Does A Stud Finder Work On Popcorn Ceiling?

You might have set the ideal location for your TV set and bought the TV mount, gathering all the necessary tools for installation. Now you will require to locate a stud for starting the procedure. But how?

You can do it with the help of a stud finder, but does a stud finder work on popcorn ceiling? Popcorn or texture walls create many issues for stud finders to work. However, by using some methods, you can get the result.

Keeping the tool working against the popcorn ceiling or wall is somewhat challenging. Since heavy texture surfaces have uneven densities, they can throw off sensors in the device’s interior.

Popcorn ceiling or wall surface can be tricky to navigate while finding hidden ceiling joists. But you will have to locate them when you are planning or installing any lighting, hanging a plant, or a fixture.

Hence, we will discuss whether it works on popcorn ceiling in brief, followed by steps to use it over such surfaces –

Does Stud Finder Work On Popcorn Surfaces?

Generally, stud finders require flat surfaces to function appropriately. However, popcorn surfaces have texture; the stud finder cannot stay level or flat over them. Also, you cannot easily slide out stud finder on such bumpy ceilings or walls.

But there is a method available to utilize this tool on popcorn ceilings. All you require is to make the surface flat for the stud finder to work smoothly on this texture. You can make it work by placing any flat piece on the texture to get a flat surface for the stud finder.

Then place this tool on the top and turn the deep scanning option ON. A stud finder will help you find out joists through that piece and texture.

How To Use Stud Finder On Popcorn?

When you glance at your popcorn surface, you will realize that new light fixtures should hang from the ceiling joist. You need to do this to hold weight safely overhead.

The strategy to find these hidden joists behind the ceiling is to use a stud finder. Stud finder tool is the electronic device that detects changes in the density of wall for locating joist or stud.

But it is not possible to slide the device on the textured popcorn ceiling or wall and get the accurate location. You will require a flat surface between the top and apparatus for an excellent outcome.

Follow these steps to make stud finder work on popcorn surfaces –

Step 1: Access The Ceiling

The foremost step is to access the ceiling by standing on a ladder of any size according to the ceiling’s height. Ask your friend or another person to hold the ladder’s base, especially for the high top for your safety.

Step 2: Press The Thin Piece Of Flat Cardboard

Next, you have to press the thin piece of cardboard against your ceiling space where you want to find the joist.

As studs are about 16 to 24 inches apart approx, the cardboard must be about 2 feet by 2 feet in size for the proper coverage. Hold the cardboard on the place with one hand.

Step 3: Press Stud Finder

Now press the stud finder on the left side of your cardboard. Turn on the device by pressing the ON/OFF button. Let it boot up.

Step 4: Activate The Option Of Deep Scanning

It is time to activate the option of deep scanning available on the device. You can also go through the manual of the stud finder for the specific instructions (if not understood).

Every manufacturer has its way of turning on this feature. Without deep scanning mode activation, you cannot find out stud.

With this, the Popcorn surface and the cardboard create extra space such that the electrical detection system of the device must penetrate with more power. This power comes from the feature of the deep scan.

Step 5: Slide Stud Finder

Slide out the stud finder device slowly towards the right with one hand. Also, keep holding a cardboard with your other hand against the ceiling.

Further, observe your device’s display to find the change in the density of the ceiling.

Step 6: Observe The LED

When you observe the LED indication, stop moving your stud finder because it shows that the device got the edge of the joist. Then place the sewing pin into the popcorn surface along the edge of the stud or joist.

But do not press it through cardboard. Hence, this pin will be helpful for you to find out the stud after removing the cardboard.

Step 7: Continue To Slide The Device

You can proceed to slide the device to your right to find out the opposite edge of the joist or stud. Keep a note that it might be around 1.5 inches away.

Step 8: Put Another Pin

Place another pin for noting the opposite side of the located joist.

Step 9: Remove Your Cardboard And Stud Finder

Your job is done, so remove the stud finder and cardboard from your ceiling. Let the pins remain on the surface for having the visual market. It will help to install anything into the located stud.

So, with these steps, you can make a stud finder work on the popcorn ceiling. However, there is a way to find a ceiling stud without using a stud finder device. But it will be a little bit difficult.

How To find A Stud Without Using Ceiling Stud Finder?

This procedure is less accurate. However, you can complete this job without using a finder device. It is easy to find a stud with a magnet, but it does not work on popcorn ceilings. Such texture may be thick for the magnet to find nails in the joists.

Step 1: Measurements

You have to measure 16 inches from one wall up to the room’s center.

Step 2: Hammer Nail

Hammer nail in the ceiling for locating the joist. If it does not hit the solid texture, put another nail about one inch away.

Step 3: Measure 24 Inches

If the nail does not find out joist, measure about 24 inches from the wall. Usually, the ceiling studs are about 16 or 24 inches away.

Step 4: Hammer Nail

Hammer the nail in this space and move as necessary.


Finding out the studs on the popcorn surface can be an easy experience with perfect tools. The stud finder device is essential for this procedure, even though it is good to find studs without one.

A couple of electric stud finder devices are not so costly but have advanced technology. Those are also helpful in this DIY project.

Utilizing the stud finder is an excellent way for finding the studs but utilize the thin cardboard piece for leveling. It lets you get an accurate reading from your device.