Fixing Heavy Loads to Plasterboard or Solid Walls

When securing heavy loads you will need to make sure the fixing is suitable for the job. This guide looks at two methods for providing more substantial fixings. The first outlines a method for securing heavy items to a hollow wall such as a plasterboard stud partition. The second uses anchor bolts or frame fixings for fixing to a solid wall such as brick work or block work.

Heavy Load on a Hollow Wall

1. If you're lucky, when fixing something heavy to a plasterboard stud wall, you may find that the fixing points align with the timber studs. Clearly, if this is the case, there will be no issue with fixing the item as the timber studs will provide suitable strength.

2. Where the timbers do not line up with your fixings, you can use a suitably sized timber batten to bridge between them. It must be sufficiently strong to support the weight of the item to be fixed. It may be simply cut to length and mounted on the surface screwing through into the studwork. This bridge will then provide support for the item.

3. Alternatively, you can recess it into the wall so that it is flush or beneath the surface. This will make for a much neater job at the end of the day, but will involve some additional work.

4. Always check with a detector Need More Info? that there are no pipes or cables hidden in the wall beneath the area to be cut or drilled. When drilling always wear suitable safety goggles.

Cutting the stud wall

Timber studs identified behind the plasterboard

5. Locate the timber studs in the wall. To locate them, gently tap the surface until you hear a muffled sound indicating the presence of solid timber behind. If you work your way across the wall where you want to make the fixings, you should be able to fairly accurately identify the position of the upright timber studs.

Marking the batten length

6. Determine across which ones you are going to span with the bridging timber and cut the batten to length. This will need to be long enough and at the correct height to accommodate your fixings. The bridge will need to sit on the studwork at each end – or you can fix short battens to the side of the stud at either end to fix to.

Marking the batten outline on the wall

7. Position the batten on the wall and mark around it.

Cutting the plasterboard with a padsaw

8. Drill Need More Info? through the plasterboard to provide a starting point and, using a padsaw, cut out the marked section.

Cutting the plasterboard with a craft knife

9. As you reach each of the timbers behind, you will need to use a sharp craft knife Need More Info? to cut the plasterboard rather than the padsaw.

Fitting the support battens

Removing the plasterboard

10. Remove the waste

Marking the batten

11. Hold the bridge piece in place. If it is necessary to recess it further into the wall -either to make it flush or to allow for plastering over - measure by how much and mark the batten accordingly.

Cutting notches with a hand saw

12. Notch the batten to suit. End notches can simply be cut with a hand saw Need More Info? . If you are spanning multiple studs, at the intermediate notches cut the outer lines to depth then pare out the rest with a chisel Need More Info?

Holes drilled for fixing screws

13. Once you are satisfied with the depth of the batten in the wall, drill holes in the bridge piece at each stud ready for fixing with screws .

Fixing the batten with screws

14. Fix it to the studwork with screws of sufficient diameter and length to provide adequate support.

Applying PVA to wood

15. Make good the decoration around including plastering or filling over the batten as required. Apply a coat of PVA Need More Info? to the timber before plastering so that the plaster will adhere properly.

Making good with filler

16. For small areas you can make good with filler or dry wall compound as shown in the picture. Apply the filler using a wide spatula over the whole area. By applying a little pressure you can 'feather' the edges to blend with the surrounding area.

Filler ready to be painted

17. Allow the filler to dry then sand Need More Info? smooth and repaint to match the existing decor.

18. You can now fix to this batten in the normal way.

Heavy Load on a Solid Wall

1. Using a detector Need More Info? check that there are no pipes or cables hidden in the wall beneath the area to be drilled. When drilling always wear suitable safety goggles Need More Info?.

Anchor Bolts

Anchor bolt for heavy duty fixings

2. Anchor bolts Need More Info? provide much stronger heavy duty fixings than can be achieved with standard wall plugs and screws. They are commonly used to fix structural timbers such as wall plates as well as frames and gate posts.

3. You will need to buy anchor bolts of a suitable size for the item to be fixed. They range in diameter from around 5mm to 25mm and come in a range of lengths to suit the thickness of the item to be fixed.

Drilling the timber for the anchor bolt fixing

4. Drill the timber with a suitably sized wood drill bit. The timber should be supported whilst it is being drilled.

Masonry drill bit mounted in the drill

5. Select a suitable size masonry drill bit and mount it in the chuck of your power drill.

Drilling to the required depth for anchor bolt

6. Drill the wall to the required depth as specified for the particular anchor bolt being used. Either use a depth stop or mark the drill with masking tape Need More Info? to indicate when the correct depth has been reached.

Inserting the anchor bolt in the wall

7. Mount the anchor bolt in the hole in the wall and offer the timber up to the wall.

Aligning the bolt with the hole in the timber

8. Align the bolt with the hole in the timber and push it fully home.

Tightening the nut of the anchor bolt

9. Use a spanner or socket wrench to tighten the nut until the timber is securely held.

Trimming the threaded section with a hacksaw

10. The excess threaded section can be cut back to the nut with a hacksaw Need More Info?.

Frame Fixings

Frame fixing used for heavy duty applications

11. For door and window frames, a frame fixing Need More Info? can be used instead. This comprises a long screw ready mounted in a plastic plug.

Drilling the timber to be fixed

12. The timber and hole in the wall are prepared in much the same fashion.

Inserting the frame fixing

13. Insert the frame fixing through the timber into the masonry hole.

Hammering in the frame fixing

14. The fixing is then tightened – in this example we are using a ‘hammer in’ frame fixing. The screw is hammered home into the plug and, if needs be, finally tightened with a screwdriver. Regular frame fixings are simply tightened with a screwdriver Need More Info?.

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