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Just moved in to an old victorian home and the wife wants shelves in the mud room. Now I know what you are thinking "Shelves?! Seriously?!", Just hear me out.

These are 6 foot shelves with 4 steel gussets each. It's laundry room shelves so they will most likely hold liquids. I figure, 10-20 lbs per linear foot.

I started out be knocking and looking for studs. No luck, not that I'm very good at it anyway. I found a sheetrock seem above the doorway about 8 feet away. I measured over 16" and drilled to see what was underneath. Just sheetrock. Lots of it. I drilled a couple of test holes in the sheet rock beneath the height of the washer/dryer (the shelves will be above them). I only hit sheetrock. Once again, a lot of it.

Next I noticed that there was a 1/4 gap between the floor and the poorly installed trim. After looking at what I'm up against, it appears to be a rotted and crumbling plaster and lath wall, with a sheet of something that appears to be a thin layer of MDF and covered by plaster, covered by 1/2" sheetrock.

My first long shot of a hope what that I could sink a 3" decking screw deep enough to hit the MDF-ish stuff. If I hit it, it still wasn't holding.

Next I tried 3/8" toggle bolts. The longest screw I could find was not long enough to allow the wings to clear the wall.

Finally I gave in and tried 150lb plastic anchors but I couldn't get them to hold. Honestly I wasn't surprised.

I've had problems like this before in older houses and I considered hanging a piece of 3/4" waferboard first, but with all the trouble I had getting anything to hold I'm actually worried about the wall supporting it.

Any recommendations?

  • Why do the shelves need to be wall supported? There are a variety of free standing shelves. They prefer you strap them to the wall near the top but that isn't nearly the stress load of angle brackets. – Harper Oct 5 '18 at 2:09
  • But that doesn't really solve the problem since I can't attach anything to the wall. Also, this is a mudroom, very small. I doubt I have three feet of egress between the washer and drier and the other wall. If I installed a floor mounted shelf I would be down to two feet of egress and probably wouldn't be able to open the back door all the way. – mreff555 Oct 6 '18 at 12:53
  • Who cares? I rented for 20 years without being able to attach anything to walls, and I lived to tell the tale, if anything it gave me more flexibility of mind. Don't be stubborn and anti every idea. You pick shelves that can reach around/over the washer/dryer, i.e. in the manner of shelves that go over toilets. There are no lower shelves, the W/D occupy that space. If you can't buy them, build them. – Harper Oct 6 '18 at 16:01
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See my answer for this question.

How do I properly mount hardware to a wall covered in AirStone?

Those anchors will give you the depth and the strength that you need. I would consider using the shelving that has a mounting bar that mounts at the top of the wall and then the shelf standards all hang off of that bar.

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