Problems with mollies/bolts in plaster wall

stephanienycAugust 9, 2010

After my bathroom wall was painted, I had to re-hang a small shelving unit. I bought new mollies for the old screws and had thought I'd hung the unit back up successfully, though one of the anchors was a little shaky. That was good for just over a month, then the unit came crashing down. I just tried again, using metal anchors rather than plastic ones. Two went in fine, but two just wouldn't lock. Do I just have bad anchors? Might something be wrong with the holes? Thanks.

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You need a bolt/screw assembly that will spread out at least an inch on the back side of the wall to hold any weight. Thjose little plastic anchors that you shove in a hole and then run a screw in there just doesn't cut it.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 10:49PM
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I tried some metal ones that weren't the butterfly toggles and they caused a shelf to crash down and rip out big holes in the wall too.

I finally got toggle bolts that have the big wings. The guy at the store told me to make sure they were plenty long, I got 2" since it was just going thru 1/2" drywall. I found they wouldn't tighten very well till I put pressure on them to snug the toggle against the wall, then it 'grabbed' and went in tight.

I will never again use anything but those toggle bolts, I've tried everything for sheetrock walls and nothing holds but those.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 11:53PM
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Try the original Toggler brand toggle bolt:

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 12:46AM
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If all else fails, the one sure solution is to cut out a square of the wall just big enough to give you room to fasten in a 2x4 from stud to stud. Then replace with a patch piece of drywall and finish.See link below for tips on finishing drywall.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drywall Repair

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 4:15AM
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Sounds like you are expecting the shelf to hold too much weight. Find the studs and fasten it to them.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 8:34AM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions. However, my walls are solid plaster, not drywall. (There aren't any studs, or if there are they're difficult to find.) Are the toggle bolts good for plaster as well?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 9:01AM
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As long as something in the wall spreads out it will work on plaster or drywall. You have to get long enough ones because plaster can be thicker than drywall.

If they come loose they should take a 4" square of plaster down, otherwise you have the wrong ones.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 9:10AM
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The usual problem with Molly bolts in plaster is getting them long enough to expand behind 3/4 inch of plaster and not in the plaster.

They provide about a one inch span in two directions (four 'wings') but plaster often requires extra long Molly bolts.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 11:00AM
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All walls have studs. Even plaster walls.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 8:48AM
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"All walls have studs. Even plaster walls."

The problem is often getting to the studs with a small enough size screw to fit the hardware being fastened.

While 2 inch #6 wood screws are available, they are not a common hardware store size and will only have about 1.25 inches of screw into the stud.

Bolt Depot has about as large an assortment of screws as you will find.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bolt Depot Wood Screws

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 10:58AM
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