When mounting heavier accessories in your RV, you’ll probably want to drill directly into the wall studs. But how do you find wall studs in a travel trailer or motorhome? Unlike in a residential house, the location of studs inside your camper’s walls may not follow a set pattern. Before you go drilling holes in vain, here are some tips you can use to shorten your search.
Locating Wall Studs In a Camper Can Be Tricky
Building codes for residential homes make finding studs a simple process. The same can’t be said for RVs though. Your RV may have wooden or metal studs, and often times they aren’t placed at regular intervals.
Use these tips to locate studs in your RV:
- look for the rivets that attach the interior wall covering to the studs
- use a magnetic or electronic stud finder. These are fairly cheap (about $10 – $20) and can be used to find both wooden and metal studs
- go outside in the early morning (when there’s dew on the exterior of your camper) and you should notice an outline of the studs. Take a quick picture, and then use a photo editing program to mark the location of the studs.
- get a framing diagram direct from the factory. These diagrams include all sorts of useful measurements.
- gently push on wall paneling with hands 8″ to 10″ apart to see where the panel bends.
- use an infrared thermometer. Since there’s no insulation in the studs, they’ll be cooler than the surrounding, insulated wall paneling.
A few other important points:
- It’s worth noting that studs inside a camper are usually spaced irregularly, and sometimes up to 24″ to 36″ apart. They’re not like those found in a residential house, on 16″ centers.
- There may be sections of plywood added in between the studs to reinforce certain areas in your RV’s walls. These plywood sections may throw off your stud finder with a ‘false positive’. You might think that the device isn’t working properly – when in fact it is.
- You might be better off using rivets to attach things to the metal studs instead of screws. The metal studs may be too thin to allow the threads on metal screws to grip correctly.
- When first drilling into the stud’s probable location, use a very small drill bit. That way if you mess up, no one will be able to tell you drilled into the wall. 🙂
If possible, it’s best to contact your RV’s manufacturer to obtain the structural drawings for your model. While this won’t guarantee you’ll hit pay dirt on your first stud-finding mission, you’ll have a much better idea of what lies beneath your RV’s walls.