Types of walls
There are two types of walls, plaster and masonry, and there are different fixings for each. Interior plaster walls are built using sheets of plasterboard attached to a timber frame, leaving a cavity behind the plasterboard. The vertical parts of the timber frame are called studs and are the strongest place to hang things from.
Masonry walls are made use bricks or blocks. They either have the bricks exposed or covered with cement render, which is a smooth finish.
Hanging a picture
In plaster walls, items under 4 kilograms can be hung using picture hooks. The small nail that comes with the hook is driven into the wall on a downwards angle, so it’s less likely to pull out. For slightly heavier items, use a fixing called a Wallmate. It screws into the plasterboard and you then screw into the Wallmate. There are various sizes to suit different weights up to around 10 kilograms.
In brick walls, you’ll need to drill a hole with a masonry drill bit and insert a tap in wall anchor, which is a nail encased in a plastic sleeve. Slip the anchor through a hook before you tap it in.
Putting up a shelf
In plaster walls, the strongest solution is to attach shelf brackets directly into the timber wall studs using normal wood screws. To find the studs, tap along the wall until the hollow sound changes to one that is more solid or use an inexpensive stud finder. If there are no convenient studs where you want to put the shelf, use a heavier duty cavity fixing such as a spring toggle or Super Wallmate.
In brick walls use wall plugs. These are coloured plastic plugs which you tap into a hole drilled in the wall and then screw into. The size of the plug and the corresponding diameter of the drill bit you’ll need is determined by the thickness (or gauge) of the screw.
Heavy duty hanging
In plaster walls, to hang the heaviest items, you will have no choice other than to go into the timber wall studs.
In masonry walls, you have more options. Dynabolts are expanding sleeves that go into a hole drilled in the wall. The nut on the end is tightened, pushing the sleeve out to grip the wall. If the wall is made from extruded bricks (the type with lots of holes in the middle) Dynabolts may not work. In this instance use heavy duty masonry screws. Use galvanised fixings if it’s outside as they won’t rust.