How To Hang Shelves On Lath And Plaster Walls?(Follow these tips)

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Are you planning to hang shelves but don’t know where to start? Hanging shelves is a great way to make your home look more organized and stylish. But when it comes to hanging shelves on lath and plaster walls, the process can be more difficult than with other types of walls.

Fear not, because I am here with some tips that will make the job much easier. In this article, we will discuss the best way to hang shelves on lath and plaster walls.

From the right tools and materials to use to important tips for ensuring your shelves stay up, I’ve got you covered. So read on for our best advice for hanging shelves on lath and plaster walls!

What Are Lath and Plaster Walls?

What Are Lath and Plaster Walls

Hanging shelves on a lath and plaster wall may seem daunting, but with the right instructions, it can be surprisingly easy.

However, before starting, it’s important to understand what lath and plaster walls are.

The construction of lath and plaster walls involves laying out a series of wooden strips horizontally across the wall.

A series of vertical studs called laths connect the strips together.

On top of that lattice, a thin layer of plaster is applied, which forms the finished wall surface.

Builders usually use this type of wall construction in older homes, but they may also use it in some newer ones.

This type of construction requires certain tools and techniques to ensure a secure installation for your shelves so that they do not come loose from the wall.

The first step is to determine where you want to place your shelf and mark it with a pencil or pen.

Then you’ll need to use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the mounting screws for your shelf bracket so that they will fit in the pilot holes without stripping them or damaging the surface of the lath and plaster wall.

If there is not a direct hit when drilling into the wall, plastic anchors can be used to ensure secure mounting.

What Type of Hardware Do I Need?

What Type of Hardware Do I Need

To safely secure shelves on lath and plaster walls, you need specific hardware. You’ll need the following:

  • Long screws or lag bolts: These are the primary pieces of hardware that you’ll use to attach your shelf brackets to your wall. Make sure to select screws or bolts that are long enough to reach beyond the backing.
  • Wall anchors: These are essential for providing extra support for heavier shelving. Be sure to choose wall anchors that can hold more weight than you expect your shelves to carry, just in case.
  • Shelf brackets: Select shelf brackets based on the type of shelves you plan on hanging. Your bracket should be sturdy enough to carry your desired shelf weight and match the aesthetic of the room.
  • Studs (optional): If your lath and plaster walls have easily accessible studs, utilize them for a secure hold! Be sure to double check prior to beginning any installation project.

The right hardware is essential for a safe and secure installation process, so take some time to pick out the right materials before you start!

How Can I Tell Where the Studs Are?

How Can I Tell Where the Studs Are

When it comes to hanging shelves on lath and plaster walls, the most important thing is finding the studs so that you can properly secure your shelves.

But how can you tell where the studs are when you’re dealing with lath and plaster walls?

Drill Test

One way is to use a drill test. You’ll want to use a small drill bit, about 1/4 inch in size. Then, start drilling tiny holes in the wall that are evenly spaced out; you’ll want to start at the top of the wall and work your way down.

As soon as you hit a stud, move over a few inches and drill another hole until you have something that looks like a line of holes across the wall.


You can also try listening for where the studs are. Tap along your wall with a screwdriver’s handle or mallet, or use an electronic stethoscope specifically made for this purpose if you have one. When you hear it echo, then there’s probably a stud there, though this method isn’t always reliable.

Magnetic Stud Finder

And lastly, if all else fails, use an electronic magnetic stud finder, which can help detect the wood walls behind drywall or lath and plaster walls so that you know where it’s safe to hang your shelves.

How Do I Mark the Studs for Hanging Shelves?

How Do I Mark the Studs for Hanging Shelves

Hanging shelves on lath and plaster walls doesn’t have to be complicated.

All you need is a stud finder, a pencil, and a few handy tools to get started!

Here’s how you can easily mark the studs for hanging your shelves:

  1. First, use a stud finder to locate the wall studs. The studs will usually be around 16 to 24 inches apart, so make sure to measure accurately before marking the wall.
  2. Once you’ve located the studs, mark them with a pencil along the entire length of the shelf. This will allow you to drill into the wall and securely attach the shelf bracket or anchor.
  3. To add extra stability, use either heavy-duty wall anchors or toggle bolts in combination with standard screws for added strength and support.
  4. Finally, attach your shelf bracket or anchor directly into the wall stud by pre-drilling pilot holes for each screw or bolt before fully placing them in place.

By following these simple steps, you’ll have your shelves securely and safely hanging off of your lath and plaster walls in no time!

How Do I Hang the Shelves Securely?

How Do I Hang the Shelves Securely

Good question! When working with a lath and plaster wall, it’s important to take the extra step to securely hang your shelves. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Choose the right anchor

When it comes to hanging shelves on a lath and plaster wall, you don’t want to just use any type of anchor.

Plastic anchors may work for some lighter items, but they won’t provide enough security for heavier items. Instead, opt for wooden screw anchors that have been designed specifically for this type of wall.

Opt for screws instead of nails

The material in these walls is made up of narrow strips of wood covered in plaster, so while nails may seem like the obvious option, they won’t provide adequate security as they won’t grab onto anything solid. Screws, on the other hand, are much better at securing heavier items since they will grab onto the wood strips.

Drill pilot holes before installing anchors or screws

Drilling pilot holes into the wall before you install your screws or anchors will ensure that your shelves stay secure and don’t cause any damage to the wall.

It’s also a good idea to start off with small pilot holes and gradually increase their size until you find one that fits snugly around your screw or anchor head.

Are There Any Safety Considerations While Hanging Shelves on Lath and Plaster Walls?

Are There Any Safety Considerations While Hanging Shelves on Lath and Plaster Walls

Good question!  The thing with lath and plaster walls is that they’re more brittle and prone to damage than solid-wall constructions.

That’s why it’s important to take a few extra steps to ensure safety when hanging shelves on lath and plaster walls.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Avoid using screws or nails that are too long; this can cause the lath and plaster wall to crack or even break.
  2. Make sure you’re using the right tools for the job.If you need to drill into a lath and plaster wall, using a cordless drill with a masonry bit is your best option.
  3. To be safe, use an anchor if possible; these will help spread the weight of the shelving over a larger area, reducing the pressure on any one point on the wall.

When it comes to hanging shelves on lath and plaster walls, safety should always be your first priority, so take your time, use the right tools, and follow these tips to help ensure that you don’t accidentally damage your wall in the process!


Conclusion for hanging shelves in wall

Installing shelves on lath and plaster walls may seem like a difficult task, but with the right tools and a bit of patience, you can get the job done without causing any damage to your walls.

With the right wall anchors and the proper drill bit, you can install the shelves securely, and you never have to worry about them toppling over.

While you may not be able to directly drive a screw into your walls, you can use anchor screws and toggle bolts to provide a secure hold for your shelves for years to come.


How do I find the studs in lath and plaster walls to hang shelves?

Use a stud finder, magnet, tap the wall or look for clues like outlets.

What type of hardware should I use to hang shelves on lath and plaster walls?

Use toggle bolts, molly bolts or brackets designed for wall mounting.

How can I prevent damage to lath and plaster walls when hanging shelves?

Use appropriate hardware and techniques, avoid using long screws, and do not over-tighten screws to prevent cracking plaster.

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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.