Plaster was the construction standard up until the 1940s, when drywall burst onto the market. Before then, it was a popular choice for wall construction given its pliability, fitting around corners and in small spaces where materials like brick couldn’t. Its malleability comes with a downside, though, as plaster can’t hold much weight—things like, you know, your flat-screen TV and floating shelves—as the material tends to crumble under pressure. But there are ways to hang items on plaster without crumbling the walls.
How to hang your things on plaster walls
If you’re only hanging pictures or other items weighing 30 pounds or less, plaster hooks will do, as they’re angled to evenly distribute the items’ weight. These particular hooks don’t need anything other than measuring tape and a hammer; however, AS Hanging Display Systems warns against using plaster nails, which tend to cause cracking.
If you’re hanging something like a television mount, make sure you find the stud in your wall first. Purchasing a cheap stud finder is the easiest way to get it right. Then you’ll need two-inch screws, plastic anchors, a drill, and your drill bits. Using painter’s tape for marking and drilling can help prevent crumbling and cracking while you screw into the walls. This video from eHow at Home offers a great example.
How to drill into plaster walls
To prevent cracking and crumbling you’ll need to pre-drill holes for your screws, and you can start by taping down a strip of blue tape before drilling holes into the wall—it’ll help make clean hole without as much crumbling. Make sure your drill bit is the same size as your plastic anchor or just a bit bigger for a snug fit with the screw, then drill right into the blue tape. Push or hammer the anchor into that hole, and then you can screw right into your anchor.