How To Cut, Drill and Mount Anything to Your Wall

Mounting or hanging something on your wall seems to be a very straightforward task. However, behind those smooth walls can be a lot of things such pipes, electrical wiring and ductwork that might cause severe damage when cutting without a plan. Damaging these things will not only damage your home, but it will also cost you a lot of money for repairs. So to help you do this task, here are the things you can do to avoid damaging what’s behind your walls.

Step 1: Identify the Surface of Your Wall

First, you have to identify the surface of your wall and know what material you will be working on. Most houses will drywall, but some houses built before the 1950s will have lath and plastered walls which harder and thicker than drywalls. Determining the surface, you will work on is easy because you can feel the difference between drywalls and plastered ones. To make sure you can use a push pin to identify the surface of your wall, if it goes through the wall, then it is a drywall and if not it’s a plastered wall.

Step 2: Make Sure to Look for the Studs of the Wall

stud finderWhatever it is you plan to mount on your wall, whether it is a fixture, a coat hook or a flat screen television, your best option is to attach them to a stud. Studs are more stable, and they offer better support, but locating the studs on a plastered wall is a tough task. Since the fasteners used to attach the lath to plastered walls will throw off the stud finder. However, there is a way cheat your way on locating the stud on plastered walls, and it is by looking for the light switch. Most switches are commonly attached to the first stud next to the door frame because the box of the switch that holds its wiring needs to be attached to something sturdy. Most wall framings are set with studs for every 16 inches, so once you know where the first stud is, then it will be easy for you to identify where the other studs will he locate. Make sure to use a pilot hole to double check your measurement.

Working with drywalls is easier, and it will give you a few more options compared to working with plastered walls:

Use a device called “stud finder” to scan through your walls where the studs are located. This device will allow you to locate the centre of the stud or its edges, giving you an accurate result.

You can also use your knuckles to tap into the wall and observe the sound it makes. Solid sounds will mean a sturdy structure behind the walls and hollow ones will mean there’s nothing behind it. That way, you will determine the location of the studs behind your walls.

Another option is to run through a powerful rare earth magnet through your wall. It will stick to the parts of the wall where nails and screws are driven to. Not only that it will help you locate the wooden studs, but it is also a good way to spot the metal studs used for commercial buildings.

Step 3: Check for Wires, Pipes and Air Ducts Behind the Walls

Checking for air ducts, pipes and electrical wires behind the walls will be so much easier with a professional-duty stud sensor, where most devices have the settings to detect buried pipes and energised pipes. If you are going to work with a wall that has plenty of wires behind it, make sure to cut off the power from the main switch before drilling, cutting or doing any disruptive work on your wall. You can drill a hole through the wall between the studs and stop at the moment when the bit breaks through. Then you can poke a pencil or other probe through the hole before proceeding with the work. That way you will have an idea on what are things behind your wall. Another way to locate those pipes and wires is by looking in the attic or basement, from those locations, you can see where the pipelines and electrical lines run through the framings of the house, giving you an idea where they are located on the walls.

If you are working with an old house or walls crowded with plenty of pipes and wires and you have plenty of fixtures to be mounted on the wall. You can consider getting a cordless inspection camera kit such as DeWalt DCT410S1 or the Bosch GIC 120 inspection camera kit. It will allow you to see what’s inside your wall cavities and its wireless screen will provide you great visibility allowing you to locate those wires and pipes behind the walls.

Step 4: Use Screws Rather Than Nails

Screws are better than nails because they can be easily backed out when you encounter an obstruction, minimising damage to your wall. Use self-drilling screws with a large, flat washer head and coarse threads that are meant to bite into soft lumber rather than the drywall screws. Since they are easier to drive and the washer acts like a clamp that secures and distribute the force evenly while the screw is driven deeper. This technique works better compared to using the bugle-shaped head of drywall screws. Make sure to use the adequate length of screws, for most drywall jobs the 11/4 inches will be a great choice.

Step 5: Using and Anchor is Another Great Option

Whatever surface you are working with, the option of using an anchor will make it easier to mount anything to your wall. Using an anchor will allow you to mount something without attaching them to the studs of the wall. It will let you attach something on the hollow portion of the wall. With that said, here are the three option you can use to do it.

Alligator Anchor – This anchor works on almost all materials, from drywalls all the way tile over drywall and plaster walls. This works by drilling a hole with the same size of the anchor and by tapping it through the hole. Then driving the screw through the anchor and once the screw gets deeper, the anchor itself expands and opens like an alligator jaw to hold to back of the surface.

The Snaptoggles – This type of anchor is incredibly strong. It can hold up to 356 pounds in a ⅝ inch thick drywall or plaster. It works by drilling a hole into the wall, inserting the toggle and then pulling it tight against the back surface of the wall. Then after sliding the cap all the way to the wall surface, snap off the excess straps protruding the wall then drive the screw.
The Snapskrus – This anchor is very easy to use and strong. They are self-screwing and just drive your screw to it, and it will work its wonders.


Step 6: In Case You Hit Something

Once you hit something behind the wall, back the screw-up and don’t push it through. It might be your air duct, pipe or even electrical that may cause a lot of danger and damage. Back it up and try another spot. It’s better safe than sorry.

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Some Situations that You Might Encounter While Drilling, Cutting or Mounting to Your Wall

Once You Drill Through the Layer of Plaster and You Can’t Drill Any Further

In this case, the plaster is might be layered over a brick. If there is a dark powder on the tip of your drill bit, make sure to switch to a masonry drill bit use a masonry-screw anchor.

The Stud Finder Locates the Stud but When You Drill, You Hit Multiple Layers of Drywall

Most shared walls such as apartment complexes, condo units and townhouses use multiple layers of drywall for sound proofing, making the walls thicker. Use longer screws for this types of walls.

There are Buzzing Sounds Behind the Walls

In this type of situation, chances are you hit a beehive between the studs. The best action to do in this case is to stop your activity and call for an exterminator.