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Ok, here's the problem. I have a coat rack that was installed poorly by the previous owner, who firstly installed it upside down and then secondly didn't use any drywall mounts. It came right out of the wall. I purchased some toggle bolts and some dry wall anchors only to discover what I believe is concrete behind the drywall (the back side of the wall is the elevator shaft).

Given that I cannot damage the concrete (it belongs to the condo's common property), and all of the drywall hangers I've seen are either too long or rely on the backside of the drywall being open, is there any way to mount the coat rack safely?

Any attachment should probably be able to take at least 50 lbs of weight, given I live in Canada and it will be holding up to five winter coats, mitts, hats, scarfs and it has a shelf above it where I occassionally put books and the like. Also the coat rack only has two holes for screws.

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If the concrete is behind drywall, how will they ever know you "damaged" it? When you leave, just patch the drywall and no one will ever know any different. I think Bob has the right idea with Tapcons. –  Steven Aug 9 '12 at 13:12
    
You seem unsure if you are hitting concrete or not. I assume you have holes in the drywall already. Can you see on the other side? If you have drilled holes, what color is the sawdust? Lets make sure we're dealing with concrete and not something like a composite wood (grey plastic) or a tile backing (looks like grey drywall). –  Freiheit Aug 9 '12 at 14:53
    
Yes I'm quite unsure. The wall backs onto the elevator of a high rise apartment building. There could be concrete, but there could also easily be some other soundproofing layer. None of the holes I have are large enough to see into. All I can tell you is that it is most definitely denser than drywall. I'm assuming it runs the length of the wall because my stud finder shows the whole entire wall as a stud. And I can't drill into it with my 12$ power screwdriver or hammer into it (no I don't own a real drill). –  Jeffrey Van Alstine Aug 9 '12 at 15:44
    
"I can't drill into it with my 12$ power screwdriver or hammer into it" - Pretty clear sign that its concrete or maybe a metal firewall. Crazy idea, see if its metal. Your stud finder might report this as wiring, or you can get a stout magnet and check. –  Freiheit Aug 9 '12 at 16:26
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3 Answers

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To be sure of a sound attachment, you need to attach into the concrete. Anything else will almost surely fail. Plaster does not have the structural strength except where you can spread the load over a large area from behind the plaster, and even then it is iffy.

As suggested by others, to attach to the concrete, you can use tapcons, concrete expansion bolts, or expansion anchors that you put screws into. Any of these will make very small holes in the concrete and not compromise its strength. These holes could easily be filled when you leave.

SUPPLEMENT BASED ON COMMENTS: You need to know what you are drilling into if you go that route.

A very different approach would be to create what is basically a free standing rack and then fixing it lightly to the wall.

The existing rack could be screwed or bolted to the top of the face of 2 upright hardwood boards, maybe 1x3s, as tall as you need the rack to be. The bottom of those uprights would be attached to a foot extending out from the wall about 12 to 15 inches. A brace would be attached on a 45 degree angle from the far end of the foot to a spot on the upright about 12 inches up.

The braced feet will counteract the downward pull of the coats. You could even attach a flat board to the tops of the feet to make a shelf for shoes, etc.

This whole unit could then be screwed into the wall through the uprights into plastic anchors in the drywall. This is just meant to keep it from shifting, not supporting the weight of the coats.

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I'm just going to buy a free standing hat rack and patch the wall. Why didn't I think of that before? –  Jeffrey Van Alstine Aug 10 '12 at 14:12
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If you didn't have the drywall to contend with I'd suggest using wall plugs into the concrete, but those may not work for you. I'd probably opt for small expansion bolts put into holes drilled into the concrete, you can then use nuts to offset to the edge of the drywall. That will be able to take as much weight as you want.

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TapCon concrete screws would be minimal damage to the concrete, so I'd consider them first.

However, if you must not damage the concrete, then it's more challenging. My next recommendation would be to use a wooden backing that is vertically longer/higher than the coat rack. If your coat rack is 20cm high where it contacts the wall, then make your wood backing something like 60cm high. Then you attach the wood backing with construction adhesive and small/shallow drywall anchors around the perimeter of the wood. Then you paint the wood to match the wall, and finally attach the coat rack to the wood with two screws.

By spreading the load out over a larger area, you greatly reduce the stress at any of the individual fasteners.

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I don't have any experience at all with a hammer drill and given the complication of the 3/4" drywall in front and the fact I'm still not 100% sure it even is concrete, I don't think this is think this is a possibility for me at this time. I'd try and hang it in a different (less then ideal) location, but then I have to deal with metal stud, which may or my not be there (gogo stud finder and your consistent but non-sensical results). Probably I'll just throw the coat rack away instead of risking having to patch another high traffic spot (my touchup paint isn't an exact match). –  Jeffrey Van Alstine Aug 9 '12 at 14:17
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