How Much Weight Can a Stud Hold?

Studs are the backbone of any well built house. Your studs are a key part of the structure, but several factors determine how much weight they can hold. Whether it be a screw in the stud or an entire stud wall, let's take a look at how much weight it can hold.

How Much Weight Can a Stud Hold

When trying to hang up decorations, TVs, or even lights on a while, the main question is; can your stud hold the weight? Studs are boards that are used in the framing elements of your home and support the walls.

A screw in a stud can hold an average of 90 pounds. An entire stud wall can hold an average of 25,000 pounds with even weight distribution. Construction screws can hold the most weight, and cheap drywall screws can’t hold as much weight in a stud.

Studs are spaced approximately 16 or 24 inches apart from center to center. They run along the wall and between the floor and ceiling. Drywall or plaster is attached to the edge of the studs to form walls.

Increasing the Weight, a Stud Can Hold

A screw in a stud can usually hold 80-100 lbs, but there are tricks to increase the amount of weight it can hold.

Using a Screw in a Stud

The fastest way to increase the weight a screw in a stud can hold is by using several screws if possible. This way two screws can hold 160-200 lbs and increases the same with even more screws.

Putting a screw in the center of the stud will also provide the best stability and support. If you are placing shelves, this distribution will also help to keep the shelves from sagging. If the item you are hanging spans several studs, make sure to use each of them. This will distribute your load and also allow you to double up on screws.

The Screw You Use Matters

The grade of the screw you are using matters as well. A cheap drywall screw will hold less weight than a construction screw. It is a good idea to use better screws if you are hanging something heavy. Construction screws also have thread cutting. This makes it much easier to place things.

Doing the Math: An Example

If you consider an 8-foot span of shelves, the studs are 16 inches apart. There should then be five studs over this area. Using two screws per stud, each of the shelves can support 800-1,000 lbs. The shelves weight about 30 lbs. They will be used to support roughly 40 lbs of storage items. An entire wall of studs can typically hold 20,000-30,000 lbs using this method.

The takeaway from this example is that you want your screw and stud to be more than strong enough to hold the item. To do this, double up on screws. Overbuilding is very important, so it all does not come crashing down.

Why Find a Stud?

When hanging heavy objects such as pictures, mirrors, shelves, or TV mount systems, they must be anchored to the stud using fasteners or hangars. Often times, hanging such heavy objects cannot be done on the wall alone as it is not strong enough.

Additional Benefits of Using Studs

Studs also hold fasteners longer so they will not pull out due to the weight of the object you are hanging. The best placement of a fastener is in the center of the stud as it provides the best support.

Steel studs are found in some homes that may require specialty fasteners. These could include toggle bolts to support heavy, bulky items. You can check for studs by running a magnet along the length of a wall. Wood studs will have nails and screws attract the magnet.

Steel studs on the other hand will have a strong attraction along the entire height and length of the stud. Another option is to use an electronic stud finder, which can usually detect metal in the wall.

How to Find a Stud

The two options for finding a stud: an electronic stud finder, or manually.

Using a Stud Finder

If there is drywall in your home, using a stud finder is fast and accurate way to locate studs. A stud finder is less efficient on plaster walls but may have a helpful metal-scanning feature. This feature can help you locate the nails securing the plaster to the stud.

 Steps to Use With an Electronic Stud Finder

To find a stud using an electronic stud finder:

  1. Find how high on the wall you would like to begin looking for a potential stud. This should be based on the installation height of the fastener you are using to secure the desired object.
  2. If necessary, calibrate the stud finder. This is usually done by positioning it on the wall where no stud is located and activate the finder. If it is calibrated, the stud finder will indicate it. If not, move and try again. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to have the best results.
  3. Move the stud finder along the surface at the height of the desired fastener. The stud finder will signal when it senses the stud. Mark the location of the stud. If necessary, recalibrate. Find the other edge of the stud and mark it. This mark should be approximately 1 ½ inches from the first. Mark the midpoint as this is the center of the stud.
  4. Find several points on the stud and find other nearby studs using the steps above. This will make sure you have successfully found a stud.

Finding a Stud Manually

To find the studs manually:

  1. Estimate the stud locations by looking at the wall. On drywall, raised or sunken imperfections that are vertical. These indicate fasteners that secure the panels to the studs. This will give you an estimation of the center of the studs.
  2. Tapping the wall with your hand or a hammer may help you find a stud. A low, hollow sound indicates no stud is present. Tapping over a stud produces a higher, solid sound.
  3. When you believe you have found a stud, indicate the location. If needed, measure the distance between studs as they should be 16 or 24 inches apart. To confirm the presence of a stud, drive a small finish nail. If it is a stud, you should feel resistance. You may need to repair the hole after removing the nail, however.

Our Final Notes

When using either method, make sure that you are in fact locating studs. Other objects such as pipes or conduits may appear to be studs but are not. When you think you have found a stud, check several points on it to make sure that it is vertical.

Find several studs and measure the distance between them to make sure they are 16 or 24 inches apart from center to center. If the measured distance is different than this, you have probably located something other than a stud.

Make sure that you are aware of other things that may be in the wall including ducts, electrical wire, and water pipes. You must be careful when installing fasteners around these items.

A tip to know where studs are located is to run a strip of painter’s tape along the entire length of the wall and mark the locations.

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