Fixing into hollow walls

Hollow walls or stud walls are most commonly made from vertical wooden supports (studs) that are covered by sheets of plasterboard. Because there are gaps between the vertical supports, significant areas of the wall will be hollow when covered with plasterboard, so this wall type is often referred to as a hollow wall. Ideally, you should try and fix into the wooden supports, but, if this is not possible, there are fixing techniques to ensure that you can cope with the hollow part of the wall, and that is what is shown below. Use a cable, pipe and stud detector to find safe positions to fix into. It is important to locate all these elements, all of which may be concealed within the wall you are working on.

Drilling into plasterboard 1. Drill through the plasterboard using the correct size of high speed steel bit. The plug will have the required size to match the drill bit size written on its side.
pushing wall plug into plasterboard 2. Push the plug into the hole gently making sure that the rim sits flush with the surrounding wall surface.
screwing self-drilling wall plug into plasterboard 3. As an alternative (for heavier duty requirements) use a self drilling plug that is simply screwed into position. For even heavier duty requirements you can use an all-in-one-anchor.
inserting screw into plasterboard 4. Insert the screw giving it one or two twists by hand to hold it in position.
screwing into plasterboard 5. Screw in place using a drill/driver. Do not overtighten as this may damage the plug and weaken the fixing.

Fixing tips

  • Types of drill bit fall into three main classifications – masonry, wood and high speed steel (hss). There is no ‘plasterboard drill bit’ and so using an hss bit is the best option.
  • You can buy wall plugs that are dual purpose in that they may be used in masonry or stud walls.
  • You only need a drill/driver to make holes in stud walls – if you plan to use a drill for making holes in masonry walls, you’ll need a combi drill or a power drill.
  • For more information on drills, see my guide – ‘Buying a cordlesss drill’.

  1. Ian says:

    please can you advise me how I can remove steel star shaped plugs in my stud /plaster walls ?

    • Hi Ian,

      This sounds like you have some design of hollow wall fixing sleeve embedded in the wall. Depending on the design, some will ‘unscrew’ with a bit of persuasion from a screwdriver wedged into the hole in the sleeve – others by prising up around the edges with a slot head screwdriver – some you literally have to dig out which does create some damage, but nothing that can’t be filled relatively easily.

      With some, the best option is to actually try and tap them slightly below the surface, and fill over the top.

      Hope this helps,



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