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Thread: Stud finders not working on hi gloss paint?

  1. #1

    Default Stud finders not working on hi gloss paint?

    I've tested 2 stud finders on the wall I'm working on and neither work. They give errors or think the whole wall is a stud. They do work on other walls though and the only difference is the hi gloss paint. Otherwise both walls are 1/2" drywall. Is the paint too reflective for the sonar?

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member finnegan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005


    I have never noticed. If you have an electrical outlet or switch nearby, a stud will probably be on one side of the box. That may give you a reference point to measure out and find the approximate stud location.

  3. #3
    Engineer chassis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    SE Pennsylvania


    In my experience stud finders are touchy. Try it on a known area where there is a stud. Then move it back and forth to get the light to go on and off. Then apply the same technique to the area in question.

    finnegan made a good suggestion. Also, stud finders will find pipes and electrical wires, which I found out through experience. Drilled through a wall into what I thought would be a stud. Instead, it was a water supply pipe, installed (incorrectly) by the builder tight against the drywall. Caused a geyser of water to shoot across the width of my laundry room to the opposite wall. Had to run downstairs at top speed to shut the water off. Hilarious in retrospect, but wasn't real funny at the time.

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    Most of those rely on inductance change, not sonar. The gloss paint might have a high metals content (old lead-based?).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5


    Yeah i mean i knew the approximate location of the studs but was just surprised to get that result. The paint is latex based over an enamel primer. Anyway, just curious to see why it happened.

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Default studs

    My locator has a "deep scan" setting that might penetrate your surface. It also has metal stud and electric wire settings for special applications.

  7. #7
    DIY Member rburt5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Canton, Ohio


    It might also be heat ducts running up behind your drywall. That threw mine off.


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