I'm currently attempting to install a couple of Ikea 'LACK' floating shelves, but am having difficulty with the screw fixings (metal anchors) not sitting securely in the wall, and could do with a bit of advice.

The shelves are intended to be fixed to the wall by securing a bracket to the wall with screws, with the shelf then slotting onto metal tubes projecting from the bracket.

The wall I have chosen is a dividing wall between two adjoining houses (i'd guess 1960s built, in London UK). It's clearly a solid wall, from the feel and sound when tapping it, however I'm not sure what the specific structure is. - it's covered in quite thick wallpaper, and seems to have a fair depth of plaster before encountering brickwork.

I bought some metal anchor screws (see images linked below), which I planned to secure the bracket into.

having drilled a small (4mm) pilot hole, I screwed in the anchor screws, and despite going in flush to the wallpaper, they never get even slightly tight and are both able to spin in the hole, as well as being easily pulled straight out.

it appears that what I'm screwing into is very soft plaster, which is just being torn apart by the screws. Drilling the holes was pretty easy most of the way, but I definitely hit brickwork at the back.

I'd be very grateful for some advice on:

  • are these the most appropriate fittings for this application?
  • if not, what should I use to attach something to this wall?
  • do I need to use something longer, and go deeper into the brickwork? (I'm not sure how easy this will be with the drill I have, which is not a hammer drill / ideal for proper masonry work)

I don't have a great deal of experience with this sort of thing, but I think the problem is the amount of 'soft' material in front of the solid wall - the red-ish plaster seems to be very crumbly and loose. the opposite wall is clearly hollow (although I haven't drilled it yet, and am not sure of its exact composition) - might it be easier to fit these to that wall? - it's not my preference, but if it's infinitely easier I'd consider it.

If i need to give up on the current wall, any advice on filling and finishing it to get rid of the holes I've created is also very welcome!

The link below includes a few pictures of the screws, the wall and the hole they have created, which hopefully will help someone to work out what the composition of the wall is!

https://i.sstatic.net/cjrNY.jpg Anchor

Many thanks for any advice.


1 Answer 1


The anchor screws you show are simply too short for that type of shelf. They seem to be designed for anchoring lightweight objects to plasterboard. They are not suitable for plastered brick walls or for shelving that may carry heavy loads like books or heavy ornaments.

enter image description here enter image description here

I would go out and buy some long screws (say 5cm) and conventional wall-plugs. You will need to drill-out the holes to a wider diameter to suit the wall plugs you buy.

You will probably need to buy a normal length masonry drill bit (probably 7 or 8 mm diameter depending on wall-plug)

enter image description here

Use it in a drill that has a hammer action (a combi-drill will do - borrow one if you don't own one)

If you need to buy a combi-drill - you'll find that wired drills are cheaper and more powerful - much better for drilling into brick.

If money is an issue, buy one from a local Wilco, it will likely last long enough to get this job done :-). B&Q sometimes do a special offer on the halfway-decent Bosch PSB680RE

  • In addition, I'd recommend buying specialized masonry fasteners. In the US the popular brand is called Tapcon. These are much stronger but deform somewhat as they are screwed in so they fit firmly within masonry. Also in choosing a screw length, you want to make sure you get something about 2.5cm into the masonry, so consider the width of your plaster layer and shelf bracket and add 2.5cm to that to get your minimum screw length. Aug 25, 2016 at 14:40
  • As for your drill - if you only need to drill four or five holes, a regular drill (with a good sharp masonry bit) will probably be fine. Hammer drills are way faster, but you can probably get by without one. You'll want to pull your drill out from time to time as you go to help remove dust from the hole. Aug 25, 2016 at 14:50
  • In general, I find that a hammer drill is not really needed in any brick I have met. If you have one, great - don't go buy one just for this, unless you try with the drill you have and it goes nowhere. Most brick is pretty soft and will drill just fine with a masonry bit and an ordinary drill. Do use heavy pressure - the drill won't pull itself into the wall.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 25, 2016 at 14:50

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