So I'm sure that at one point in time, all of you have gone to the hardware store to pick up a pack of screws, or bought a shelf to hang on the wall, and with it came a pack of screws & the same number of little plastic parts - like these:
And I'm sure that some of you thought "What in the world are these plastic things?" - I know that I did the first time that I saw them. Well, those little plastic things are the magic that is the "Wall Anchor" and they have a very distinct purpose. They help to ANCHOR whatever it is that you are hanging, to the wall. Being the proud owner of a 90-year old house with extremely brittle, plaster walls, I have come to love these little devices & I'll tell you why.
Say you want to hang a very heavy picture from your wall. In a house built in the last 50 years, you would probably get out your stud finder, find the closest stud, hammer in a nail or drill in a screw & hang your picture. However, using a stud finder in an old home is much more difficult. Metal lath, differing thicknesses of plaster & unconventional stud spacing, will really confuse a stud finder - so most of the time, our stud finder is used only to hold up in front of Matt. It makes him smile when it turns red and beeps :).
Do you know what that is? That is two small and one large hole where the nails literally went through all of the plaster. If you look VERY closely at the big hole on the left, you can still see the head of the large nail sticking out from inside the plaster. This is one of the things that can happen if you try to nail or screw into plaster, and even drywall without using an anchor. Another thing that can happen, is that because the nail is not "attached" to anything, it will hang down with the weight of whatever is hanging from it, and could potentially make more damage to the wall, should the nail or screw pull out of the wall.