Posts Tagged ‘Drywall’

If you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware of the IKEA furniture recall. However, as mentioned in my previous blog, “What Everyone Should Know About the IKEA Furniture Recall,” the safety considerations and implications are not specific to IKEA brand furniture, or to furniture itself. Below are steps individuals can take to ensure that their furniture, and any heavy objects for that matter, are securely fastened to the wall.

Tip Over Restraint Kits

For the IKEA furniture recall, a colleague of mine mentioned that she voluntarily participated in the recall by requesting several safety kits from IKEA. I asked if I could examine the Secure It Safety Kits she received. The furniture models you own will determine which kits to request. My colleague received Kits R1 and R2.

Each IKEA kit includes instructions and diagrams for three kinds of wall materials:

  • Drywall or plaster with available wood stud wood-stud_opt



  • drywall-no-studDrywall without available wood stud



  • masonry_optMasonry



Page 2 of the safety kit’s instructions manual further illustrates four necessary tools for the job: a Phillips head screwdriver, cordless drill, 5/8” (8 mm) drill bit, and a 1/8” (3 mm) drill bit.


If you ask us, the fifth item should be a Zircon stud finder!

Considerations Before Fastening

Fastening your heavy object to a wood stud with a screw is ideal. However, if your dresser needs to be fastened to the wall and there is no wood stud, you can either move the dresser a few inches to where a stud is or you can use a drywall anchor to fasten into the hollow wall.

Having a Zircon stud finder will help you determine which fastener to use by determining whether a stud is present or not.

To fasten your heavy object to concrete or masonry walls, and to avoid rebar and other metal such as electrical conduit that may be embedded in your wall, you’ll need a Zircon tool with Metal Scan mode.

The IKEA safety kit instructions mention that if you have any questions, customers should consult their local hardware store. Fortunately, almost every hardware store and home improvement center in the U.S. can also explain the benefits of a Zircon stud finder and recommend the model that’s right for you.

If you need assistance during your fastening project or have questions related to which model is right for you, please don’t procrastinate! Call our Zircon Tool Pro experts at 1-800-245-9265, Mon – Fri, 8AM – 5PM PST. Take Chairman Kaye’s advice, please act immediately!


Trying to determine the best use of your tool and not sure who or how to ask? After many decades of experience in working with pro users, I’ve consolidated some common FAQ’s that should help pros and DIYers alike get the most from their stud finder. These troubleshooting tips are designed to save you time, money, and headaches.

Top 5 Stud Finder Troubleshooting Tips

1) Check Your Battery. If your stud finder worked previously, but no longer seems to work, about 9 times out of 10, the problem is a weak battery. You may swear that the battery is still good, but it’s not.  Is the battery new from the store or new from the drawer?  Many people don’t realize batteries are no longer functional after their expiration date, even if they have never been used and that 9V batteries do not hold their charge as well as other battery types.

Each of these batteries has a printed expiration date, but they are all in different locations on the battery.

Each of these batteries has a printed expiration date, but they are all in different locations on the battery.

Many batteries have an expiration date printed on them; however, those dates are often an estimate, as batteries can often wear out earlier due to extreme hot or cold. One recent customer insisted his battery was good because the battery could still open his garage door, and “those garage doors are heavy!” Haha. Compared to garage doors and many other devices, stud finders require a very strong battery. When customers realize that the battery really is the problem, they are usually relieved that it was such a simple solution, and that their stud finder still works! You can find more battery tips by visiting the Zircon in the Real World blog, How is Your Battery?

2) Place First, then Scan. Put the tool up against the wall first, then press and hold the button to start scanning. Stud finders work by measuring the density behind the wall. The density over the stud is greater than the area away from the stud. Your stud finder automatically calibrates to your wall as soon as you turn it on.  If you mistakenly press the calibration button before the stud finder is placed on the wall, the stud finder will calibrate to the density of thin air instead of calibrating to your wall.

The Zircon® MultiScanner® i520 is an example of a center finding tool.

The Zircon® MultiScanner® i520 is an example of a center finding tool.

3) Are You on the Edge or on the Center? Determine if your stud finder is an ‘edge finder’ or a ‘center finder.’ A Zircon center finder will indicate both edges and the center of the stud. With an edge finder, the user must mark both edges of the stud to determine the center.  A common mistake is for a homeowner to mark only one edge of the stud which often leads to a screw placed at the stud edge and not at the center of the stud.

4)  Is it Drywall or Lath and Plaster? Your stud finder is designed to work with sheet materials like drywall or plywood.  If the wall is lath and plaster or some other material, you’ll need different solutions that you can find on my blog, The Secret to Finding Wood Studs in Lath and Plaster.

5) Mark it. Make sure to mark the stud edge on the wall with a pencil. Although DIYers often carefully locate the stud, they just eyeball where to place the screw. By doing so, they are only approximating where the stud edge actually is located -they miss the stud, and think the stud finder does not work effectively. I recommend using masking or painter’s tape on the wall, so the marks are not permanent. It’s also a good idea to use longer pieces of tape so you can ‘map out’ multiple stud locations in your work area (studs are normally spaced 16” or 24” apart on center).

We’re here to help!  In addition to these troubleshooting tips, Zircon has an online searchable knowledge base on many stud finding and scanning topics available 24/7. We also offer DIY personal end-user support Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm PST.  Call, email, or visit us online for the help that you may need. Help us help you.

We often get asked, why does my stud finder have trouble with lath and plaster when it works perfectly through drywall? Or, what is the best tool or technique for finding studs in lath and plaster walls?

The front of this lath and plaster wall is smooth - no problem for your stud finder.

The front of this lath and plaster wall is smooth – no problem for your stud finder.

Your Zircon stud finder finds studs by looking for an increase in density compared to where it was first calibrated on the wall.  Drywall and other manufactured sheet materials have very consistent density, but lath and plaster walls have very inconsistent density on the backside of the wall. This is where the plaster is squeezed between the lath and ‘keys’ onto the back of the lath and holds the plaster in place.

So, even if the front of the wall has a very smooth texture, the back of the wall is what gives your stud finder trouble because there are changes in density everywhere as you scan.

Shown here is a peek behind the wall. Lath and plaster walls have an irregular surface that are a problem for stud finders.

Shown here is a peek behind the wall. Lath and plaster walls have an irregular surface that are a problem for stud finders.

As a result, your stud finder can show a false positive (a stud indication when it is actually not a stud) when it finds an increase in density, even if it is just a glob of plaster.

The best solution is to use a Zircon MultiScanner® wall scanner that has Metal Scan Mode or one of Zircon’s dedicated metal detectors, such as the MetalliScanner® m40 or MetalliScanner® MT 6, so you can find the little nails or tacks that are fastening every piece of wood lath to the studs.

Use a Zircon metal detector to locate the nails that fasten each piece of lath to the studs.

Use a Zircon metal detector to locate the nails that fasten each piece of lath to the studs.

Since you can detect the nail heads all the way up and down the entire height of the stud with the Metal Scan mode, this is a much more reliable way to find studs.

Please see the video demo of an m40 finding studs through lath and plaster on the Zircon web site.

Note:  All photos were taken in a test lab environment.

Working on hanging a flat screen television or want DIY help? Make sure to take a look at our Zircon in the Real World blog, “Think Outside Your Wall“. For more useful tips, please follow us @zircontools or like us on Facebook.




Kurt Stauss at Honeywell

Classroom training started with a video, followed by questions and answers, hands-on training on demonstration walls, and a written applications test.

Zircon has received requests for training at large industrial complexes around the country because the safety departments now require workers to fill out a form certifying that they have scanned the wall, floor or ceiling before workers penetrate these materials, whether they are concrete or drywall.

As these photos show, I conducted classroom and hands-on training for subcontractors who work at a Department of Energy (DOE) site managed by Honeywell, near Kansas City.  Each attendee was trained in the usage of the Zircon MetalliScanner MT6 and the Zircon MultiScanner i500. At the end of the training session, the attendees received a certificate after demonstrating basic proficiency in operating the MT6 and the MultiScanner i500.

The head of the safety department personally researched and tested various brands of metal detectors for concrete and multi-function wall scanners (stud finders) for drywall.  He could have selected different vendors for each category, but Zircon was selected to fulfill both goals based on the performance of the tools, and especially because of their ease of use.

Kurt Stauss at Honeywell near wall

First step in the training was to demonstrate that the MT6 worked in the environment, by locating high voltage lines in conduit in the wall behind me here

Before starting the classroom training, I was asked to demonstrate the MT6 onsite, as this would get the men excited about the capabilities of the MT6. At the onsite location, inside the wall behind me, there were high voltage electrical lines, but they didn’t tell me that.

I was easily able to locate and trace the power lines inside the steel conduit by using the MT6.  Of course, conduit offers some protection in many cases, but if a worker core drills through the wall in that location, it would cut through the conduit (and high voltage lines) like a hot knife through butter! The workers were thoroughly impressed with the performance of the MT6. (They want to get home safe every night)!

Kurt Stauss at Honeywell 3

The class laughed when one guy commented on how surprised he was that the MT6 works so well, considering how inexpensive it is.

I recently did a similar training at an Intel Chip Fab facility in Arizona and they selected the Zircon MetalliScanner MT6 and the MultiScanner i500.  One comment I hear repeatedly is that they knew about Zircon stud finders, but they had no idea Zircon also made such awesome concrete scanners!

(Note: Cameras are not allowed inside the high security DOE facility, but the photos were sent to me by a DOE staff photographer).

Zircon’s in the Real Blogs also provide a service and training perspective on popular subjects, such as the blog, “Does it Have X-Ray Vision?” For additional insights, please also visit us @zircontools, like us on Facebook or ivsit