I am trying screw in a 2 1/2" screw into a wall that I'm pretty sure is plaster and lath. But when the screw is about 1 1/2" deep of drilling, it doesn't go in anymore no matter how much force I put in. From a stud scanner, the area should be where a stud resides. I'm using a 20V DeWalt driver.

Has anyone seem such problem?

  • 2
    Found a nail, conduit or a pipe? Apr 6, 2015 at 5:02
  • 3
    Or a nailplate covering one of those. Or possibly you've got bad enough luck that you're trying to drive a screw into the head of another nail or screw.
    – William S.
    Apr 6, 2015 at 5:05
  • Is this a wood framed wall? If you've got drywall attached to furring strips on a concrete wall, you'd likely have difficulty driving the screw through concrete.
    – Tester101
    Apr 6, 2015 at 9:57
  • The house is built around 1920's, not sure if nail plates are use back then. Also, this seems to happen along the entire vertical of the wall (I thought it was where the stud is). This is inside a room's closet and the wall is a perimeter wall.
    – Aion
    Apr 7, 2015 at 5:24
  • You might be hitting a knot. Have you tried an impact driver?
    – Doresoom
    May 21, 2015 at 14:11

2 Answers 2


Best case is you've probably hit a concrete structural wall. In that case use a hammer drill and cement screws or anchors if you really need more support than you get from the 1.5" in front of it.

Worst case is you're hitting a conduit or water pipe, in which case thank goodness you haven't managed to puncture it.

I'd look for a work box or some access where you might probe the wall to determine what's back there. If it's the former case you'll see that. If you don't see a cement backer then carefully drill probe holes around where you were trying to screw and see if you end up to one side of the thing you shouldn't be hitting.

  • This is inside a closet, and the wall is a perimeter wall of the house. The house is built around 1920's, so it's unlikely to be concrete?
    – Aion
    Apr 7, 2015 at 5:25
  • Yes, but it could very well be a brick or block wall. You should be able to tell what your exterior walls are made of by examining from the basement or attic. You could also use a split-point screw or drill bit to try to sample what you're running into. If it's block the tip will come back with a bit of powder around the tip (gray for regular block, black for cinder block, or maybe something reddish for brick).
    – feetwet
    Apr 7, 2015 at 12:28

I have a 1920s house with oak framing - all of it. This could be what you have as well.

The oak is hard as a rock, which makes nailing is almost impossible. I have to drill a pilot hole. I also had to buy a heavy duty drill. And yes, there are nail heads EVERYWHERE.

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