How to Drill into a Stud in 4 Easy Steps

If you work on home DIY projects, then you will need to know how to drill into a stud. Studs are used in construction for support and they can be found hidden behind drywall or plasterboard.

If you want to drill into a stud, you need to make sure that the right tools are at your disposal. You also need to know how deep and where on the stud you’re going to be drilling. If you don’t, then it could lead to a lot of frustration and wasted time when building your project. 

Learning how to drill into a stud is an essential skill for homeowners and handymen. In fact, drilling into a stud is one of the most important tasks in household DIY. Inaccuracy or lack of technique can result in a broken drill bit or worse, damage to your walls.

how to drill into a stud

Drilling into a stud is often necessary for many wall installations. It’s crucial to know the correct technique to avoid damaging the material and the stud itself.

How to Drill into a Stud

The procedure for how to drill into a stud is straightforward. When drilling into a stud, follow these four easy steps.

Step 1: Locate the Stud

Identifying a stud is the first step to how to drill into a stud. If you don’t find a stud, your new picture frame is likely to be broken into many little pieces on the floor.

Listed below are two of the simplest methods for finding a stud.

Use a Stud Finder

A stud finder is a tool that you may have seen on a workbench before. These are tiny, hand-held gadgets that can be used to detect a stud quickly along the wall.

Place your stud finder flat on the wall and gradually slide it forward or backward. When you detect a stud, you’ll hear a beeping noise, indicating that it’s safe to drill there. While some models are more accurate than others, most any stud finder will suffice. You may always double-check using the tap-the-wall method described below.

Tap the Wall

If you’ve ever drilled into a stud, you’ve probably done the tap the wall trick. While it isn’t the most dependable technique to determine whether or not you’re drilling into the drywall, it’s a fantastic way to ensure that you aren’t going to drill through it.

When you’re knocking on drywall in a room that isn’t being used, just knock against the wall and listen for a “hard” hit. When knocking on drywall, it will sound hollow, but when you discover a stud, it should be solid.

Step 2: Identify the Edge and Center

Make a small mark at the top and bottom of each side of the stud in the drywall to ensure that you don’t accidentally drill off one of them.

You should able to tell where the stud ends quickly by knocking against the wall and hear whether it sounds hollow, indicating that the stud has ended. Because wall studs are generally about 2 inches long, this should give you a decent approximation.

Once you’ve located both ends of the stud, make a note of the center with your pencil.

If you make only light marks on your wall, you may easily remove the indications once you’re done.

Step 3: Select a Drill Bit for the Stud

The drill bit you use for a stud depends on whether the stud is made of metal or wood. When learning about how to drill into a stud, it is important to take note that the type of drill bit for stud that is used will affect the outcome.

drill bit for stud

When choosing a drill bit for metal studs:

  • Use metal drill bits and, if possible, self-tapping screws or metal anchors to attach objects to metal studs.
  • Bits for metal are harder than those used on wood, as they are composed of cobalt or titanium and have a pointed tip that flares out at either a 118 degree angle, which is regarded a general-purpose metal bit, or a 135 degree angle, which is considered a more particularly metal boring bit.
  • For a metal stud, toggle bolts are an excellent option. There are several different types, but they all function in the same way by growing inside the stud and preventing the bolt from being removed.

When choosing a drill bit for wood studs:

  • Deck screws or wood screws are a wonderful option since they’re coarse threaded and will stay firmly in place. The length of your screw should be long enough to go through one inch into the stud.

Step 4: Drill into the Stud

How to drill into a metal stud:

  • You’ll need to drill a hole through your metal stud, and you may have to drill a smaller pilot hole first before drilling a large enough aperture for the toggle bolt.
  • Open the metal stud on one side and slide the toggle bolt into position, depending on whether it’s a standard or waterproof toggle bolt, it will either spring open inside of the metal stud or expand when tightened.

How to drill into a wood stud:

  • To ensure a firm foundation, make a hole in a stud with a wood drill bit and drill 1 inch deep.
  • If your stud is behind a wall, use a stud finder or a tape measure to locate it; typically, 16 inches on center will be found starting at one end of the wall and working toward the other.
  • Use the smallest amount of paste possible to go through your wall material and about 1 inch into your stud. Make a mark for each hole, then apply firm pressure while drilling straight in; you should feel resistance all the way in if not, you’ve missed your stud.

Precautions for drilling into a stud:

If you’re drilling a hole through a wall into a stud, make sure the thickness of your wall and any brackets you’ll be connecting are taken into account when selecting screws.

When drilling into a stud, it’s usually best to use the shortest screw feasible to avoid the risk of interfering with electrical wires or plumbing that may be hidden within the wall.

Now that you know how to drill into a stud, read on for more tips on performing this task.

How to Know if You are Drilling into a Stud

If you are reading on how to drill into a stud, you are probably also wondering how to know if you are drilling into a stud. If you are hanging something heavy, then studs are the way to go. They provide much more stability than a drywall anchor can offer. Studs are usually found at every 16 inches on center (O.C.) or 24 O.C.. This means that there is one in between each set of two studs and they span across the entire wall horizontally from top to bottom. But how do you know if your drill bit has hit one? Well, it’s actually pretty easy once you have identified where all of your studs should be located beforehand by locating them with a stud finder. If the hole made by your drill bit goes through easily without breaking up any plasterboard behind it, then chances are good that it has hit a stud.

drilling into a stud

How Far Should My Screw go into the Stud?

This is an essential question for anyone who needs to know how to drill into a stud. Once you have successfully drilled into your first stud, then it’s time to screw in that new hook or picture hanger! How far should screws be going into a stud though? Well, they need to be long enough so that the threads on each side of the head poke out and can be used as grip area for an anchor screw . However, if they are too long and pierce through both sides of drywall on either side of where your piece is hanging from (sometimes called double-sheeting), then there is not much more holding up what you’re trying to hang than just those two sheets themselves! This type of construction does not hold very well at all.

Because electrical cables are generally strung through the center of a stud, you should typically not drill or screw any deeper than one inch into one.

Where to Drill into a Stud?

After you find out how to drill into a stud, and are about to start, it is important to know where to drill into. There are two main places that you can drill into a stud: horizontally and vertically, though the latter is preferred if possible due to its ability for greater support . A horizontal drilling will work great in some cases but keep in mind that it will only be able to hold your item at most 16 inches from where you drilled into the wall (if using drywall). If this won’t work or isn’t an option, then plan on doing some vertical drilling instead. This way works best when hanging larger items such as flat screen TVs up onto walls with no other fixtures on them near where they would need to go. It’s also really helpful if there happens not to be any studs close enough together to where you need your screw to go.

Further Tips for How to Drill into a Stud

  • Make sure there’s already been holes drilled horizontally across where the vertical ones will go (this is done by looking at marks left behind from previous hanging attempts)
  • Try placing objects such as picture frames up against where they would eventually go in order to get an idea of how high or low they should be placed
  • Screw in screws as far as they need to go before hanging anything from them


How to drill into a stud is an important skill for anyone who has ever lived in or worked in their own home. It’s also one of the most basic tasks that DIYers should know how to do- but it can be tough if you’ve never done it before! You may need someone else nearby just in case things get out of control- they’ll be there to hold your drill or wall back if it begins falling apart. It’s best to go slowly at first, testing the tip of your bit every now and then until you are confident that you’re drilling into a stud. You now know how to drill into a stud and you’re ready for the next DIY project. Remember, it’s always best to use safety equipment when working on any construction projects at home or in your business.

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