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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    2

    Default Finding Studs in Old Plaster Walls with a Twist

    Wondering if anyone has advice for finding studs on old plaster walls. Our house was built in 1946. The builders used a method of hanging drywall and then coating it with a substantial layer of plaster over the drywall. We do not have the traditional wood or metal lathe as a scaffold for the plaster. We have been told that this is referred to as plaster reinforced drywall. The walls appear to be almost two inches thick.

    Our problem comes when trying to hang anything heavy. Rather than using anchors we would like to hang some heavier shelves directly into the studs. We have tried three different types of modern stud finders to accurately locate the studs with very little luck. This usually ends in drilling holes in the general vicinity until we get lucky enough to find wood. I've additionally tried a strong magnet in the hopes of locating nails behind the studs with little luck as well.

    Maybe we need something even more powerful. Has anyone ever run into a similar problem? Any suggestions on better products or other methods would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    392

    Default Re: Finding Studs in Old Plaster Walls with a Twist

    The correct term for the type of plaster system is called gypsum board base ( ROCK LATH )with a 3/4 inch plaster brown coat and a finish coat total thickness normaly would not exceed 1" MAX.
    You should be able to measure out from a corner 16 inches and find the center of the first stud out from the corner.
    Than 16" OC

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
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    7,762

    Default Re: Finding Studs in Old Plaster Walls with a Twist

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarence View Post
    The correct term for the type of plaster system is called gypsum board base ( ROCK LATH )with a 3/4 inch plaster brown coat and a finish coat total thickness normaly would not exceed 1" MAX.
    You should be able to measure out from a corner 16 inches and find the center of the first stud out from the corner.
    Than 16" OC
    Good answer, except that too often you find walls where the studs are not 16 o.c exactly. Better to drill narrow holes, in a low and not so visible area, and locate the studs this wqy, then just fill the holes.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    2

    Smile Re: Finding Studs in Old Plaster Walls with a Twist

    Thanks for the quick replies to both of you. We have tried the method of measuring 16" OC from the corner with some luck, but not all of the studs are not that predictable. Often the first stud will be about 12" out, followed by another that might be 16" out, and then another at 12". Sadly, this old house doesn't follow too many of the expected protocols!! I guess we'll just have to keep at it. Sad thing about it is that a project that should normally take about 20 minutes always ends up taking hours! Guess we'll trade off the character of our old house for a few inconveniences any day.

    Thanks again for the prompt responses!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    143

    Default Re: Finding Studs in Old Plaster Walls with a Twist

    I am also exasperated by my plaster board walls. I hear you, a hour to find the studs, and twenty minutes for the actual work.

    I just ordered a Diamond Resource 10129-ST Stud Thud Magnetic Stud Finder -- it's a specialized use of rare-earth magnet ($10 plus shipping) from Amazon.com but haven't received it.

    Check back in about 2 weeks.

    Other advice received included knowing that a stud is left or right of an outlet, and from there, try 16" OC, testing with dj1's drilling hole method. Also, try a rare-earth magnet along the baseboard looking for nails; it assumes the carpenter was nailing to studs.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Finding Studs in Old Plaster Walls with a Twist

    I just tried the earth magnet last night. It located very few studs....2 to be exact. What I did then was use an electronic stud finder on "Deep stud" scan to find the stud and see if it matched up with the ones the magnetic one found. I was paranoid so I wanted a double check. Also, our studs were 24" apart. Our place was built in 1908.

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