Curtain Rod & Plaster isn't getting along!


Old 04-28-05, 09:04 AM
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Exclamation Curtain Rod & Plaster isn't getting along!

Ok, I'm trying to hang a curtain rod over the entry to a "bay window" in my bedroom, and can't seem to get the plaster to work with me. Have tried the screws that you nail into hollow walls and that didn't work either. If anyone can tell me the trick to getting the job done, I'll love you forever...
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Old 04-28-05, 10:45 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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You'll love us, but we need more information. What kind of hardware will the rod hang by, what kind of plaster, where on the wall or ceiling?
Old 04-28-05, 02:17 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Cape Cod
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Is it real plaster over lathe? or do you mean drywall?
Is there trim around the window? How is that attached?
Is the curtain going on the outside of the trim, or inside the 'bay"?
Old 04-29-05, 02:25 AM
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Red face Well...

Ok, to be more specific, I have no idea what kind of plaster it is. It's actually nowhere near the trim since this version of a "bay window" is actually recessed off of the rest of the room and has four windows. I am hanging the curtain rod in front of the area, so it's on the actual wall of the room, with the area behind it (has a tv stand and tv in there). The hardware is a hook that takes two screws each, and then you lay the rod in it. (the home depot type that is supposed to look like cast iron...) hope that helps! (grin)

Bear with me. This is my first house and I don't have a clue as to technical terms as far as plaster goes. I've hung drywall before but this is truly out of my realm of understanding!

Last edited by TheHamilton3; 04-29-05 at 02:27 AM. Reason: Forgot some info...
Old 04-29-05, 11:01 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 1,210
I think I know those curtain hooks. They come with crummy expansive wall anchors.

And you've hung drywall before so I guess you mean this wall is real lathe & plaster.

Working with lathe & plaster walls is an art. You need a sort of x-ray vision into them. The wood strips run densely horizontal; 1/4" gaps between, about 1-1/4" to 1-1/2" wide. And they're only 1/4" thick, usually full of splits and dried brittle. Equally brittle plaster generously fills the gaps between lathes and adds a layer that could be anywhere from 1/8" to 5/8". The whole mess hangs on studs @16" through @24" was not uncommon for the period. And everything's fossilised old growth so hard as oak.

Often you can put a screw straight in and it'll hold great. The screw first grinds it's way through the plaster, exploding off small chips in the process, and then bites the tough lathe. Predrill here is ideal but it's rough on the bit unless you use a masonry bit then switch to a wood bit. If it goes into the lathe without incident you're lucky and the screw will take a lot of weight. More than cheap anchors in drywall for example.

Lots can go wrong though. You might miss the lathe by chance and drill into a gap. The lathe can split, usually if no predrilling or if you happen on an edge. The screw can push the thin lathe back away from the plaster - you may even hear it fall down inside the wall. Using a power screwdriver there's no feedback and it's easy to strip the hole or break a narrow screw.

I suggest you give this wall no empathy, and just use wing type anchors. These are bolts with a pair of sprung wings threaded onto the end. Use your hardware as a drilling template, drill holes large enough for the folded wings to fit through, messy is OK. Then take the wings off the bolts, put the bolts through the hardware, and thread the wings back on again, not too close. Fold the wings, push them through the wall, the wings spring apart loose inside the wall. Then turn the bolts so the whole assembly becomes a rude clamp.

You may wish to paint the shiney bolts so they look like the decorative screws included with the hardware.

If you want to put the hangers within a few inches of the wall corner, then you have studs to screw into, a different approach.

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