Mounting 105: Know Your Wall Types

Figuring out what type of wall you’re dealing with is an integral skill for mounting. While our Elite taskers could never cover all the intricacies of residential construction here, they will give you a basic overview of the most common wall types you might encounter and what hardware you’ll need for each type. 

  • Drywall: Won’t be too flaky when drilled into.
  • Lathe & Plaster: Will be flaky when drilled into, and creates more dust.
  • Concrete: Sometimes, this type of wall is hidden underneath wallpaper or paint. To check, knock on the wall first. If it’s solid and hurts your knuckles, it’s most likely concrete. Remember, in order to drill into concrete, you need a hammer drill and special drill bits.
  • Brick & Masonry: Brick is relatively recognizable and usually will be exposed. That said, while it’s rare to have brick behind drywall, sometimes it does happen. If this is the case, your pilot hole will tell you instantly. To mount on brick and masonry, you should have a concrete drill bit.
  • Cinder Block: Falls into the masonry category, and in some cases, a toggle bolt can be used for this.

Tools you’ll always need to bring to a Mounting task, no matter the wall type, are a drill and a stud finder.  But keep in mind that not all wall types will work with a stud finder! Read on…

What’s in A Wall?

  • Walls are often built by hanging drywall or other surface material onto studs. Studs are vertically placed supports that are spaced roughly 16–24 inches (40–60 cm) apart.
  • Studs can be wood or metal. When it comes to Mounting tasks, the difference matters:
    • Wood studs are fairly easy to deal with. They are usually 2 inches (5 cm) wide, giving you a bit of leeway when it comes to finding the center point to drill into.
    • Metal studs are narrower than wood studs, and they also may require a bit more pressure when you’re driving a self-tapping screw.
  • Be extra careful to find the precise center of a metal stud before screwing into the bracket, as you won’t have much extra space on either side of the drill hole.
  • Drywall panel over wooden studs is the most classic wall type mounters will come across.
    • It’s most common in homes and buildings under 3 stories and in older buildings.
    • Studs are generally located in the corners of rooms and usually placed 16 inches (40 cm) apart.
    • Each stud is 1 ½ inches (4 cm) wide and 3 ½ inches (9cm) deep. Drywall is screwed directly onto the studs.
    • It’s easy to mount on this surface because you just drill straight into the wooden studs.

Elite Mounting Taskers agree that knowing your wall type is necessary to mount an item securely. Always know going into the task what wall type you’ll be working with, work with your Client to determine the best approach, and bring all the correct tools. If you don’t feel comfortable mounting in a particular wall type, make sure to include that information in your Skills & Experience pitch– that way you won’t have to forfeit a task later on. To learn more about what to expect when drilling into different wall types, read on to Mounting 106: Starting to Drill.

3 Thoughts

  1. The information above is incorrect: “Wood studs are fairly easy to deal with. They are usually 2 inches (5 cm) wide”

    Wood studs are 1.5″ wide (as stated below), unless it’s a very old building with ‘rough cut’ 2x4s. Metal studs are typically 1.25″ wide.

    Also regarding “they also may require a bit more pressure when you’re driving a self-tapping screw.” if something is heavy enough to require mounting to a stud, you should probably not screw directly into a metal stud. The metal is thin and especially if there is tension force pulling the screw out, there is very little holding it in place. To mount securely in metal studs, you need to drill a 1/2″ hole exactly in the center of the stud, and install a Snaptoggle (or similar toggle bolt) behind the metal stud.
    The best way to do this is to start with a small pilot hole , then use a 1/2″ bit to drill through the drywall portion, then use a metal step bit to drill most of the hole in the metal, and finally the 1/2″ bit again to ensure the hole in the stud is a 1/2″.
    As noted there’s not much leeway with metal studs, and studfinders are often not precise enough, so you may need to drill or poke small test holes to find the exact edges, especially for something critical like a heavy TV or a murphy bed.

Leave a Reply