How to hang something on a hollow wall

Sooner or later everyone runs across the problem of fastening something to a wall inside the house. Though the first impulse may be simply to drive a nail into the wall, this seldom proves a satisfactory solution. Since interior walls are usually hollow, the nail merely breaks through into empty space-leaving you with little more than some cracked plaster and a useless hole for your trouble.

To provide a more satisfactory solution to this problem, there are many special wall fasteners that can be used. Regardless of the size or weight of the fixture being hung, chances are there is a fastener available which will do the job. The load that can be supported is limited only by the strength of the wall material itself.

For light-duty jobs, such as hanging small pictures and decorative plates, there are hangers available which can be cemented in place against the wall. Some of these come with a separate liquid adhesive, while others are adhesive-backed. Since this type of device sticks to the surface only, it is limited by the strength of the surface coating ( paint or wallpaper) which is already in place on the wall.

When greater strength is needed to support pictures, small mirrors or decorative shelves, picture hooks which hold nails at an angle are often used. These are simply driven into the wall with a hammer, and they come in various sizes to support objects up to 35 pounds. The hooks are designed so that they hold the nail at the proper angle to provide the greatest holding strength in either plaster or gypsum board. To keep from cracking the plaster while hammering these fasteners in place, stick a wide strip of tape over the spot where the nail will enter.

For maximum holding strength in all types of hollow walls, expansion-type toggle bolts or anchors should be used. These fit into holes which must be drilled in the wall beforehand. They have expanding wings or ribs which open up behind the wall when a bolt or screw in the center of the unit is tightened. Three types are widely available: toggle bolts, which have spring-operated folding wings; expansion-type screw anchors, which have metal sleeves that spread out behind the wall when the bolt is tightened; and anchors or plugs, which may be made of lead, fiber or plastic. The last type takes standard wood screws or threaded nails. The plastic anchors are designed so that they split when a screw is inserted, thus spreading out to grip firmly behind the wall, as well as inside the hole.