How To Anchor Into Lath And Plaster? (Anchor confidently!)

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Are you looking to hang something on your lath and plaster walls? If so, then you’ll need to find a secure way to anchor it in place. Although it may appear difficult at first, anchoring into lath and plaster walls is actually quite simple once you understand the technique.

Lath and plaster are an older form of wall construction made with either wood strips or metal mesh called laths, which are nailed over studs and then covered with several layers of wet plaster.  While these walls are very strong, they can be a bit tricky to work with due to their age and delicate nature.

In this article, I’ll show you how to anchor into lath and plaster walls properly so that your artwork, mirrors, or other decorations will stay firmly in place.

With just a few simple tools, some easy-to-follow instructions, and a bit of patience, you’ll soon have your new decorations hanging proudly on your wall!

What Is Lath and Plaster?

What Is Lath and Plaster 1

If you’re taking on a project that requires you to anchor objects into lath and plaster walls, it’s important to understand what lath and plaster is.

Lath and plaster was used as an interior wall finish before drywall became the standard in the 1950s. A base made of strips of wood (commonly referred to as lath) is nailed onto the studs of a wall frame and then covered with several layers of wet plaster. Once dry, the surface is painted with a primer coat before you can paint it in your desired color.

Lath and plaster are known for being more durable and soundproofing than drywall, but they can also be difficult to work with due to their hard surface.Knowing how to correctly anchor objects into this type of wall will make sure your projects hold up long-term and look great!

What Tools Do I Need?

What Tools Do I Need

If you’re considering anchoring into lath and plaster, you’ll need some specific tools for the job. Here’s a helpful checklist to make sure you have everything you need:

  • Power drill—for making the holes in the lath and plaster.
  • Drill bit set—for drilling through different materials such as wood, metal, and stone. Some drill bits are specifically designed for lath and plaster, so they might come in handy here.
  • Hammer—to help drive the anchors into the wall.
  • Level—to make sure everything is properly aligned.
  • Anchoring material—make sure to choose one that is suitable for use with lath and plaster walls.

Once you have all of these tools on hand, you’ll be ready to start your project! Make sure that each step is done carefully and according to instructions so that your anchor will stay firmly in place for years to come.

How to Find Wall Studs in Lath and Plaster Walls

How to Find Wall Studs in Lath and Plaster Walls

If you want to hang something on a lath and plaster wall, you must first identify the studs within the wall. It’s not as easy as it sounds because lath and plaster walls are made from very thin sheets of wood and a thin coating of gypsum. But if you know where to look, you can make your task much easier.

Here are a few tips to help you find the studs in your lath and plaster wall:

  1. Invest in a stud finder – A stud finder is specifically designed to detect changes in the thickness of the wall, which will indicate where the wooden boards run inside.
  2. Check for electrical outlets – Take note of any electrical outlets in the area and mark them on a plan. The outlet boxes are typically screwed into wooden studs, so you can use them as anchors.
  3. Measure 16 inches from the side. If there is no outlet nearby, then measure 16 inches from either side of an apparent crack or opening in the wall. Studs are typically spaced 16 inches apart, so this is a good way to narrow down your search area.
  4. Knock on the wall – You can also try tapping on the wall until you hear a solid thud which indicates that there’s something solid beneath that particular spot.

Once you’ve located the studs behind your lath and plaster wall, all that’s left is to drill and secure your anchors in place!

The Different Methods for Anchoring Into Lath and Plaster Walls

The Different Methods for Anchoring Into Lath and Plaster Walls

When it comes to anchoring into lath and plaster walls, there are a few different methods you can use—each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to weigh each option depending on your project.  Here are 4 of the most common methods:

Plaster Anchor Screws

Plaster anchor screws are designed specifically for use with lath and plaster walls. These screws are made from high grade steel, allowing them to be driven into lath and plaster surfaces without damaging the material during installation. They feature a wide-flared head, making them great for anchoring light fixtures or attaching shelves directly to wall surfaces.

Steel or Plastic Wall Anchors

Steel or plastic wall anchors are great for thicker materials such as wood or metal that you may be anchoring into your lath and plaster walls. By drilling a pilot hole in the wall first, then inserting the anchor and hammering it into place, they provide a secure base to attach whatever material you need to hang or secure.

Molly Bolts

Molly bolts also work well with lath and plaster by expanding against both sides of the wall cavity when tightened. This creates a strong hold that lets them support heavy items like mirrors and picture frames with ease. Assess needs before buying steel or plastic Molly bolts, and use drill and screwdriver to install.

Hammer-In Anchors

For heavier items such as filing cabinets where more security is needed, hammer-in anchors are an ideal choice for lath and plaster walls. Hammer-in anchors create an expandable fastener within the wall cavity, much like molly bolts do.

Fastening Options for Lath and Plaster Walls

Fastening Options for Lath and Plaster Walls

When it comes to fastening something into a lath and plaster wall, you have a few different options available. Let’s take a look at a couple of them and their respective benefits.

Anchoring screws

Anchoring screws are one of the most reliable fastening options for lath and plaster walls. They provide a very secure anchor point that can hold up for years without any problems. The key is to select the right size screw for the job and to make sure to use the appropriate drill bit to pre-drill the hole. Otherwise, you run the risk of cracking the plaster or having a weak hold.

Plastic anchors

Plastic anchors are also an excellent choice when anchoring into lath and plaster walls. They are comparatively inexpensive, easy to install, and will hold up extremely well over time if installed correctly. Additionally, they don’t require any special tools or drilling which makes them a great choice if you’re short on time or simply don’t have access to specialized tools.

When it comes down to it, anchoring into lath and plaster walls doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming if you know what kind of fastener to use. Both anchoring screws and plastic anchors provide reliable anchor points that can be installed quickly without needing any special tools or skillset—so you can get back to whatever project you’re working on in no time!

Tips and Warnings on Working With Lath and Plaster

Tips and Warnings on Working With Lath and Plaster

If you’re working with lath and plaster, it’s important to keep in mind a few tips and warnings.  Here are some things to consider before getting started:

Choose the right screws or anchors

When anchoring into lath and plaster, you need to choose the right screws or anchors. Make sure that the screws or anchors you use are rated for the weight of the load that you’re hanging. If you’re hanging a heavy load, use an anchor that can handle the weight.

Avoid over-tightening

When securing your mounting hardware into the lath and plaster, make sure not to overtighten it. Over-tightening can cause damage to both lath and plaster, as well as weaken any existing anchor points in the wall. Be sure to check for any signs of loose walls before continuing with your project.

Consider alternate methods for heavier loads

ggle bolts or strap anchors with eye bolts are ideal for heavy loads.. These methods provide more stability than screws and require less precision when drilling into walls made of lath and plaster.

Following these tips will help ensure that your project goes smoothly when anchoring into lath and plaster. Good luck!


Conclusion for how to anchor

In conclusion, anchoring into lath and plaster can be tricky. Consider wall structure, anchor type, and screw size for successful installation. Plan and research before starting for best results.

Patience and right tools help anchor into lath and plaster. Just remember, no matter what you’re mounting, always use the right anchor and screw for the job and have an extra hand to help you get the job done. With the right preparation and a little time, you’ll be able to safely anchor into lath and plaster.


How do I anchor into lath and plaster walls?

Drill a pilot hole, insert a plastic anchor, and screw in the fastener. Use the appropriate size and type of anchor.

What if I can’t find the lath?

Use a stud finder or small nail to locate a solid backing. Mark the location and drill.

Can I use adhesive instead of anchors?

Adhesive may not hold well, so it’s not recommended for heavier items.  Use anchors for secure hanging.

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About Charlie D Paige

Charlie is a massive DIY fan, with dozens of DIY projects under his belt - ranging from tiling to electrics, and concrete pads to walls. Charlie loves tinkering, seeing how things works, the outdoors and playing with power tools... so is it any wonder that he's completed so many DIY jobs over the years?

Charlie loves spreading his hard-won DIY experience with the world via this blog.