I have a bathroom utility organizer I need to hang on a plaster wall. The organizer is lightweight aluminum, weighs about 5 pounds, and will be holding fairly light items such as toothbrush holders and bath towels.

Do I need to use anchors before installing screws and mounting hardware for plaster walls?

  • what are you considering as an alternative? That is, if we said "you don't need anchors" what would you do?
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 18:28
  • @Jay the bathroom is so small that I can't add any kind of cabinet, this has to be mounted in 1 spot on the wall. If you said no anchors needed, I would assume that I could just install a hanger with screws and just hook the organizer on to the hangers Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 19:00

2 Answers 2


A screw directly in plaster or drywall is not very strong. Over time it will work its way out and leave a hole in the wall.

It's OK to use a nail to hang a framed painting or photograph. If you do this, first put a piece of scotch tape on the wall, to resist cracking. Make sure the nail is angled 45 deg from vertical. You can pull the nail out when you're done and it will only leave a small hole that is easy to patch. (Many people don't patch, but you'll still see the hole when you repaint.) There's a limit to how much weight I'd want to put on nails in drywall, though - if it tears out, it's a mess.

There are a variety of drywall anchors that you can use for larger loads (see http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/inffastener/infanchor/infanchor.html for a good list). Most require you to drill a hole first. Be careful when you do this, because if there is wiring or plumbing behind the wall you could make a lot of trouble. Threaded anchors don't require drilling and are very easy to use.

For the most strength, screw in to a stud. I do this with towel bars especially, because I know people like to use them as hand-holds. Also, people yank towels from their holders, which puts a lot of strain on the wall.

  • Good link Jay. I am very partial to screw in anchors. In plaster, I always drill out the max diameter of the anchor a 1/4 inch deep to prevent chipping of the plaster surface. BTW, towels racks are not handicap assists. We gotta have a talk. LOL Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 0:30
  • For plaster and lath either use a Toggle bolt, or a Molly bolt. I've seen threaded drywall anchors used, but they always seem to fall out eventually when the brittle plaster around them starts to crumble.
    – Tester101
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 17:50
  • 2
    +1 for "People yank towels from their holders". I've seen many improperly secured towel racks ripped from walls.
    – Tester101
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 17:52

I'd recommend using the correct anchors.

While you don't plan on putting anything heavy on the organiser, one day you'll forget and then the whole thing will come crashing down.

It will also help if you slip and hang onto the organiser to stop yourself falling.

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