Finding studs in your wall is an important DIY home decor stepIf you’re unfamiliar with the way homes are built, you might not know that your walls are actually mostly hollow, with vertical wooden structures called studs (pictured above) built in for support.

A lot of home decor objects that are made to hang on the wall, like the wall shelves I recently bought, need to be secured to a stud to prevent falling and pulling out a piece of the wall. So if you’re planning to hang an object, you’ll need to know how to find the studs in your wall.

Just a note, when you tell people you’re having trouble finding studs it’s a good idea to clarify that you mean in your walls. It should come as no surprise that I got a lot of funny looks when I said I needed help finding a stud to hang my wall shelves.

But hopefully this post will keep you from getting put in such awkward situations.

A good starting place for finding studs is an outlet.

Finding studs in your wall is an important DIY home decor stepOutlets are typically attached to the side of a stud, so you can be pretty sure that there will be one either to the left or right of any outlet in your home. The trick is to determine which side it’s on.

One basic technique is the “knock and listen” technique, which consists of knocking on the wall and listening for the stud’s location. As I mentioned before, walls are hollow except for where a stud is, so most spots you knock will produce a hollow sound. When you hear a fuller sound, you’ve likely found a stud.

However, when I tried this method in my apartment walls I had little luck. So here’s another method I found to determine with more accuracy where your studs are located.

Start by grabbing the strongest magnet on your refrigerator.

Finding studs in your wall is an important DIY home decor stepZigzag the magnet above the outlet, covering the areas to the left and right of the outlet. What you’re doing is looking for a nail where the wall was attached to the stud. Keep moving left and right and up and down until you feel your magnet pull.

Finding studs in your wall is an important DIY home decor stepThis picture is slightly blurry as I was taking it left handed, but you can see that the tip of the magnet is pulled against the wall. Grab a pencil and draw and “X” because you’ve found a stud!

Studs are typically 16 inches apart in modern homes, but they may be 24 inches apart. From your X, measure 16 inches to either side and find the next stud using either the knock and listen technique or your magnet. If you can’t find the next stud at 16 inches, try 24 inches instead.

Now you’re ready to have your decorations and be sure that they’re secure on your wall!

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