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Plaster walls

Posted by graywings (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 15, 10 at 6:26

This my first experience owning a house with plaster walls. Can anyone give me some advice on how best to affix things to the walls? The plaster is a half-inch thick and whatever is behind it is hard as a rock.

I'm trying to put up the back plate for a pin up lamp. It only weighs a few ounces but needs to be securely mounted because it will be constantly touched to turn off and on.

Everything in the hardware store, such as plastic plugs, is made to go in deeper than the half inch of plaster. And I believe I read that you shouldn't drill into the backing of the plaster.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Plaster walls

I should mention that I have found an old thread on the subject with suggestions to use drywall screws, Ook hangers, pre-drilling the holes, plastic anchors, molly bolts, and common nails. These lead me to believe that I need to drill into what's behind the plaster, which I assume is 90 year old wood, hard as a rock.

Here is a link that might be useful: Old thread


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RE: Plaster walls

Yes, you need to drill first. And for things requiring a lot of support or for fixtures, the screw/nail should be long enough to go into the lath behind the plaster.
Diane


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RE: Plaster walls

Hi, graywings - I know what you mean about the rock-hard pine! Even pre-drilling holes was a challenge, until I up-graded my cordless drill. :-)
Still wasn't a piece of cake, but much better, (and I REALLY wanted this Bosch, lol).
One thing I read - and tried with success - is to "mark" your nail/drilling spot with an "X" of masking tape. It really helps prevent the plaster from chipping & crumbling away while working. Yippee! No more 2" hole in outer plaster coat surrounding a tiny nail or screw hole! It even helped for drilling - the vibration while trying to penetrate the concrete - I mean "pine" sometimes made the problem worse (for me, anyway).
I know this wasn't what you were asking - but I thought I'd mention it. :-)


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RE: Plaster walls

Thank you! I will take all the advice anyone has to offer.


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RE: Plaster walls

"And for things requiring a lot of support or for fixtures, the screw/nail should be long enough to go into the lath behind the plaster. "

The lath is barely 1/4 inch thick and will not support very much.

If you need secure mounting you need to find a stud (and use screws long enough to get into the stud about 1.5 inches) or cut into the wall and add blocking and repair the plaster.

Molly bolts work at least as well as in drywall if you can find them long enough to get through the plaster and expand correctly in the stud cavity.

A Molly setting tool works wonders in plaster.
The small teeth on the molly designed to prevent rotation while you tighten the screw do not dig into plaster very well.


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RE: Plaster walls

I have a home built in 1780 and it has plaster walls. One of the antique specialist who came out to tell me about the house said never nail into the walls, always use screws. When you nail, it breaks the keys and then the plaster eventually sags. The previous owners had tons of pictures hung all over the place. Fortunately only the wall at the top of the stairs has a spot where so many keys broke you can see where they tried to patch the plaster. I make sure what I'm hanging is going where I want so I don't drill too many holes while making up my mind!! In a house this old, there aren't studs like we think of today and what wood is behind the plaster is randomly spaced so I don't even try to find them.


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RE: Plaster walls

If you are lucky you will have picture mouldings in the house to hang your pics from so you don't have to worry about breaking keys.
OR you could have some and the PO could have had her painter caulk it because she didn't like the gap!


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RE: Plaster walls

SUCCESS!!
A 3/16 inch masonry drill bit to pre-drill and two WallDog "Screw and Anchor in One" screws and it's up. Thanks everyone!


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RE: Plaster walls

"One of the antique specialist who came out to tell me about the house said never nail into the walls, always use screws."

Just drill a hole for the nail and slide it in.

If you drill at a slight downward angle it will hold small pictures just fine, and the nail head (use a finish nail) will prevent the nail from falling into the wall.


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RE: Plaster walls

For hanging my pictures, I have used furniture/carpet tacks with great success. The shanks are squarish and the heads won't fall into the holes if you drill--I've not had to drill so far.


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