I need to start putting things up on the walls in our new apartment we've moved to and a couple of light duty things were easy enough but I have to put up some shelves and things now that are 20 pounds and more and I feel like I need to have a better sense of what these walls are made of. I saw online that peeking behind a light switch could be useful but you'll see in the photos that it was hard to see much. Some other holes where cables pass were more telling.

Sadly I don't know a lot about this, but I can tell you with the few holes I've made for light duty things like I said (a small mirror, a little kitchen shelf) the walls are really sturdy, they don't crumble like that cardboard-y drywall in modern apartments. I can also tell you these walls are all original from 1931 if that helps place the material. The drill holes were super clean, the wall feels about an inch thick and hollow behind.

So if any of you with more expertise than me could help me out with identifying the walls and then what my anchor options are. Most things will be 10-20 lbs but I do have a 35lb wood framed mirror that we'd like to put up again in this new place. A hardware store salesperson told me to use the anchors that are beige and drill themselves into the wall that you then screw into but I don't see how that kind would ever be able to cut into these walls.

Thanks for any advice!

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  • 2
    Looks like standard drywall to me. Hit studs or use good hollow-wall anchors.
    – isherwood
    Jun 21, 2021 at 21:15
  • 1
    35lbs isn't a big deal, even for drywall, especially if you use more than one fastener. Most things sold as "anchors" claim at least 50lbs of holding per piece. You might want to watch ProjectFarm's tests of different anchors to get an idea of what would work best and to calibrate your expectations.
    – dandavis
    Jun 21, 2021 at 21:19
  • There anchor for hollow walls. They are quite capable. I have used them to fasten shelves to the walls. Here is an example homedepot.com/p/…
    – Quoc Vu
    Jun 21, 2021 at 21:35
  • That video is super helpful. The thing is though, these walls aren't like that. At all. Those are like the ones in our last place where you can actually see them shredding like cardboard. Our walls feel more... plaster, I guess, in texture. They don't look like that at all when you drill into them. I'm fairly certain those drywall and stud anchors wouldn't get through our walls. Jun 21, 2021 at 22:09

1 Answer 1


If the place was built in 1931 then it is very likely the wall is lath and plaster which would also account for your thought that the wall feels about an inch thick. Drywall was invented in the 1910s but was not widely used until the 1940s.

You will still need to use some sort of anchor if not drilling into a stud as a screw into the wood lath will not hold very well as the wood is not thick enough.

Any anchor that flairs out when you put a screw into it should work well.

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