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How do i hang cabinets on plaster and metal mesh wall?

How do i hang cabinets on plaster and metal mesh wall?


Old 04-27-12, 11:03 AM
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How do i hang cabinets on plaster and metal mesh wall?

What is the best way to attach upper kitchen cabinets to diamond metal mesh and plaster wall?
I want to hang new cabinets in my kitchen but the apt wall are made of plaster and diamond shape metal mesh thats held to a thin metal frame with clips.
I've drilled into the wall to peak for studs but, haven't found any - i can't figure out how the original owner attached the existing cabinets (40+years old) to the wall. i'm affraid that if i use the toggle/wing bolts that the cabinet manufacture recomends they will rip out of the wall and crush someone. Is metal lath strong enough to support the weight?
Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 04-27-12, 01:43 PM
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Welcome to the forums! One word in your post will bother some of us......apartment. Do you own it or rent it? If the latter, any changes you make you can be liable for unless you have written consent from the landlord/owner.
NOW, will your cabinets go all the way to the ceiling? there are studs and you will need to find at least one. Hopefully the remainder will be on 16" centers from that one. A deep scan stud finder may help, since they use sonar rather than magnetism to locate the density of the studs. If the cabinets go all the way to the ceiling, you can screw the top into the double top plate, which sticks down about 3" or so from the ceiling.
Old 04-27-12, 02:39 PM
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Like Chandler mentioned. You have to attach the cabinets to the studs. Often there will be one in the corners and you can try measuring out 16" (or increments of 16") to see if you find another stud. 16" is the most common stud spacing in modern construction but it could be anything and they may not all be spaced the same. I'm currently remodeling a house where they vary from 14" to 28" and it's a real pain in the rear.
Old 04-28-12, 10:52 AM
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Is the lath attached to 3/4" cold rolled channels and tied with wire? If so then there are probably no studs in the wall and the top is a special metal plate.

The lath could be attached to little thin studs about a half inch wide.

The lath could be attached to studs made like miniature bar joists. These are about the size of 8 ga wire maybe a little larger side by side with a zig zag piece running between them to another pair on the opposite side of the wall.

Any of these variations on plaster over metal lath are first class commercial work of about 60 years ago.

OK, now I've told you more than you want to know about how the wall might be built. Steel toggles with nice wide wings will hold pretty well. Maybe there is some wood blocking behind the lath in some places too. There must be some way to figure out how the other cabinets were installed. Can you look at some cabinets in other apartments and see if you see screw heads or nuts? If screw heads are they the heads of toggles or wood screws or lags?
If they are wood screws or lags there must be some blocking. Look in the same places for blocking in your place.
If the heads of toggles then you can't argue with success. Remember the pull is downward more than outward so the toggles have to hold tightly enough to hold the cabinet to the wall and the bolt has to hold the weight from falling down the wall.

If the plaster is about 3/4" thick and over metal lath it is actually quite strong. It will probably hold. Use twice as many toggles as you think are enough.

Are the original cabinets still hanging? If so keep looking but don't just start prying.

Maybe there is a 1 X 2 or 1 X 3 screed fastened to the studs of whatever kind they are at the top or even in the middle of the wall. This provided a screed for the plasterer to straighten the wall to and provides a surface to screw the cabinets to. Is there a plywood back to the old cabinets? If not look closely at the wall for a pair of horizontal cracks 2 ,3, or 4" apart. This could be the screed. Look wherever there is a strong place in the cabinets for a corresponding strong place in the wall.

Last edited by tightcoat; 04-28-12 at 11:08 AM.
Old 04-28-12, 08:59 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2012
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Hello. Thank you for your suggestions.
I drilled a ton of holes and still can't find studs. I'm thinking this wall may be similar to another that I replaced, which was also without studs. I do own the unit, but it is a co-op so replacing walls requires special board approval.
The existing cabinet (see pic) is about 6' wide, stretches from side to side, does not touch the ceiling, and only has a few screws in the back.
The wall has a dark grey, fairly rigid, diamond mesh (see pic) with about 1/2" of grey stone material on it. (someone told me it was strucolite - but i'm not 100% on that)
Most owners rip these walls out and rebuild them, but i have done it before and it is very hard work, with lots of dust, and requires board approval - so i would not want to do it again.
Maybe i should drill through the back of the cabinet to see if there is a support directly behind it?
I'm thinking that i may need professional help for this one - does anyone know a person in North Jersey that can do this type of work? Thanks for the suggestions.

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Old 04-28-12, 10:26 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Your picture is not much help. Unscrew some of the few screws that hold the existing cabinet. See if they are wood screws or little machine bolts like are on toggles. Just get the existing cabinet out of there carefully. it could be supported on the ends, Try lifting it straight up it could be on cleats.

You can learn almost everything you need to know by taking the old cabinet out. Remove any moldings if there are some. Then might give you a clue. Don't pry and bang indiscriminately. Deconstruct don't demolate. It will all make sense when you get it out. It does not bother me a bit that there are no studs. That is still good construction, albeit a little inconvenient.

Does this happen to be the separation wall between two units?
have you made a hole big enough to see inside the wall/ What does the back side of the opposite side look like?
Can you see the back side of the plaster on the other side?

I think you have good old gypsum plaster over metal lath. I would be a little surprised if it is StructoLite. Plain old gypsum plaster is made with sand for the aggregate. It is stronger and heavier than StructoLite.

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