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Hanging Decor on Plaster Walls

Hanging Decor on Plaster Walls

Plaster is a great decision when building a home. After the build is completed and you’re all moved in, you’ll probably want to decorate those plaster walls. But what’s the best way to go about this?

The “problem” with plaster is that you can’t just tap in a nail long enough to reach a stud. This isn’t as simple as hanging a heavy picture on drywall. Plaster is a hard surface, and pounding a nail into it could crack it or disengage it from the lath that holds it in place.

But it’s easy eliminate these risks with plaster walls. Just pre-drill the hole first. Use a bit slightly smaller than the nail, and drill at an angle so the nail will function like a hook to hold whatever you’re hanging securely.

Screws (and screws with masonry anchors for heavy items) are the best choice for hanging things on plaster walls without picture rail. For lighter items, screw into the plaster with a 1 1/4” drywall screw. This process is usually enough to get the job done.

You can generally get better security for your decor if the screw hits the wood lath behind the plaster for a little extra holding power. This helps to make sure your items stay hung. If the screw starts “grabbing” better, then you’ve probably hit the lath. If you miss, back the screw out and move the screw up (or down) about 1/2” and then you’ll find the lath.

Heavier items need more support. In this case it’s best to screw into a stud with a 2” screw. Remember that stud finders don’t work very well on plaster.

If you get stuck trying to hang something heavy and you can’t find a stud, you can use anchors. There are a number of anchors available at most home improvement stores, and they’re all rated by how much weight they can hold. Find one appropriate to your project and give it a try.

Anchors require use of bigger drilled holes, especially in older homes. A word of caution, avoid the drywall anchors that are made to be installed without drilling. These self tapping anchors don’t work on hard plaster walls. To put any anchor into plaster, you’ll need to drill first.

The most important thing with these projects is to remember that you should never drive a nail into plaster because it can break; screw into the lath to find a strong anchor; and then find the right screws to hold whatever items you’re hanging.