plaster walls


Old 01-10-06, 11:38 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 201
plaster walls

I'd like to put up some shelves in old plaster walls, but experience shows me that it usually just makes a big hole in the plaster. So, I'm guessing there have to be tricks of the trade to put anything in plaster walls. Can someone please share those tips?
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Old 01-10-06, 03:23 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,722
There are a few ways to fasten shelves to old plaster. First, how heavy a shelf and how heavy will it be loaded? Youyr best bet is always to find the studs and fasten through the plaster to them. Screws work well in studs. use a long enough screw to hold the weight and remember the plaster holds nothing. If the shelf and and load are not heavy you can screw right into wood lath if such you have. A screw in the meat of the lath will hold a lot. Only thing is you don't know if you hit the meat of the lath or an edge. If the screw holds nothing you probably hit the key and moving the screw up or down an inch shold put it in the meat.
if you have gypsum lath and don't find the studs there are expansion anchors of various sorts. What you want is one that will expand behind the lath and give you a bearing on the lath and plaster that is larger than only the diameter of the anchor. Very light loads can be held with plastic pluc anchors.

To find the studs is a little harder in plaster than in drywall.. There are some tricks:
Often, but not always in wood lath the outlet boxes are nailed to studs. You can take the cover plate off and look to see if the stud shows. If not maybe you can take a coat hanger and poke it to either side and hit the stud. Better turn off the juice if you do this. Once you find one stud the rest are 16" o.c. apart. If you drive a screw into plaster and miss the stud you can usually tell. If you hit the stud there is resistance all the way.

Don't drive big nails and you shouldn't get big holes.

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