I'm living in an apartment. So far I've put up 2 sets of curtains and had the same troubles with both attempts.

One set was over a sliding mirrored closet door (tacky!) and the other set was over a window. What's happening is there's something behind the drywall that's very solid and I can't seem to get my drill into it. In the last apartment, self-drilling anchors like a metal version of these did the trick but in this apartment they couldn't penetrate either. My first thought was some kind of stud, but I ought to be able to drill into wood, right? My next thought was perhaps the doors/windows had some frame that jutted into the wall for support, but the last set of curtains was 4" above the windows. I've never seen a window that had 4" of metal surrounding it.

What the devil could it be? Is this something common? How would you approach this?

  • 1
    Are you sure you have timber frame construction? There could be brick or concrete behind the drywall.
    – Niall C.
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 21:34
  • Were you successful at all in putting it up (sounds like you were, eventually)? How many holes did you have to make? Rarely, you'll drill a hole and end up on the head of a nail. It could be that there are quite a few nails used for the window header, and they happen to be where you're drilling, and you just got unlucky and hit many.
    – gregmac
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 21:47
  • What type of drill bit did you use? I find that a masonry drill bit doesn't go through wood very well, and equally a wood/metal drill bit will struggle (to say the least) with brick or concrete.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 23:00
  • I was trying to put up some shelves in my wife's office (at home) last year and had the same problem. I eventually gave up. Everywhere I tried to drill in that room I hit something solid right behind the drywall! No problems in any other rooms in the house that I've hung things up. Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 13:39
  • Get a powerful magnet and test the areas in question to see if there is steel there. Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 21:58

3 Answers 3


If there is wiring being passed through the studs at that level, then it is likely that the studs would have been protected with nail plate.

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  • +1 for the suggestion, but it doesn't sound likely in this situation.
    – Tester101
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 16:24
  • 1
    +1 Also used to protect plumbing when the hole is close to the edge of the stud.
    – SteveR
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 11:59

Are you sure the walls and headers are wood? It is possible if the construction is new, it is built with steel studs. Check with your landlord. If they are steel, you can pilot a hole with a titanium bit or use self drilling screws made for steel framing. It would be very unlikely to find wiring and nail guards that close to the edge of a window or door frame.

  • That's an interesting thought. I'll have to ask the landlord about it tomorrow.
    – OwenP
    Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 4:27
  • Note: If you decide to punch through, go slowly and inspect the hole often. Any sign of wood under the metal is suspicious. Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 15:24
  • 3
    what was the answer of the landlord!? it's a thriller :) i've already made popcorn. don't live me hanging... Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 18:10
  • Sorry, been really busy at work and haven't had the chance to stop by. I'll ask if anyone's around when I pay the rent tomorrow. I don't like leaving a question with no accepted answer. Plus, I've got two more sets of curtains to hang!
    – OwenP
    Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 16:14
  • +1 If the structure is masonry/concrete, then it's 90% rebar rod. Quite typical issue when hanging curtains, I had problems with these also. Remember, that there is a reinforced beam just over the window (to support part of the wall above). You shouldn't cut it. Just drill another hole, somewhere near, like 10mm (to front/back) if it is possible. Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 6:29

If you're drilling within about an inch of a corner, then the drywaller may have put a corner bead there to protect it from damage. A corner bead is installed over drywall (and then covered over with mud and/or texture), so if you're hitting metal within the first eighth inch of drilling, that's probably it.

I've been hitting metal around all of my windows; once I realized that corner bead was my problem, I drilled through it with the smallest drill bit I own. Wood screws will go through corner bead just fine once a pilot hole has been drilled.

Note that corner bead is very thin, to protect against everyday wear and tear, while nail plates that protect wires are thicker (at least 1/16"). If your small drill bit punches straight through the metal plate, then it's most likely a corner bead. But if your small drill bit takes some time to drill through the metal plate, then it's likely a nail plate and you should not be installing screws through it.

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