First, I'm not the handiest of men, but can usually figure this sort of thing out. I just moved into an apartment in Manhattan and we're wanting to mount shelves, desks, and televisions to the wall to make use of our vertical space.

Classic of knocking on the wall led to no definable progress. I haven't torn a hole in the wall yet, but from what i'm seeing our building is using a technique of filling the gaps between studs with this brown/pink clay substance to prevent spread of fire, which in turn means the hollow knock doesn't exist. (thanks Google)

Roommate pulled out this little magnet thing which should pop when finding nails, well that worked at corners but only there- the corners are using metal fittings.

Electronic stud finder, I purchased one with a standard mode and a deep scan mode. Our sheetrock is about 1.25 inches thick making it a little difficult for this device to work- in addition to struggling with that clay i'm finding everywhere.

Next I drilled at every 16 and 24 inches given that's the standard widths between studs (also did a hole -/+ an inch for margin of error).

that tell tale sign where the drill bit pops through the wall i've not yet had due to this clay filling..

Anyways, I'm humbly accepting defeat and seeking any advice.. thanks!

  • There is a good chance that there may not even be studs behind the dryway, but metal furring.
    – Edwin
    Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 1:52
  • When all else fails, ask the Super for advise. He or she probably knows the building. Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


The studs will likely be at 16" intervals from a corner, but that corner could be the corner of the building and not the room if you have a wall T'd with another wall. The first 16" could also be more like 15" depending on how the walls are laid out. There are several places you can check to give you more hints:

  • The first, and easiest is any outlets and switches. They should be attached to a stud in new construction.
  • The next is any trim around the floor or molding around the ceiling, which should be nailed at the studs. You may be able to see small bumps from any nail filler on these.
  • And the last method I can think of is to use a light at a sharp angle to see if you can notice bulges in the drywall at 8' intervals. Those are the non-beveled edges at the end of the drywall, and you should be able to notice them if the drywall was installed horizontally (frequently done, but not always).

Beyond those non-destructive options, and the stud finder that you've tried using, you're left with drilling test holes. I'd suggest making the holes close to the floor where they will be less obvious, but not so close that you're hitting the base plate of the wall (you need to be about 2" up).

  • 5
    I did the test hole method about a year ago to hang cabinets. Then about two months ago noticed some mold on my baseboard. After rippoing all the cabinets back out and removing all the drywall I found that I had punctured a drain pipe when I was drilling those test holes. Just something to be conscious of. Commented Mar 30, 2013 at 1:59

All right guys, here's the final word on this subject.

The contractor was doing a renovation of another apartment in my building so we went and spoke with them. I heard them pounding at the wall with a sledge hammer because they're changing wall locations as part of this remodel. What I saw was that the walls in this building consist of the structural brick, then some mesh and plaster with a few aluminum studs here and there. The dry wall is simply glued to this mesh in some manner.

So my goal of mounting a desk to the wall to create a standing desk (better ergonomics) or mounting a TV seem to be out of the question at this point.

Thank you guys for your feedback, making future note for future abodes.

  • Your plan is probably still viable. You should be able to just treat the wall like any other masonry wall and mount your stuff as such (using masonry screws or appropriate anchors). The only complication I can think of would be finding the joints without being able to see them.
    – Compro01
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.