I live in an Australian inner city apartment built in 2007. I want to attach a shelving unit to a wall but haven’t ever done this before, so I want to make sure to do it properly. I’m not sure exactly what the wall structure is, so I’d love to get some input from anybody that can help. I’ve taken off one of the electrical outlet covers and taken some photos; see attached. Can you tell much from this? What will be important when hanging up the shelving unit?

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  • vacuum out all the loose material. ... then look for nails or screws on inside of box, where it is nailed or screwed to a wall stud. .... the gaps above and below the box may allow you to see inside the wall to determine where the studs are located.
    – jsotola
    Dec 29, 2017 at 3:16
  • Looks like you have some kind of plaster applied on some type of mineral substrate. Not strong enough for book shelves. There has got to be some type of structure in there some where. Find the structure.
    – Paul Logan
    Dec 29, 2017 at 10:42

2 Answers 2


Do you have an endoscope? If not it may be a cheap investment ($25 on Wish). You could run the scope into the wall cavity until you find a stud or other type of support member. I would not want to attach a shelf to anything without knowing what the material is so that I could use the correct anchor, and where the studs/support members are so that I could possibly attach one side of the shelf to it.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Jan 9, 2020 at 19:54

You should not attach shelving or anything weighing more than about 3 pounds to a wall.

You need to locate the framing members and screw into those. Normally electrical boxes are mounted on framing studs. In the United States studs are 16 inches apart.

  • 2
    I would agree if the load was larger than 3 lbs some sheetrock anchors are rated for 20-30 lbs, if this wall has expanded metal lath under the cement/ plaster the wall can hold many times that.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 29, 2017 at 14:45

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