the hang of it
Next time someone
asks how they're hanging, tell 'em by an expanding plastic anchor.
This is the first
in a series of Frequently Asked Question (FAQs) that will run from
time to time and deal with the questions Frentz and Sons field, and
the answers, too.
Mike Frentz says
the customer FAQ topping his list is how to hang something on a
plaster wall. This is not a stupid question, particularly when dealing
with plaster walls, the subject of today's FAQ.
1. Toggle Bolt -
for dry wall and wet plaster
2. EZ Anchor &
Installation Bit - for dry wall only
3. Standard Plastic
for dry wall
4. Expand-it Anchor
for wet plaster only
5. Plastic Toggle
for wet plaster and dry wall
6. Molly Anchor -
for dry wall and wet plaster
(the longer one is for wet plaster)
first thing I ask - wet plaster or dry wall," Mike says.
"Wet plaster is a solid material that doesn't give and will take
pressure from an anchor that expands inside the plaster itself."
He was comparing
plaster to dry wall, which really can't use an anchor that expands
inside the drywall itself. Dry wall can be a whole different story and will be
covered in an upcoming article.
You can tell if
you have plaster walls a couple different ways. First, by the age of
your home. If it was built prior to around 1960, it probably has
plaster walls. Even that breaks down into two categories: Homes built
between 1900 and about 1935 have plaster walls on a wood lath - a
series of horizontal boards put up that, taken by themselves, would
look like Venetian blinds with spaces between each blind.
Homes built from
about 1935 to 1960 have plaster over metal or hardbord lath. The second way to
find out what sort of walls you have is to remove the access panel to
the bathtub plumbing and just take a look -- you'll see the difference
Plaster walls work
by applying wet plaster to either surface and forcing the plaster
through the open spaces, so it honeycombs the wall and grips.
"Otherwise it would be like spreading wet plaster on a plywood
board. - it might last for 5 years before peeling off. With wood lath or metal lath it's
on there," Mike says.
The secret to
hanging something properly on a plaster wall rests with the type of
pictures to the right) come in many different varieties. The thing you want
to do is take advantage of the strength of plaster, which Mike notes
is similar in many ways to wet cement when it's going on, sink the
anchor inside the wall itself. (With drywall, Mike says it's usually
best to get an anchor that goes right through the wall and offers
support from the other side by expanding to an open position.)
A toggle bolt is
an anchor with a small set of metal wings. The wings fold, and are
spring loaded. Which open when passed through the opening.
You insert the
anchor into the wall, and once inside the wings expand and give the
screw something to grip on to.
The Toggle Bolt,
in picture 1, is a good example of this. Picture 4 is another good
example of a plaster wall anchor, called the Expand-It Anchor.
Basically, it's a
plastic sleeve. After drilling a hole, you put the Expand-It Anchor
into the wall, and turn the screw into the anchor. "The screw
just makes it fatter - it stays right where you put it," Mike
Picture 6 shows a
Molly anchor - the shorter one is for dry wall, the longer for plaster
walls. The Molly is basically a screw with a metal sleeve. When the
screw is turned, the sleeve splits at the far end, forming wings to
grip the wall.
Drilling the hole
for any kind of anchor in a plaster wall requires a little special
care. "If you're drilling in plaster with a carbide tipped drill
and the drill bit hits the wood lath, it won't drill through it - instead,
it will push the lath away from the plaster." Without the lath for support, the
plaster just cracks away and falls leaving no support.
So this doesn't
happen, drill part of the way through with a carbide bit, then switch
to a high speed steel bit to continue through the wood lath.