Which Is Better, Electronic or Magnetic Stud Finders?

By Ivan Piltz | Updated 9 November 2022

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If you've ever tried to hang a picture only to find that there's no stud to nail it into, you know the frustration of not having a stud finder. Stud finders are an essential tool for anyone doing any sort of home renovation, whether it's hanging a picture or renovating an entire room. There are two main types of stud finders: electronic and magnetic, but which one is better? 

What are the two types of stud finders?

Before answering which stud finder type is better, we need to discuss how what are the two types and how they work. Here's a quick rundown on the key differences between electronic magnetic stud finders.

Electronic stud finders

Electronic stud finders use radio waves to detect the presence of a stud behind your wall. They are more accurate than magnetic stud finders, but they also tend to be more expensive.

One of the main advantages of electronic stud finders is that they work on all types of walls, including drywall and plaster. They are also able to pinpoint the exact location of the studs, making them a better choice for tasks like hanging heavy items or planning electrical wiring.

Magnetic stud finders

Magnetic stud finders rely on magnets and metal studs to locate the edges of a stud. They are cheaper than electronic models and usually more compact, making them a good choice for DIYers or anyone who needs to do occasional small jobs around their home.

Are electronic or magnetic stud finders better?

At the end of the day electronic stud finders are more accurate than magnetic stud finders, however they cost much more. For example you can pick up a magnetic one for $20 or $30, whereas a good electronic stud finder will set you back closer to $100 (We've written a good guide on the best stud finders here to compare some options).

Further, if you are looking for a stud finder that  can detect both metal and wood studs, then an electronic model is your best bet. However, if you only need to find metal studs, then a magnetic stud finder will do the trick just fine.

So if you're looking for a quick read and are not concerned about the cash, get an electronic stud finder. If you are happy to spend a little bit more time finding the stud manually, get a magnetic one.

Whichever type of stud finder you choose, make sure to read the instructions carefully before use. After all, even the best stud finder won't do you any good if you don't know how to use it properly!