How to fix items to walls
Difficulty rating: Low
These tasks should be fairly straightforward, whether you have experience doing DIY or none at all.
Before you get started on any of our 'how to' guides, please take a moment to read through our DIY safety tips.
Do you need nails or screws?
- Usually you'll only need picture hooks for a picture or a mirror with a frame. These come in a range of sizes and are simply hammered into the wall. The nails will go into most surfaces including brick.
- But for a large picture or mirror with a heavy frame you'll have to put screw fittings into the wall. Shelves and curtain poles supporting heavy curtains also need screw fittings.
The right fitting for the right wall
- The type of screw fitting you need depends on the construction of the wall you're attaching an item to. The walls are likely to be plasterboard, brick or breezeblock.
- Tapping on the wall should tell you how it's constructed. A hollow sound suggests the wall is plasterboard. A solid sound suggests brick or breeze-block.
Check the wall before you drill
Before drilling, check there aren't any water pipes or electricity cables behind the wall.
For peace of mind use a detector to scan the wall. You'll hear an alarm if it finds anything behind the plaster.
Types of wall plugs
- You'll usually need to use a wall plug to enable the screw to grip into the wall. There's a wide range of wall plugs to match different screw sizes and types of wall.
- Wall plugs for brick walls create a very tight fit once the screw has been inserted.
- A universal plug is better for a lightweight block wall because it expands and digs into the soft block as the screw tights.
- Plugs for hollow plasterboard walls are designed to give additional grip as the screw tightens. If the hollow wall is supported by timber stud work, you may be able to screw directly into these timbers.
Drilling holes for screws
- For a plasterboard wall, make sure you choose the correct size masonry drill bit. You'll need to drill all the way through to the cavity. Don't push too hard on the drill or you could damage the wall as the drill goes through.
- For a brick wall, once again select the right masonry drill bit. Use a piece of masking tape to mark the length of the wall plug and to show how deep to drill.
- Set the drill to the hammer setting. Apply firm and steady pressure to your drill, making sure you're at right angles to the wall's surface.
- Once the holes are drilled, insert the wall plugs. They may need a light tap with a hammer until they're flush with the wall's surface.
Wear safety glasses or goggles when drilling as small pieces of debris may come away from the wall.
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