There are several methods for hanging pictures, mirrors, and even TV mounts on your plaster walls without using nails. The best options are:
- Wood screws set into wall studs
- Anchored screws in plaster
- Adhesive Hooks
- Drywall Hooks
- Plaster Hooks
- Picture Rails
- Toggle Bolts
We’ll examine the best way to use each of these techniques, as well as how much weight they can hold. With these methods, you can decorate your plaster-walled home however you desire.
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How Much Weight Can Plaster Walls Hold?
The amount of weight you can hang on your plaster wall depends on the technique used. As a good rule of thumb, wall-hanging techniques that don’t screw into wall studs can hold up to 20 pounds (9 kilos). If you are hanging heavier items and drive screws into the studs in your wall, you can safely hang items that weigh 150–200 pounds (70–90 kilos).
- Plaster wall-hanging techniques that don’t rely on wall studs can hold up to 20 pounds (9 kilos).
- If you set screws into wall studs, you can hang items weighing up to 200 pounds (90 kilos).
- Determine the weight of your item before you choose a wall-hanging system.
It’s important to know how much the item you’re hanging on your wall weighs before you choose a method for your plaster walls. A small frame can be hung on a simple adhesive hook, but a wall sculpture or TV will require a heavy-duty hanging system.
How to Prepare Plaster Walls For Hanging Items
Once you have determined if your walls are plaster or drywall, it’s time to take the appropriate course of action for decorating. Plaster is much harder than drywall and is also more brittle. Hammering nails directly into plaster can create misshapen holes or crack the plaster. To avoid this, use the system below:
- Find a stud in your plaster walls. Since most stud finders won’t work on plaster, use this magnetic stud finder.
- Mark the place where the hole is to be drilled with tape. Drill through the tape and into the walls. This prevents the drill bit from cracking the plaster.
- Drill the hole carefully. For certain hooks or screws it may be beneficial to drill in at a slight downward angle, so the hardware you use acts as a hook.
If you are using a wall-hanging system that doesn’t require you to find a stud, you can skip the first step. For heavier items, you will need to use a magnetic stud finder. Most standard stud finders won’t work on plaster walls because plaster is thick and backed with wood. A magnetic stud finder identifies studs in plaster by locating the nails that hold the lath to the studs.
7 Best Ways to Hang Things on Plaster Walls Without Nails
Nails are not an ideal tool for hanging items on plaster walls. Not only is hammering a nail into plaster hard work, but it also runs the risk of cracking the plaster. After all that hard work, the hole in the plaster is often slightly larger than the nail, leading to a loose fit and falling decor. You can avoid all of these headaches by using the following techniques.
Wood Screws Without Anchors
When it comes time to hang an item that weighs more than 20 pounds (9 kilos), 2 1/2 inch wood screws are the best tool for the job. Use a magnetic stud finder to find solid wood in your wall. Then, use tape and an electric drill to pre-drill the hole for your screw. Finally, drill the screw into the wall, leaving 1/4 inch (6 mm) of the screw projecting from the wall.
- Set 2 1/2 inch wood screws into wall studs to hang decor weighing more than 20 pounds (9 kilos)
- Pre-drill holes through plaster and into studs before setting screws.
- A single 2 1/2 inch wood screw set into a stud can hold 80–100 pounds (35–45 kilos).
- Insert wood screws into multiple studs to hold extremely heavy items.
Keep in mind, one wood screw inserted into a stud can hold 80–100 pounds (35–45 kilos). For large items that span multiple studs, insert one screw in each stud. With the combined strength of multiple screws, you can hang items that weigh over 200 pounds.
Screws with Anchors
There are many cases where you want to hang an item where there is no wall stud. Never fear, your trusty screws are still useful here. You can hang decor up to 20 pounds (9 kilos) by pre-drilling a hole in plaster, inserting a plaster anchor, and then setting the screw into the anchor.
- Set screws into anchors to hang items where there are no wall studs.
- Anchored screws can hold up to 20 pounds (9 kilos)
- Pre-drill your hole, then insert this plaster anchor, followed by the screw.
- Do not use self-tapping anchors on plaster walls.
Avoid using self-tapping anchors on plaster. These are designed for drywall and will not bore through plaster. For plaster walls, you will need to pre-drill a hole and insert your anchor.
When hanging items 5 pounds (2 kilos) or less, there’s no need to put a hole in your plaster wall. Simply use adhesive hooks.
- Use these adhesive hooks to hang items under 5 pounds (2 kilos).
- Clean the area with rubbing alcohol and a washcloth before applying the adhesive hook.
To prep the area before sticking the adhesive hook to the wall, clean the wall using rubbing alcohol and a cloth. This will remove dirt and grime that may interfere with the effectiveness of the adhesive. Once the area is prepared and dried, set your hook and hang your item.
Despite what their name implies, drywall hooks can be used on plaster walls. These thin wire hooks work by entering the wall through a small hole and bracing from the inside. They can be used to hang items up to 20 pounds (9 kilos) where there are no studs.
- Use these drywall hooks, also known as monkey hooks, to hold decor up to 20 pounds (9 kilos).
- Drywall hooks can be used in sections of the wall where there is no stud.
- You will need to pre-drill a small hole in your plaster to insert the drywall hook.
When used in drywall, these hooks can often simply be pushed through the drywall by hand. That won’t work with plaster. You will need to set a piece of tape and pre-drill a hole before inserting the hook. The good news is, only a small hole is required.
As the name implies, plaster hooks are specifically designed to hang items on plaster walls. This may be cheating the “no nails” rule because a plaster hook is essentially a flat hook attached to a thin nail, but these are much more effective than your everyday nail.
- Plaster hooks can hold items up to 20 pounds (9 kilos).
- Pre-drill an angled hole to insert the nail portion of the plaster hook.
- Gently tap the nail into place until the back of the hook is firmly against the wall.
It’s important to note that plaster hooks are designed so that the nail is angled upwards, to better help it stay in a plaster wall. When pre-drilling a hole for the plaster hook, drill downwards at an angle for the most secure installation.
Picture rails are a beautiful and classic way to hang wall decor. They act like a molding strip around the top of the room. Cables run down from the picture rail strip, suspending wall art or mirrors at any height you desire. You can use a picture rail to create an entire wall of artwork or family photos.
- This picture rail can be used to hang several items on a single wall.
- Because picture rails are affixed to studs with wood screws, they can hold hundreds of pounds.
- Each hook on a picture rail can hold 20–25 pounds (9–11 kilos). Because most items are held by 2 hooks, you can easily suspend decor up to 50 pounds (22 kilos) from a picture rail.
Picture rails are a heavy-duty option. Affix the picture rail to the wall by setting screws through the rail and into your wall studs. This allows each picture rail to suspend hundreds of pounds easily.
Toggle bolts are like a screw and anchor all in one. By pre-drilling a hole, you can push the folding toggle bolt through the hole. Once inside the wall, the wings of the toggle bolt unfold, bracing against the interior of the wall. This system can easily hold up to 20 pounds (9 kilos) per bolt.
- Use these toggle bolts where there are no wall studs, to suspend items up to 20 pounds (9 kilos).
- Toggle bolts act as a heavy-duty screw-and-anchor system.
For many, toggle bolts are much easier to install and remove than traditional screws and anchors. They’re a great choice for going nail-free on your plaster walls.
How Do You Hang Things on a Plaster Wall Without Nails?
There are several ways to hang mirrors, art, photos, and TV mounts on your plaster walls without using a single nail. Drive wood screws into wall studs for items weighing more than 20 pounds (9 kilos). For hanging items up to 20 pounds without finding a stud, you can use anchored screws, drywall hooks, plaster hooks, or toggle bolts. For items 5 pounds (2 kilos) or less, use adhesive hooks. To hang multiple items on a single wall, consider using a picture rail.