When choosing anchors for your plaster walls, avoid drywall anchors and self-tapping anchors. These will pull out of plaster, as drywall and plaster are quite different. Instead, choose an anchor that is rated for masonry or one that is designed specifically for plaster walls. Rather than plaster anchors, consider using toggle bolts or molly bolts to fasten pictures and other decor securely to plaster walls. Additionally, several options such as picture rails and plaster hooks can be used instead of anchors to hang things on plaster.
Do Drywall Anchors Work on Plaster Walls?
Drywall anchors are not designed for use on plaster walls. In many cases, drywall anchors will pull out of plaster. This is because many drywall anchors are made to penetrate drywall that is 5/8-inch thick and spread outward at the tip, forming two “wings” that brace against the drywall from behind. This design won’t work on plaster walls because the plaster is too thick. Most plaster walls are more than 1 inch thick. The anchor can’t pierce through the plaster and spread the way it’s designed to, and thus pulls out easily.
- Avoid drywall anchors for plaster walls. They are designed for thin drywall, not thick plaster and lath.
- Do not use self-tapping anchors on plaster walls. The plaster and lath is too hard for the anchor to penetrate.
Self-tapping anchors designed for drywall are not suitable for plaster walls. You can identify self-tapping anchors by their screw shape and pointed tip. Plaster and wood lath are much harder than drywall, so self-tapping anchors are often defeated by plaster. Not only that, but attempting to drive a self-tapping anchor into plaster without pre-drilling a hole can crack the surface of your plaster wall.
Use methods for how to tell if walls are plaster before using the anchors below.
5 Best Anchors for Plaster and Lath Walls
Because drywall anchors fail in plaster walls, many have erroneously claimed that plastic anchors won’t work on plaster. This simply isn’t the case. If you avoid drywall anchors and self-tapping anchors, you can choose a plastic anchor that works well for plaster walls. Alternatively, there are metal bolt designs that work as excellent anchors in plaster.
Drywall anchors won’t work on plaster, but expansion anchors designed for masonry will. Often, these plastic anchors are blue in color. This type of anchor is meant to expand to grip hard, brittle masonry, which has a consistency similar to plaster. These anchors won’t pull out of your wall.
- These plastic anchors are designed for use in masonry, making them suitable for plaster walls.
- Unlike drywall anchors, masonry anchors won’t pull out of plaster.
- Expansion-type masonry anchors can suspend up to 20 pounds (9 kilos) per anchor.
For a quick fix for hanging items on plaster walls, masonry anchors are the way to go. They’re inexpensive, available everywhere, and get the job done right.
- Perfect for pre-positioned and push-through installation.
- Provide a flush and clean appearance after easy installation.
- Kit includes everything you need: self-tapping screws, anchors, and drill bit.
Specialized Plaster Anchors
In order to combat the issue of plastic anchors pulling out of plaster, some manufacturers make anchors specially designed for plaster walls. These anchors work similarly to masonry anchors, but contain two different materials, allowing them to better expand and grip plaster walls.
- These anchors are designed to hold firm in plaster walls.
- Plaster anchors are often versatile enough to be used in drywall, but not vice versa.
- Plaster anchors can hold objects that weigh up to 20 pounds (9 kilos)
Because plaster anchors are designed to hold up for use on tough materials, they can often also be used on drywall surfaces. If you still need to identify whether your walls are plaster or drywall, you can use plaster anchors throughout your home.
- You can use on drywall, plaster, block, brick, and concrete.
- High-quality material offers increased performance.
- Top-rated feedback.
Rather than use plastic anchors to secure items to plaster walls, many opt for using toggle bolts. These all-metal bolts are threaded onto a pair of metal wings that fold in one direction. To use them, drill a hole and insert the bolt. Once inside the wall, the wings on the bolt will expand and brace against the back of the plaster and lath. This is an extremely secure option for anchoring in plaster walls.
- These toggle bolts are a heavy-duty alternative to plastic anchors.
- Pre-drill a hole through plaster and lath, then insert the toggle bolt until the wings of the toggle unfold and brace against the back of the wall.
- Some toggle bolts can be used to hold items up to 40 pounds (18 kilos).
In order to increase the security of toggle bolts in plaster, insert the bolt so that the wings of the toggle point straight up and down (toward the ceiling and floor). This allows the toggle to brace against two different pieces of lath, rather than putting the strain on a concentrated area of your wall.
- Includes 3 sizes of toggle bolts: 1/8, 3/16, and 1/4 inches.
- Smooth surface for a seamless installation.
- High-quality for long-term use.
Similar to toggle bolts, molly bolts are an all-metal alternative to plastic anchors that work excellently for plaster. A molly bolt is a bolt with a metal sleeve around it. When inserted into a pre-drilled hole and tightened, the sleeve around the molly bolt expands to form a three-point anchor that braces against the back of the plaster and lath.
- Use these molly bolts as anchors in plaster walls.
- As with a toggle bolt, pre-drill a hole and insert the molly bolt, then tighten.
- When tightened, the sleeve on the molly bolt will bend to form a tripod-like brace against the rear of the lath and plaster.
- Molly bolts can be used to hang items up to 20 pounds (9 kilos)
Because they are easy to install and you don’t have to worry about selecting the right type of molly bolt or toggle bolt, they are foolproof options for hanging items on plaster walls. Buying a braced bolt such as this eliminates the need to hunt for the right plastic anchor.
- High-quality, heavy-duty molly bolts.
- Kit includes 6 sizes of molly bolts.
- Provides strong bearing capacity and safety.
In many cases, you can hang items on plaster walls without using anchors at all. Several alternative products including plaster hooks, picture rails, and adhesive hooks are effective for plaster. If you are hanging picture frames on plaster walls, it’s worth exploring these alternatives to wall anchors.
- There are many alternatives to traditional wall anchors for plaster walls.
- Picture rails, plaster hooks, drywall hooks, and adhesive products can all work as substitutes for wall anchors.
- If you are driving screws into wall studs, no anchor is required.
If you are hanging items on your plaster walls using screws set into studs, you don’t need wall anchors at all. Simply pre-drill a hole through the plaster and lath, then drive a screw directly into the stud.
How Do You Anchor into Plaster Walls?
It’s essential to always pre-drill into plaster before attempting to insert any screws, anchors, or bolts. Plaster is brittle and easily cracked by recklessly driving in nails or screws. To prevent this:
- Put a piece of painter’s tape on the wall at the point where you wish to set your anchor.
- Make a mark on the tape at the spot where the anchor will be set.
- Drill through the tape and into the plaster. The tape will help prevent surface cracking.
- Make sure you drill completely through plaster and lath.
- Remove the tape.
- Test your anchor for fit. It should be firm but not too snug for the anchor to be lightly hammered into place.
- Drive a screw into the anchor.
With these quick steps, you’ll have your anchor and screw in place in a plaster wall. Just remember, the most important rule with plaster walls is to always drill a pilot hole.
Do You Need an Anchor for Plaster Walls?
If you are not screwing directly into a stud behind your wall material, you must anchor your screws into a plaster wall. Unanchored screws will pull out of plaster, damaging your wall and causing whatever decor you have suspended to fall. The best ways to anchor items to plaster walls are:
- Avoid products sold as drywall anchors or self-tapping anchors.
- Use masonry anchors, also known as “expansion anchors.”
- Choose a plastic anchor specifically designed for plaster.
- Use toggle bolts instead of plastic anchors.
- Try molly bolts as another heavy-duty option for anchoring items to your plaster wall.
- Consider alternative plaster hanging techniques, including plaster hooks and adhesive.
By avoiding drywall-specific products and choosing anchors you know will work securely with plaster, you can avoid guesswork and catastrophe. With the right anchors, you’ll have no worries about hanging decor and picture frames on plaster walls.