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I'm trying to hang curtains from near the ceiling. I have 5 brackets. 4 of them have successfully been screwed into wood, at least with the top screw (the bottom screw was as a wall anchor into drywall, because the wood runs near the top of the wall). However, in one location (2nd from the left-most), there is metal instead of wood covering the part I want to screw into. It is very likely the metal is from our air shaft for air conditioning so I probably shouldn't mess with it. In the end I opted just to use two very short screws which only reach into the drywall. Of course an anchor is also impossible because the metal is just beyond the drywall. So on the 2nd-left bracket the only thing supporting it are screws into drywall. I was hoping maybe the 1st and 3rd brackets will cover for it. But I'm not so sure about this, because the curtains will be really heavy (14 feet across, with heavy end finials and 4 curtains total). The distance between 1st and 3rd brackets is about 7 feet and spans two curtains total.

Will it help to drip superglue onto the 2nd bracket?

How about a hackneyed improvised apparatus where I find a super long metal strip that extends to either side wood studs, and screw that in, in such a way that it presses the top of the bracket into the wall?

Is there such thing as a "shallow wall anchor" that is only 3/8-inch long and doesn't have to poke beyond the dry-wall? Because immediately beyond the dry-wall is metal.

Do I even need this 2nd bracket? (There's 7 feet and two curtains between brackets 1 and 3)

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    Metal plates are often placed behind drywall to shield electrical and plumbing from mis-directed screws and nails. Unless you're really sure what's back there, your decision to avoid drilling into the metal is a good one. – JS. Oct 22 '15 at 1:16
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Sounds like trouble to me. Superglue won't do you any good, as it's only as strong as what it's gluing to (and I suspect here it would be far less strong).

Some alternatives:

  • Cut away a square of drywall and replace it with the same thickness plywood, glued to whatever is behind (e.g. that metal). Then apply a thin coat of plaster, paint, and then screw into it
  • Find out just what that metal is, and consider screwing into it
  • If the curtains will generally hide that bracket, consider gluing a thin piece of plywood to the surface of the drywall and screwing into that
  • Thanks. How necessary do you think it is to even have that bracket? The surrounding brackets are 7 feet apart and there will be two curtains in that space. – pete Oct 22 '15 at 0:06
  • Omitting that bracket will put a lot of stress on the bracketing (sorry) brackets, as well as on the rod. If you trust both, then perhaps you'll be OK. – Daniel Griscom Oct 22 '15 at 0:09
  • Thanks. Assuming the 2nd bracket is not entirely necessary and just kind of a reinforcement for good measure, then drywall screws plus super glue, will still be better than drywall screws alone, right? – pete Oct 22 '15 at 2:28
  • Superglue isn't right for this application. Epoxy might help a bit, but you'd probably just tear the paper off the drywall when it broke free. – Daniel Griscom Oct 22 '15 at 2:52
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You might be overthinking this. How heavy are your curtains (plus all the associated hardware)? Attaching the whole thing to studs in just two places might be enough. And it's not clear from your description how the curtain hardware is designed. If the weight is spread among 5 brackets, then having 1 weak bracket shouldn't be a big deal.

Here's a simple idea: get a 3/4" wooden board, attach it above the window with screws through the drywall and into studs. Fill the screw holes, and paint it to match the wall (or however you like). Then screw your curtains anywhere onto the board. If you want it to look fancy, rout the edges of the board.

  • The wood board concept is a great idea. To make it more clear the idea is to have the board extend a bit beyond the full length of the curtain rod and fasten into all available studs. – Michael Karas Oct 22 '15 at 12:02
  • If a board is too thick for aesthetics, a nice sheet of 1/8" steel could be used to the same effect. – Wayfaring Stranger Oct 22 '15 at 17:26
  • @WayfaringStranger : drilling and tapping holes in 1/8" steel is not a trivial task. – Mike Baranczak Oct 22 '15 at 21:38
  • @MikeBaranczak True, but a 3/4" board might make that set of curtains look funny. Mild steel isn't all that bad, and at 1/8" it'd be thin enough so you wouldn't even have to run the piece the full length of the curtains, just to the nearest wooden studs on each side of the problem fastener. – Wayfaring Stranger Oct 22 '15 at 23:19
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Daniel has some good suggestions. If you are sure that you have 3/8 inch space before you hit the duct you might consider securing the bracket with a toggle bolt. For example, a 3/8 x 4" toggle bolt. If you cut the screw just short of hitting the duct it will secure the bracket. I guess you can't avoid moving the bracket left or right to miss the duct?

  • From the description, it sounds like as you drill into the wall, the first 3/8" is drywall, followed by metal: no gap for the toggle. (OP: perhaps you should edit your question to clarify.) – Daniel Griscom Oct 21 '15 at 23:15
  • I'm not sure there is much space if any between dry wall and the metal. The metal seems to span a significant length and moving the bracket too far to the left or right will have the problem of constraining the curtain coverage; it is supposed to be in the middle of the two other brackets so both curtains can have the same coverage – pete Oct 22 '15 at 0:09
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Before anything else, do you have even 1/2" or 1" of wiggle room, or does this bracket have to go in that exact spot? If so, you might want to probe just to the left and right of the spot you hit and see if you still hit metal. You might be right at the edge of the obstruction, you might even have just hit a nail or screw. I have uncanny luck with this, it's Great.

The plastic auger type drywall anchors

Plastic auger anchor

can easily be trimmed to just the thickness of the drywall (typically 5/8"). They ought to have most of their full strength - they don't depend on expansion for their strength. They come in two sizes, the larger ones should be strong enough. Just trim them to length and carefully screw them into the existing holes made with the screws. Buy a pair of 3/4" inch long screws, the right size (diameter) for the anchor.

Now these anchors are cheap, strong, and easy to work with, but one thing they are not is forgiving. If you don't get it right the first time, they generally make a mess if you have to take them out, the screw doesn't want to let go of the plastic and the drywall gets mangled. If that happens you're going to have to go back to the drawing board for a plan B.

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You may be able to use the metal to your advantage. Odds are pretty good that if you test it with a magnet you will find out that it is a ferrous metal and the magnet will stick. If that is the case you could possibly use an inverted cup magnet to secure the bracket. Cup Magnet
You would use a small bolt and nut to attach the magnet to the bracket so that the face of the magnet (the pulling side) faces the wall. Then trace the magnet shape onto the wall in the appropriate place. Use an exacto knife or a forestner bit (if you have one) to remove the dry wall down to the metal plate. Then just clean up the hole and attach the magnet to the metal. Depending on the thickness of the drywall you may need to add a few washers between the magnet and the bracket. You can find these magnets rated for 90+ lbs of direct pulling force, but I doubt you would even need that much.

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