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Just Have a Little Faith!
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One of the biggest headaches about remodeling in an old house is trying to find the wall studs. These are plaster and lathe walls and stud finders don't work very well on these. Other than pounding a lot of nail holes, how do you folks solve this?
 

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Usually light switches and receptacles are attached to studs. This can give you a pretty close starting place. Rapping with a hammer covered with a cloth and listening for the sound is the best method I have found with plaster walls like you have. Studs are usually 16 inches on center but then there is the occasional 24 inch just to keep you honest and in doubt I'm sure.
 

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OK, here's a couple of thoughts. The lath will be nailed to the studs, pretty close to the center. Has to be some tool/device that will detect the metal nails.

Are you putting drywall over the old plaster? I did that once. I didn't worry about hitting the studs. I just used drywall screws and "hoped" to hit a lath. I was successful about 80% of the time in hitting a stud or lath. I was putting compound over the heads anyway, so it didn't matter if I had to "mud" a few extras. Worked out just fine...
 

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My house has wire lath walls. You cannot use a magnet or any kind of stud finder. I take an educated guess and use a dry wall screw if it doesnt hit anything I try it again 1 inch away. Once you find the first stud you can usually measure off of it to find another then another. I was trying to mount a bracket for adjustable shelves and I had a stud then half way up the wall it disapeared, I moved to the left and right with no luck. I drilled holes for over 4 feet 1 inch apart in a straight line and never found a stud! then I moved up a foot and did the same thing still no stud! Before I die I'm going to tear down the plaster in that room and see what the %&%%[email protected]#* is going on back there. I can laugh about it now but boy was I ****** at the time! I know that I'm not helping anybody but it feels good to vent! Ed
 

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Tear down the plaster! My first house was all p&l. The first room I redid was the DR. Went to remove a built in hutch and got the whole wall of plaster with it. After that, I had to remove it. I'll swing over tommorrow and give ya a hand if I get done with my FIL's deck. :rolleyes: :00000061:
 

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Try one of these manual, non-electronic, no magnets involved, stud finders. They leave really small pinholes that you don't have to patch and paint.

http://www.garrettwade.com/stud-finder/p/25T23ddd01/
That's a neat tool Steve .. But I do not think it will work with plaster walls .. plaster is much harder then drywall ..

A note about the above advise for looking for electrical boxes to find studs.

Back when they did lath and plaster .. most rooms had the receptacles down low and mounted in the base boards.

In many cases .. if the receptacles and wiring were upgraded .. chances are they were old-worked in ... and not attached to the studs at all ..

Take this advise from an electrician who rewired OLD plaster infested house's dozens of times.

That is why I do 90% new commercial work now .. Old Resi work :eck16:
 

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Branded for LIFE !!!
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look for the original nails in the baseboard..
 

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Find someone that does home energy audits. I have a buddy that has a Flir infrared camera, it is amazing what you can see. You might have to pay a few hundred to get someone to come to your house that has a camera, but you will see almost everything in your walls. And as an added plus... you will get some info about where your house is loosing heat...


The really neat thing about it is that you can see every stud, every sheet-rock screw (if you have drywall, *** near everything in the wall (should work as well with plaster) If I was ever going to do a major remodel I'd pay to have it done beforehand, it could save some headaches by allowing a change in plans before you tear into something. You can even see water pipes if you run the water to get them hot or cold, and you can sometime see wiring if you have enough load to warm the wire a bit.

Just make sure that they will provide you with some sort of report, with lots of still photos of all the walls in question. One thing you can do to help lay out where things actually are would be to cut out small squares of tin foil and tape them to the walls every foot. The IR camera will show the foil as a reflection, and it could be handy to reference it later to judge distance.

Anyway, it is probably crazy overkill, but it is a neat way to see how a structure is built without disturbing it at all.
 

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That's a neat tool Steve .. But I do not think it will work with plaster walls .. plaster is much harder then drywall ..

A note about the above advise for looking for electrical boxes to find studs.

Back when they did lath and plaster .. most rooms had the receptacles down low and mounted in the base boards.

In many cases .. if the receptacles and wiring were upgraded .. chances are they were old-worked in ... and not attached to the studs at all ..

Take this advise from an electrician who rewired OLD plaster infested house's dozens of times.

That is why I do 90% new commercial work now .. Old Resi work :eck16:
I agree about the outlets not being on the studs in most old houses. I have remodeled several and the majority of them have outlets in the middle of the wall nowhere near the studs. Light switches get closer, but are still off a couple inches or more.

When we do not tear out the old plaster, we locate the studs by looking at the baseboard nails. Another hint: lots of old houses did not follow the 16: O.C. rule, the builders put studs in where ever it worked best for them -- and many are not close to being level either so following them up can be challenging.

We normally will recommend stripping off the plaster to make things easier for all when doing this type of work. There usually is some electrical or plumbing that needs to be done when re-working a room (not always planned, but someone gets an "Idea" and plans change).

Good luck with your project!!
 

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That's a neat tool Steve .. But I do not think it will work with plaster walls .. plaster is much harder then drywall ..

A note about the above advise for looking for electrical boxes to find studs.

Back when they did lath and plaster .. most rooms had the receptacles down low and mounted in the base boards.

In many cases .. if the receptacles and wiring were upgraded .. chances are they were old-worked in ... and not attached to the studs at all ..

Take this advise from an electrician who rewired OLD plaster infested house's dozens of times.

That is why I do 90% new commercial work now .. Old Resi work :eck16:
Ditto!! I redid, and rewired my old house. A victorian era twofamley, and I tell ya, most of the wireing was knob, and tube, and did not have a box, the rest was just old BX shoved into a wall cavity, and a box attached to the plaster. Also hardly any studs were spaced eaven, and most that were were about 22-24" OC I just ripped it all down.
 

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I used to have one of those fancy electronic stud finders .. but when ever I got near it .. it went NUTS !!!

My wife said it was because I was "such a stud"

I tossed it in the trash :00000060: :00000060:
 

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I used to have one of those fancy electronic stud finders .. but when ever I got near it .. it went NUTS !!!

My wife said it was because I was "such a stud"

I tossed it in the trash :00000060: :00000060:
Im sure it was made in CHINA!!:eek:mg:
 
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