problem! There are plenty of ways to locate studs without these devices.

A Magnet

Magnets can be used to identify screws in the ceiling. It is best to use a large and strong magnet. Magnets can range anywhere from $15 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so it’s completely up to you how much you spend! Just simply move the magnet around the ceiling until it starts to resist. That’s how you know you’ve found a screw! It’s important to mark its location with a pencil so you don’t lose the spot.


This method requires no technology and one simple material, a pencil! There is just one step: crunch your hand into a fist and knock on the ceiling. Luckily, it is fairly easy to differentiate the sound of knocking on a stud and knocking on a regular ceiling. If you place your ear close to the ceiling and hear an echoing, low sound, keep on knocking! You haven’t reached a stud yet. Once you hear a full thump… bingo! You’ve found your stud! Last but not least, make sure to mark the location of the stud with a pencil so your drilling is accurate.


Once two studs are located, finding the rest is a breeze. Leave your magnets and gadgets behind and opt for a tape measure. Measure the distance between the two known studs, and you now know the exact distance between every single stud! Typically, studs are placed either 16 or 24 inches away from each other.

A Flashlight

While a flashlight is not the most accurate method if all else fails give it a try! If you hold the flashlight against the ceiling so the beam of light illuminates the wall, you will be able to see slight depressions. These depressions are indicators that you’ve found a stud!

A Small Nail

This method can only really be used if the ceiling you are working with is directly underneath an attic. In this case, you would climb up to the attic and look carefully at the floor panels which will reveal where the joists are. To make things even easier, measure the distance between studs at the same time, that way you can determine if your studs are 16 or 24 inches apart. Next, you should lightly hammer a small nail adjacent to the joist into the attic floor. Finally, travel back downstairs and look up at your ceiling. You should see the nail peeking out from the drywall, which indicates your ceiling stud!

How to Find a Stud in the Ceiling With a Tech Savvy Solution

Want to take your stud detecting skills to the next level? Head to your local home improvement store and pick out a gadget. Better yet, order on Amazon and have it delivered directly to your doorstep!

Electronic Stud Finder

Electronic stud finders help you find your joists with ease. They detect changes in the electric field inside the wall and provide you with the density of the wall. Even though every stud finder is a little different, a low-density reading indicates that there is emptiness. A high-density reading indicates you’ve found your stud! The stud finder will beep and a series of bars will pop up on your screen when you are near a stud. The more bars you see, the closer you are to the stud. If the stud finder is directly above the edge of the stud, the screen will display a triangle image. Lastly, make sure to pencil in the location and move the stud finder to locate the opposite side of the stud. Keep in mind that studs are usually a little bit over an inch wide. After both edges are marked off, you’re ready to repeat this process to find the rest of your studs!

Although a stud finder is convenient, there are some drawbacks to this solution. If you have textured ceilings in your house, you may want to opt for the magnetic option to get the best reading. This is because it is difficult to keep the stud finder flat against the ceiling and textured surfaces have unequal density, which may result in an inaccurate reading.

How to Find a Stud in the Ceiling Summarized

There are many different ways to access studs in your ceiling. Whether you opt for the electronic stud finder or to avoid the technology, if you follow this guide you will find your studs in no time! Now you can get to hanging your crystal chandeliers! Good luck!

Written By: Faith Dwyer

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.