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Stud finding..Got any hints?
Old 07-06-2017, 08:26 PM   #1
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Stud finding..Got any hints?

We are trying to install an 18ft Sunsetter motorized awning. This is replacing an older manual model so we've been down this road before.

For the new one all the weight is mounted on the house, the old one was mounted differently and operated differently.

This new one needs to be securely attached to studs at 6 points and that's where we are running into a problem.

There are two layers of siding on the house, aluminum siding over wood siding. Our stud finders don't read anything on the outside. On the inside walls we can sometimes get a reading but it's variable. We are trying to transfer inside readings to the outside and just aren't sure if it's hitting the stud in the center or on the edge. It's just not feeling accurate.

I recommended aiming for above the sides of windows and where a wall would end. So far we are looking at making lots of holes and taking a lot of guesses. Our son is helping us and has gone home for the night as he got discouraged.

So what do other people do? Got any sure fire hints?

Thanks.
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Old 07-06-2017, 08:52 PM   #2
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If you are able to get ahold of a FLIR infrared heat scan device it will work very well, however they are very expensive. Fire Departments and Utilities use them. If the awning covers them you can also drill small exploratory/pilot holes(or patch them) in the area you estimate the stud to be then do the same to gauge the center of the stud. Once you do this you can measure 16 inches and that should be center of the next stud. Though sometimes it could be 18 or even 24. 16 inches is the most common measurement though. It is a little challenging but not too bad!
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Old 07-06-2017, 08:57 PM   #3
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You can also do a bit bigger hole and stick a metal hanger in to measure how far from a stud you are... so you will not have a bunch of small holes...
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Old 07-06-2017, 09:33 PM   #4
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How disappointing. When I read the title of this thread, I thought it was about a new dating website for the lady's. I was ready to add my profile.
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Old 07-06-2017, 09:41 PM   #5
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How disappointing. When I read the title of this thread, I thought it was about a new dating website for the lady's. I was ready to add my profile.
Me too , I was going to suggest just going to a bar and hit on a young guy .
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Old 07-06-2017, 09:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Sue J View Post
We are trying to install an 18ft Sunsetter motorized awning. This is replacing an older manual model so we've been down this road before.

For the new one all the weight is mounted on the house, the old one was mounted differently and operated differently.

This new one needs to be securely attached to studs at 6 points and that's where we are running into a problem.

There are two layers of siding on the house, aluminum siding over wood siding. Our stud finders don't read anything on the outside. On the inside walls we can sometimes get a reading but it's variable. We are trying to transfer inside readings to the outside and just aren't sure if it's hitting the stud in the center or on the edge. It's just not feeling accurate.

I recommended aiming for above the sides of windows and where a wall would end. So far we are looking at making lots of holes and taking a lot of guesses. Our son is helping us and has gone home for the night as he got discouraged.

So what do other people do? Got any sure fire hints?

Thanks.
Sue, I dont want to be a big shot with your money. but.... Hire a professional,
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Old 07-06-2017, 09:56 PM   #7
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As you may know, the standard exterior wall stud spacing is 16". Yes, there will be studs at the edges of doors, but these studs at the edges of doors and windows are frequently >not< on the "regular 16" rhythm" of the rest of the studs on the wall. Also, there will often be more than one stud at the edge of a door or window--two 2x4s will be affixed together to support the greater weight of the roof above the whole door/window.

In your shoes, I'd probably use a regular studfinder on the interior of the wall. First, try to see if there >are< any studs above the door. If it is a short distance to the top plate of the wall, there may be a solid header above the door, whether built-up of plywood, lumber, or an engineered wood. If you are using a studfinder and searching about 8" above the door opening and finding no studs (i.e. the same density everywhere), then you probably have a solid header that goes from the top of the doorframe to the top plate of the wall. If you do have a solid header over the whole door you are in luck, because anywhere you drill will be into something solid. Regardless, there will be at least a couple of 2x4s on edge above the doorframe, that might be sufficient to hold the awning (check with the instructions--it sounds like the awning will put a lot of cantilevered weight off of the wall, it might twist a small header. They are fastened to other boards so they can support weight from the top (the roof), they aren't designed to take torsional loads).
If there are studs between the top of the door and the top plate of the framing, your studfinder should locate them from the interior side of the wall. Find one near the middle of the door, then measure 16" either side and see if the studfinder locates other studs there.

I'm probably a lunkhead, but if I'm hanging something really heavy from a stud, I don't depend on the studfinder to show me the precise edge/middle of the stud. After I know about where it is, I drill tiny holes until I locate the no-kidding edge of the stud. Measure back 3/4" to be right in the middle of the stud. After you locate it on the inside of the wall, transfer the mark to the outside of the wall (by using the doorframe edge as a common reference. Or, drop a plumb weight from the interior mark, mark the glass door where the line is, then go outside with your plumb bob and find the point directly above the mark on the inside of the glass). It's usually necessary to do this drill-bit exploring only once, after that a 16" spacing should reliably put you in the middle of the other studs on the same wall.
So, have a drill, some spackle, and some matching wall paint to repair the inside of the wall before you start (or hang a picture there!).
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Old 07-06-2017, 10:02 PM   #8
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The reviews for electronic ones usually aren't too good.

What I use is a finder with a really strong magnet.

https://www.amazon.com/CH-Hanson-030...ic+stud+finder


Not perfect, but seems better than the electronic ones.
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Old 07-06-2017, 10:20 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
The reviews for electronic ones usually aren't too good.

What I use is a finder with a really strong magnet.

https://www.amazon.com/CH-Hanson-030...ic+stud+finder


Not perfect, but seems better than the electronic ones.
I've had an electronic one for many years. Never had a problem using it. Like Samclem said, it finds the stud pretty close to the edges and then I use a tiny bit or small nail to get the precise stud edges. I can get the exact edges with two or three holes.
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Old 07-06-2017, 10:21 PM   #10
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Funny, I have the same problem. We just put James Hardie siding on the house, and had to take down the Sunsetter above our second story balcony. Now I have to put it back up, and the measurements I dutifully took against the door trim don't work, as they replaced the door trim, reminds me of the joke about marking the good fishing spot by painting an X in the rental boat and hoping you get the same boat next time...

I'm hoping my trusty magnetic finder works through the concrete siding...
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Old 07-06-2017, 10:30 PM   #11
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...There are two layers of siding on the house, aluminum siding over wood siding. Our stud finders don't read anything on the outside. On the inside walls we can sometimes get a reading but it's variable...
The aluminum siding is electrically conductive, and that prevents proper operation of the electronic stud finder which senses the change in material density when it is passed over a stud.

I don't know what will work.
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Old 07-06-2017, 11:43 PM   #12
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Sue, I dont want to be a big shot with your money. but.... Hire a professional,
+1

Short of that, I would find someone to take the aluminum siding off the house (and be able to put it back on after you mount the awning). With the aluminum siding off, you can better evaluate the situation. You said wood siding was under the aluminum. Maybe you will see nails in a pattern to indicate the studs. Also, small pilot holes will be possible. Personally, I like the idea of drilling a hole big enough to send a wire (hanger) through. However, with any drilling, think about electricity. You sure don't want to be clipping a wire.
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Old 07-07-2017, 04:06 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by like2 View Post
If you are able to get ahold of a FLIR infrared heat scan device it will work very well, however they are very expensive. Fire Departments and Utilities use them. If the awning covers them you can also drill small exploratory/pilot holes(or patch them) in the area you estimate the stud to be then do the same to gauge the center of the stud. Once you do this you can measure 16 inches and that should be center of the next stud. Though sometimes it could be 18 or even 24. 16 inches is the most common measurement though. It is a little challenging but not too bad!
Good idea and one we have used many times. If you can find an electrical outlet, those are usually located on one side or another of a "true"stud (not jack studs). Then go out 16 inches, but still use the drill holes as a gauge.
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Old 07-07-2017, 05:10 AM   #14
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Then go out 16 inches, but still use the drill holes as a gauge.
16 inches is standard for newer construction. In my house (pre-Civil War), studs can range from 14 to 24 inches depending on the room and the studs themselves can be 2 to 4 inches thick.
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Old 07-07-2017, 06:03 AM   #15
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A word of caution. Electrical and/or other utilities may be in those walls.
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Old 07-07-2017, 06:36 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
As you may know, the standard exterior wall stud spacing is 16". Yes, there will be studs at the edges of doors, but these studs at the edges of doors and windows are frequently >not< on the "regular 16" rhythm" of the rest of the studs on the wall. Also, there will often be more than one stud at the edge of a door or window--two 2x4s will be affixed together to support the greater weight of the roof above the whole door/window.

In your shoes, I'd probably use a regular studfinder on the interior of the wall. First, try to see if there >are< any studs above the door. If it is a short distance to the top plate of the wall, there may be a solid header above the door, whether built-up of plywood, lumber, or an engineered wood. If you are using a studfinder and searching about 8" above the door opening and finding no studs (i.e. the same density everywhere), then you probably have a solid header that goes from the top of the doorframe to the top plate of the wall. If you do have a solid header over the whole door you are in luck, because anywhere you drill will be into something solid. Regardless, there will be at least a couple of 2x4s on edge above the doorframe, that might be sufficient to hold the awning (check with the instructions--it sounds like the awning will put a lot of cantilevered weight off of the wall, it might twist a small header. They are fastened to other boards so they can support weight from the top (the roof), they aren't designed to take torsional loads).
If there are studs between the top of the door and the top plate of the framing, your studfinder should locate them from the interior side of the wall. Find one near the middle of the door, then measure 16" either side and see if the studfinder locates other studs there.

I'm probably a lunkhead, but if I'm hanging something really heavy from a stud, I don't depend on the studfinder to show me the precise edge/middle of the stud. After I know about where it is, I drill tiny holes until I locate the no-kidding edge of the stud. Measure back 3/4" to be right in the middle of the stud. After you locate it on the inside of the wall, transfer the mark to the outside of the wall (by using the doorframe edge as a common reference. Or, drop a plumb weight from the interior mark, mark the glass door where the line is, then go outside with your plumb bob and find the point directly above the mark on the inside of the glass). It's usually necessary to do this drill-bit exploring only once, after that a 16" spacing should reliably put you in the middle of the other studs on the same wall.
So, have a drill, some spackle, and some matching wall paint to repair the inside of the wall before you start (or hang a picture there!).
Excellent advice
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Old 07-07-2017, 07:53 AM   #17
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Samclem and brucethebroker have the right ideas.

I have a very good stud and wiring finder, and it puts you right on a stud accurately. You can usually find a stud one side or the other on an inside electric box. Tapping with your knuckles can tell you which side the stud's on--by the sound.

I've been known to drill to one side of a stud with a 1/4 inch, 24" long drill bit--right through to the outside wall. That'll give you a great starting point to find the studs.
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Old 07-07-2017, 08:01 AM   #18
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My stud finder (~$60) goes through 5/8" Sheetrock with a orange peel finish, no problem. Sometimes you have to go slow, and maybe hit a stud further out. And you have to make sure you do not start where a stud is, and do it a few times to make sure. Then, you can find the rest of the studs because they are almost always (99%) 16" apart. If you have sheet rock walls, you can also tap the wall to find a solid spot, and verify with a screw or nail.

If you can do it from the inside, great. If not, what is under your wood siding? It may be plywood, which may lend itself well to a molly type anchor bolt - only if you cannot find the stud. If you can see where the aluminum siding is nailed, it may also be on studs.

If you really wanted to, you could open the wall on the inside, install a backer framing member, and re-seal the wall up. Flat sheet rock is easy to do this with. If you do not have studs in the correct location, and absolutely need a solid mounting point, that may be the way to go.

The door frames would certainly have a header, and two studs on each side of the door, a Jack stud and a king stud. The jack stud holds up the header above the door and carries the weight of what is above the door. Window frames are the same. Outlets are also on a stud, and if you take the outlet cover off, you can see what side of the stud the outlet is on.

A professional would only have different tools, and they would approach it the same way.
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Old 07-07-2017, 08:23 AM   #19
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There are several options to find solid wood:

- walls have a double 2x4 (or 2x6) top plate, so if you are mounting the awning high enough, you will hit wood along the entire length of the wall.

- windows and doors will have a header above which is solid wood, and also a stud or two on both sides.

- electrical plugs and light switches are normally mounted against a stud, pop off the cover to see which side they are on and you can then measure from the stud to something like a window or door on the outside.
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Old 07-07-2017, 08:25 AM   #20
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When I was 14 or 15 I used to crack up my Mother in the hardware store, snickering about stud finders, screw fittings, O rings etc....she was such a good sport, she laughed at everything with me.

That said: This is a really good thread, thanks for starting it.

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