I just moved into a pre-war apartment in the Upper West Side, New York. I'm trying to install some wall shelves.

I don't know anything about the construction of this building, so I'm learning about it as I go. It's been impossible to find studs near where I need to mount (have yet to find a stud using a density or magnet stud finder), so I've resorted to anchoring in the "drywall".

After drilling a hole, I see that the drywall is over an inch thick, and after 2 inches my drill bit is hitting the building's stone exterior.

I'm not sure what kind of hollow wallboard this is. After some research, it sounds like it is probably lath + plaster, but it doesn't flake or crumble like plaster though. Either way, it is about 1.25 inches thick and doesn't give me enough room in the back for a toggle anchor to open up.

The question is: How do I appropriately anchor these shelves into this wall? Is there a type of anchor that supports thick walls like this, will support the weight of the shelves, and doesn't need a lot of space in the hollow part of the wall?

Shelf Specs:

  • Dimensions: 36" long, 5.5" deep.
  • They'll hold no more than 50lbs, most likely much less. Planning to put plants on them.
  • Shelf Brackets: 2 brackets wrap around the ends of the shelf. 2 screw holes per bracket. Image here

Thanks for your help!

up vote 0 down vote accepted

I think these screw in plastic drywall anchors would work. screw in drywall anchors

  • I was thinking this might be the answer. You think they'll be good enough though they say they're for 3/8"-5/8" gypsum wall? Thanks! – sbjluke Nov 19 at 3:57
  • They come in different sizes so get the largest. There are anchors for thick drywall that clamp onto the back side, but these require space behind the drywall to deploy the clamp. This situation might not have enough space. – Jim Stewart Nov 20 at 1:40

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