How to Find Studs Behind Stucco

If you’re planning to hang heavy objects such as shelves, cabinets, or artwork on your stucco walls, finding the studs is essential. Studs are vertical framing members in a wall that provide sturdy support for mounting items securely. However, locating studs behind stucco can be quite challenging due to the nature of the material and the lack of visible clues. In this article, we’ll explore various techniques and methods to help you find studs behind stucco walls effectively.

Understanding Stucco Walls

Stucco walls are a popular choice for exterior finishes due to their durability and aesthetic appeal. They consist of a mixture of cement, sand, and water applied over a wire or wood lath. Stucco creates a solid and textured surface, which makes finding the underlying studs more difficult compared to other wall materials like drywall.

Why Finding Studs Behind Stucco is Challenging

Unlike drywall, stucco doesn’t offer an obvious change in sound or texture when you knock on it to locate studs. Additionally, stucco walls are thicker, which can interfere with the accuracy of some stud-finding tools. As a result, you’ll need to employ alternative methods and be patient in your approach.

Tools and Equipment Needed

Before you begin, gather the necessary tools and equipment to ensure a successful stud-finding process. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Stud finder (preferably an electronic one with deep-scanning capabilities)
  • Painter’s tape or masking tape
  • Pencil or marker
  • Power drill with a small drill bit
  • Inspection camera (optional but helpful)

Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Studs Behind Stucco

5.1. Preparing the Work Area

Clear the area you’ll be working in by removing any furniture, artwork, or decorations from the wall. This will give you ample space to maneuver and avoid any potential obstacles while finding the studs.

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5.2. Using a Stud Finder

Start by using a stud finder specifically designed for stucco walls. Choose a stud finder with deep-scanning capabilities to penetrate the thick stucco surface. Move the stud finder horizontally along the wall, and it will indicate when it detects a stud.

5.3. Tapping and Listening for Hollow Spots

In the absence of a stud finder, you can use a tapping method to identify hollow spots on the wall. A stud typically produces a dull sound when tapped, while a hollow area will sound more hollow or echoey.

5.4. Drilling Pilot Holes

If you’re uncertain about the stud’s location, you can drill small pilot holes at intervals along the wall. Be sure to use a small drill bit to avoid making large visible holes in the stucco. Once you hit a stud, you’ll feel increased resistance.

5.5. Using an Inspection Camera

An inspection camera with a flexible probe can be incredibly helpful in visually confirming the presence of studs. Insert the camera through a small hole and maneuver it to get a clear view of the stud’s position.

5.6. Measuring from Known Fixtures

Measure the distance from known fixtures, such as electrical outlets or light switches, to estimate the position of adjacent studs. Studs are typically spaced at standard intervals, usually 16 or 24 inches apart.

5.7. Hiring a Professional

If all else fails, or if you’re uncomfortable with DIY methods, consider hiring a professional handyman or contractor. They have experience in locating studs behind stucco walls and can ensure precise and accurate results.

Tips for Accurate Stud Detection

6.1. Being Patient and Methodical

Finding studs behind stucco requires patience and a methodical approach. Take your time and avoid rushing through the process to ensure accurate results.

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6.2. Making Use of Multiple Methods

Use a combination of techniques, such as stud finders, tapping, and measuring from known fixtures, to cross-verify and enhance the accuracy of your findings.

6.3. Marking the Stud Locations

Once you’ve located the studs, mark their positions with painter’s tape or masking tape. This will serve as a guide when you’re ready to hang your items.

6.4. Verifying Stud Placement

Before mounting anything on the stucco wall, double-check the stud positions by gently tapping on the marked areas to confirm their solidity.


Finding studs behind stucco walls may seem like a daunting task, but with the right techniques and tools, it becomes manageable. Take the time to prepare, use appropriate tools, and employ different methods to ensure accuracy. Once you’ve located the studs, you can confidently hang your items, knowing they are securely anchored. So, go ahead and tackle your stucco wall with confidence!

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