Mounting Things to the Wall - for keeps

Have you ever tried mounting things to the wall, only to have them wiggle loose and come off after a while? Do you have something that weighs so much that traditional fasteners can't hold it in place unless you use a great number of them?

I've had the same problems, and I've solved them with a non-traditional approach.

When it comes to frugal living, sometimes you have to draw the line with respect to how many of those $1.29 fasteners you use.

If you're going to mount a bunch of things to the wall. It's starts to become a bit costly.

It's even more costly when those fasteners just don't do the job that they should. Thankfully when mounting things to the wall, you have alternatives.

Enter, good old tried-and-true glue. Yep, glue can come to the rescue and help us affix things with holding power that you just can't duplicate with fasteners.

The Problem

There is a handrail in my house that's associated with the stairs leading to and from the basement. It was mounted on the sheet rock with plastic plug type wall anchors. Since the stairs are rather steep, the handrail is relied on a bit more than usual, and this helps work typical wall anchors right out of the thin sheet rock in a hurry.

Wall anchors pulled out of the sheet rock because of heavy use of the handrail.

As you might have guessed, after no success, I decided to use a technique that I developed many years ago for mounting things to the wall when the wall is wood and the things are heavy. I figured it could work with this project as well. And it did.

Photo right shows how the wall anchors worked their way out of the wall after just a few months of handrail use.

The Solution

To fix the problem, I first created several square plates of wood from a 1 by 6 piece of fir, and then I put a little accent trim on them with a router. I marked where on the wall they should be placed, and then drilled holes in the wood and countersunk* the holes so I could hold them in place with drywall screws.

The screws were only a temporary holding technique. The real solution to mounting things to the wall would be to have these plates glued to the sheet rock wall. I know it sounds goofy, but it works very well. Here's why it works:

  • Glue sticks very well to sheet rock and wood - it penetrates both surfaces.
  • The wooden plates create a very large surface area for grip.
  • Both the wood and the sheet rock are relatively flat, so the gap that has to be filled with glue is very narrow. The narrower the gap, the more holding power the glue has to keep the two materials together.

To mount the plates, I gave the back of them a healthy squiggly stream of glue. I did not spread it out because it needed to make good contact with the irregular surface of the sheet rock. If I spread it out, it might not bridge the gap between the flat wood and the peaks and valleys of the irregular sheet rock texture.

I mounted the plates to the wall by first massaging them around a bit in the designated spots where they would be mounted. This helped make certain that the glue was well distributed on both the wood and the sheet rock wall.

Using four drywall screws, I attached the wooden plate firmly to the wall. After I had all four plates installed, I used a damp rag to wipe down areas around the wooden plates where glue was smeared or had seeped out. Neatness counts - sometimes. Handrail mounted to the wall with a wood plate and glue.

After the plates had dried in place overnight, I mounted the handrail to the plate. And, there is was, a handrail with about 75 square inches of surface area holding it in place. That's much more surface area and strength than could be attained with traditional fasteners, and the cost was about zero - scrap wood, 12 drywall screws, and a little glue.

Mounting things to the wall in this manner provides them with serious sheer strength and they are highly resistant to being pulled off.

If you can pull them off the wall, that portion of the wall will likely come with it.

Drawbacks of the Technique

When mounting things to the wall using this "screw and glue" technique, remember that it's largely a permanent installation. It will damage the sheet rock to take the glued plates off the wall, so make certain that whatever you mount in this fashion is something that you want to mount permanently in that place.

Otherwise, you're just giving yourself another headache.

* You might recall that one of the advantages of a drywall screw is that it can sink itself into wood so a countersink isn't necessary. That's true when you're gripping wood alone, but in this case I was gripping sheet rock, and that doesn't allow enough pulling strength to sink the screws on their own, so the screw holes need to be countersunk.

Done with Mounting Things to the Wall, take me to Do It Yourself.

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.