I have a storage cupboard in which I'd like to put some shelves. No problem with brick walls as normally I'd just have wooden battens on 3 sides, srewed directly into the wall with rawlplugs, then just put some shelves between the battens. But I've never done this with stud walls. The cupboard's 90cm wide and 55cm deep. It's also the fusebox cupboard with some heavy duty metal trunking along one wall and a 4cm thick black insulated mains cable coming from the ceiling. So I'll need to buy a detector to make sure I don't go into anything.

I've seen some (allegedly) heavy duty plasterboard fixings which expand and grip into the cavity when you screw the screw in but there are different depths of fixings.

How do I know the thickness of fixing I need for the plasterboard?

Is there a UK standard that might be typical in a new build?

Should I try and get one of the battens mounted to a stud in the cupboard or would I generally be ok with it being supported on 3 sides and it being quite narrow and not too deep?

Are there any scientific ways to detect where the studs will be other than knocking on the wall?

  • BE CAREFUL WITH STUDFINDERS! They don't work too well through wood. You're working in close proximity to your main electrical panel. Go slowly and carefully.
    – Jason
    Apr 8, 2019 at 3:08

2 Answers 2


You must not support shelving with plasterboard anchors except when there are no other options. Plasterboard just is not that strong. It's important to locate the studs and attach the shelf supports with wood screws through the plasterboard and into the studs directly.

There are stud locators available for minimal expense, but they are not fool proof. One type works by locating the fasteners in the studs by magnetism. Since fasteners only occur intermittently, this is not the best method IMO. Another works by relative density, but is easily fooled by other masses in the wall and is confused by nearby metal. With all your power equipment, this type will not work well unless there is a section you can test that is free of confusing artefacts, such as near the floor level. You can typically assume the studs are reasonably vertical for their full length.

For determining adequate screw length into studs, I'm not sure of common UK construction practise, but you could assume most plasterworks to be from 1/2" to 1" thick. It's less critical for wood screws than plaster anchors to get the exact depth correct. For wood screws, ensure they penetrate into the stud at least 7 shank diameters depth.


Well originally my question wasn't about hanging a cupboard on a stud wall but about putting shelves up within an alcove/cupboard, with the shelves being attached on 3 sides rather than 1.

But after I thought about the materials and effort, I decided to just buy one of these for £13 from Ikea...

Much easier!

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.