I’ve been installing curtains in my new rental (with approval!). I’m not a total novice but definitely lean towards that side. I was successful in two rooms, using a mix of drywall anchors and drilling into studs.

I started the final room just now, and am struggling with the center bracket. I assumed it would be over a stud, given the center one was over a stud in the other rooms, but a small testing hole I drilled went easily through so it seemed like drywall.

I thus tried the drywall anchors and things started to go amiss. One went in fine, the other one went in almost all the way but broke off. I just figured I’d screw it in anyway. But the screw in the broken off drywall anchor wouldn’t drill in much at all, and the on into the successful drywall anchor also wouldn’t go in all the way. No matter the force or drill vs. screwdriver - it stuck out about 1/2” or so (1 and 1/4” screw).

I’m a bit at a loss on what to do. The one thing I can think of is maybe this is exactly where prior curtains were? Not sure how that would impact things, but I know they filled some holes last week before I moved in and while I can’t clearly see marks, I could in other rooms and they were very similar heights. This is the exact place I need to screw in, though; any suggestions on how to rectify this?

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    I'm curious what kind of drywall anchors broke. I had similar sounding difficulty putting anchors into what I later learned were plaster + lath walls, but with a layer of drywall on top. If the curtains are light enough a simple wood screw in the lath will be able to hold a few pounds.
    – nmr
    Jul 25, 2023 at 22:00
  • (The ones I broke were the coarse plastic auger shaped ones.)
    – nmr
    Jul 25, 2023 at 22:01
  • @nmr mine were similar to this: acehardware.com/departments/hardware/screws-and-anchors/anchors/… Jul 25, 2023 at 22:03
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    If you are hitting something hard, it might be a "nailing plate" designed to protect something behind the plate. If that is the case, you do NOT want to drill through it. Nailing plates are designed to protect electrical wires or plumbing. Could there be either of those in this location? Jul 25, 2023 at 22:32
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    I am trying to make sense of the photo. Are you installing it on the ceiling ? Jul 26, 2023 at 1:31

2 Answers 2


I like @nmr's suggestion that this might be old-fashioned plaster applied over wooden lath. That isn't hard to drill through, but it's harder than modern plasterboard and I wouldn't be surprised if one of the screw-in plastic anchors broke during installation. If that's what you are dealing with, switching to another kind of anchor -- a toggle bolt, or one which expands behind the wall as its screw is tightened -- would be the most direct solution.


You might be lucky (NOT) to hit one of the metal ties they use on wood studs.

Use a drill much smaller than the anchors, and drill. Observe if metal comes out. The thickness of metal ties is not much but the drilling might be difficult.

Best choice is to use a drill just little bigger the then screw body (the inner part). Now try to screw into that, without breaking the screw. If it is too hard, drill a little bigger hole. The cross section would be, Drywall over metal plate over wood.

This assumes it is not a Water pipe, it is not electrical, nor it is gas pipe.

  • So the strange thing is I drilled with drill super easily - so hence why I thought it was drywall and not a stud. No metal. Do I try to repair the (now too large hole) with some toothpicks/wood glue and drill with just a nail (I’ve used this before to repair over a stud)? Maybe it was a stud? Jul 25, 2023 at 23:06
  • you might be right on the horizontal top plate/header such that the drill went though easily but the anchor is hitting wood. Angle the drill down a bit in the hole and see if it hits wood
    – redlude97
    Jul 25, 2023 at 23:48
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    @AliceLeigh if it was a stud (wood) the drywall anchors will not work. Yes you can do the repair.
    – Traveler
    Jul 26, 2023 at 1:18

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