How To Drill Into Plaster Walls? A Comprehensive Guide!

Drilling into plaster walls might seem like a straightforward task, but it requires careful consideration and the right techniques to ensure you don’t end up with crumbling plaster or unsightly cracks.

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional, this guide will walk you through every step, from choosing the right drill bit to successfully hanging objects on plaster walls.

What Type of Drill Bit is Best for Plaster Walls?

Selecting the right drill bit is crucial to prevent damaging the plaster and achieving clean, accurate holes. Let’s explore the options:

Carbide Tipped Drill Bits

  • Advantages:
    • Highly durable and suitable for tough materials like plaster.
    • Retains sharpness over multiple uses.
    • Reduces the risk of chipping or cracking the plaster.
  • Considerations:
    • Might be more expensive upfront, but their longevity offsets the cost.

Diamond-Coated Drill Bits

  • Advantages:
    • Designed for hard materials, including plaster and tile.
    • Long-lasting due to the diamond-coated surface.
    • Provides precision and clean holes.
  • Considerations:
    • Generally pricier than standard drill bits.
    • Requires a slower drilling speed due to the harder material.

How Do You Drill into Plaster?

Drilling into plaster requires a steady hand and proper technique. Follow these steps for successful results:

Preparing the Area

  • Clearing the Workspace:
    • Remove any furniture, decorations, or obstacles near the drilling site.
    • Lay down a drop cloth to catch dust and debris.
  • Marking the Spot:
    • Use a pencil to mark the exact spot where you want to drill.
    • Double-check measurements and alignment.

Assembling the Tools

  • Choosing the Drill:
    • Opt for a corded drill with variable speed or a high-powered cordless drill.
    • Ensure the battery is fully charged or the cord is long enough to reach the drilling site.
  • Attaching the Correct Bit:
    • Select the appropriate drill bit based on the material you’re drilling into (e.g., plaster, wood, or metal).
    • Attach the bit securely to the drill’s chuck.

Drilling Technique

  • Slow Start:
    • Apply gentle pressure to create a small indentation on the marked spot.
    • Start the drill at a low speed to prevent the bit from wandering.
  • Gradual Increase:
    • Gradually increase the drilling speed and pressure as the hole deepens.
    • Keep the drill as straight as possible to avoid creating angled holes.
  • Cool Down:
    • Pause intermittently to prevent the drill bit from overheating.
    • This prevents both damage to the drill bit and excessive heat buildup in the plaster.

Finishing the Hole

  • Withdrawing the Drill:
    • As the hole is almost complete, reduce the drilling speed.
    • Slowly remove the drill while it’s still running to minimize plaster damage.

How Do You Keep Plaster from Crumbling When Drilling?

Minimizing plaster crumbling is essential for a clean and professional-looking result. Here are techniques to achieve just that:

Using a Pilot Hole

  • Importance of Pilot Holes:
    • A pilot hole is a smaller hole drilled before the main hole.
    • It reduces stress on the plaster, preventing cracks and crumbling.
  • Choosing the Right Pilot Bit:
    • Opt for a drill bit slightly smaller than the final hole size.
    • This prepares the plaster and guides the larger bit for a cleaner hole.

Masking Tape Technique

  • Applying Masking Tape:
    • Place a piece of masking tape in an X shape over the drilling spot.
    • The tape provides a protective layer that helps prevent chipping.
  • Benefits of Masking Tape:
    • Minimizes plaster chipping around the drilling area.
    • Offers stability and a smoother drilling process.

Can You Hang Things from Plaster Walls?

Hanging objects on plaster walls requires careful consideration of both weight and technique. Let’s delve into the details:

Weight Considerations

  • Understanding Wall Structure:
    • Plaster walls consist of lath and studs behind the plaster layer.
    • The lath and studs provide support for hanging objects.
  • Weight Limits:
    • Different hanging methods have varying weight capacities.
    • Consider the object’s weight and the wall’s condition.

Hanging Methods

  • Using Wall Anchors:
    • Plastic wall anchors are suitable for lighter items.
    • Hollow wall anchors work well for medium-weight objects.
    • Toggle bolts or molly bolts are best for heavier items.
  • Toggle Bolts and Molly Bolts:
    • Distribute weight across a larger area, minimizing stress on plaster.
    • Provide secure and stable support for heavy items.

FAQs about Drilling into Plaster Walls:

1. Question: Are plaster walls suitable for drilling?

Answer: Yes, plaster walls are suitable for drilling, but they require some special considerations due to their composition. Plaster walls are more brittle than drywall, so using the right tools and techniques is essential to avoid cracks and damage.

2. Question: Can I use a regular drill to make holes in plaster walls?

Answer: Yes, you can use a regular drill, but it’s recommended to use a drill with adjustable speed settings and a hammer function. This will help prevent excessive pressure and make drilling smoother by allowing the bit to penetrate the plaster gradually.

3. Question: Is finding the stud necessary when drilling into plaster walls?

-Answer: Finding a stud is important, especially for heavier items. You can use a stud finder or knock on the wall to locate studs, which provide better support and prevent the plaster from crumbling.

4. Question: Are there specific drill bits for plaster walls?

Answer: Yes, using a carbide-tipped masonry bit is ideal for drilling into plaster walls. These bits are designed to handle the hardness of plaster and minimize the risk of chipping or cracking.

5. Question: Can I hang shelves on plaster walls without causing damage?

Answer: Absolutely, you can hang shelves on plaster walls. Use appropriate hardware like wall anchors that are designed for plaster walls. These distribute the weight and minimize the chance of plaster crumbling around the anchor.

6. Question: Is it necessary to patch holes in plaster walls after removing items?

Answer: Yes, it’s recommended to patch holes in plaster walls after removing screws, nails, or anchors. Use a plaster patching compound to fill the holes and sand it down for a smooth finish before repainting.

7. Question: Can I drill into plaster walls without creating dust?

Answer: While some dust is inevitable, you can minimize it by using a drill equipped with a dust collection attachment. Additionally, consider placing a piece of painter’s tape below the drilling spot to catch loose debris.

8. Question: Are there any safety precautions I should take when drilling into plaster walls?

Answer: Absolutely, safety is paramount. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from debris, and consider wearing a dust mask to prevent inhalation of fine particles during drilling and sanding.

9. Question: Can I use adhesive hooks on plaster walls instead of drilling?

Answer: Yes, adhesive hooks can be used on plaster walls as an alternative to drilling. However, they are best suited for lighter items. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s weight recommendations and instructions for proper application.

10. Question: Is there a specific technique for drilling larger holes in plaster walls?

Answer: Yes, when drilling larger holes for items like electrical boxes or pipes, start with a small pilot hole and gradually increase the bit size. This prevents excessive stress on the plaster and ensures a clean hole without cracks.


Drilling into plaster walls is a skill that requires precision and patience. By choosing the right drill bit, mastering the drilling technique, and employing strategies to prevent plaster crumbling, you can ensure your projects are not only successful but also maintain the integrity of your walls.

Remember to consider weight limits and use appropriate hanging methods when decorating or organizing your space. With this comprehensive guide in hand, you’re ready to tackle drilling into plaster walls like a true professional.