22 April 2014

Adventures with plaster walls

We’re having a houseguest later this week (just a one-night stay from a new coworker from another country), so I needed to make sure the guest room is in order for her.

Hmmm. Notice anything wrong?

Oh, just my worst nightmare about hanging things on our plaster wall.


Here’s what happened. We’ve been lucky to have lovely weather here in STL recently, so we opened our windows. The crosswind through the house cause the curtains to billow in, and apparently at one point, the curtain took the lamp off the wall with it. AND CRACKED THE PLASTER.

But I can’t blame the curtain or the lamp. I blame myself, for being so scared to put holes in the plaster wall last year. Apparently I thought the solution would be to put really tiny holes using really tiny nails and screws.

I’ve come far enough in this year to know that this idea was really, really stupid. The lamps were never really secure against the wall; I always worried that our houseguests wouldn’t know they were held up with good intentions and knock them off the wall. So really, it was only a matter of time... although I’d never suspected the curtains would be to blame for knocking the lamps off the wall. If I’d secured the lamps to the wall correctly in the first place, it wouldn’t cracked. Ugh. Plaster wall lesson LEARNED.

Fortunately, the cracks weren’t too awful, and since the hole was already there, I decided to just try to re-mount with a properly-sized screw this time. Comparison:

(You guys, I am still shaking my head about that tiny screw. I feel so dumb.)

I also replaced that nail with another properly-sized screw, so the plate would actually be flush and tight against the wall. I did the same for the other lamp, too. Because NOW I know that wussing out with the holes I put in the wall can just make things worse!

Before I got the nerve to hang things on our walls, I spent A LOT of time googling how to hang heavy items on plaster walls. And I felt like I didn’t get any good answers – well, other than “maybe just don’t hang that on the wall”, which is why it took me forever to start hanging things. When I did put holes in my walls, I tried to minimize damage with tiny screws and nails.

So. I’m telling you now, googlers terrified of putting holes in your rented plaster walls: DON’T use that small-gauge screw, thinking it’ll be the better option in the end. If it falls, it’ll cause more damage than if you’d just used the correct screw to start with!

At least our guest room is guest-ready again:

And we can open our windows without fear of another curtain-related plaster-cracking incident!