Introduction: Hanging Heavy Items on Wall – How to Find Support Studs

About: I am a semi retired, former business and finance professional with a keen interest in DIY.

If you want to place a shelf, heavy mirror, or even large photo or painting frame on your walls you will
need to locate the stud framework inside the wall to support the weight. Simply putting in a screw or
hook makes it likely that at some point the item you hung will pull out of the wall and crash to the floor.

Step 1: Locate the Studs

Locating the studs is very simple if you use an electric stud finder or wall radar tool. Unfortunately,
many people do not have one of those in their home tool box. There is a very simple home DIY method
to locate the studs without resorting to random drillings and trying to knock and decide on where it is
hollow (does not work well at all- it all sounds the same on most well-constructed walls).

Walls in conventional construction have a 2”x4” stud every “16 inches on center”. What this means is
16 inches from the center of one stud support is the center to the next stud. By measuring from the
internal corner of a wall you can locate the center of each stud down the wall with good reliability.

To check for certain simply look for wall plugs or switches. The will always be located on a stud. It is
not recommended you drill into these studs for hanging items however because they will also have an
electrical wire running up and down that stud and a slight miss with the drill bit can be expensive and

Step 2: Anchor Points

Once you believe you have located a stud use a small gauge drill bit (1/8th or smaller works well) to
make a test hole. It is very clear if it is solid behind the wall (a stud) or hollow (in which case after a short
distance the drill will simply slide into nothingness).

For shelves or larger frames and heavier items anchor into at least 2 studs. Use a suitable size screw or
hook (between 1 ½ inches and 2 inches in length) t0 use as anchor points for your hanging. You will then
be able to safely hang heavy mirrors or shelves to beautify your home.