Is My Wall Drywall or Wood? [How to Tell Easily]


Questions and Ideas

Look around for uniform, rectangle sheets with brown paper backing. If you find this, then you have drywall. But if you find thin strips of wood instead, with hardened white material driven into the gaps between the wood strips, it’s a plaster wall.

Another way to find out if you’ve got a wood wall is to use a magnetic stud finder.

The magnetic stud finder is an electronic device that finds screws used to attach drywall to studs. Studs are strong, vertical beams that support the frame of your house. They’re are often made of wood or metal and are often found behind drywall.

Depending on the type of wall stud you have, if it’s metal, you’ll feel a weak pull or attraction as you move the finder horizontally across your wall. If it’s wood, you won’t feel any attraction.

To use a magnetic stud finder, hold it flat against the wall, about a foot from where you want to drill. Then slowly slide the finder to the right.

As you do this, the finder may light up or beep (depending on the type). Mark the spot where you hear the beep with a pencil. If you missed the signal, retrace the last few inches to the left. Wait for the finder to light up or beep again then mark the spot.

For more accuracy, repeat the process—but this time start from the right and move left. Mark the spot where the stud finder beeps or lights up.

Can I Drill Into a Drywall?

While drilling into drywall is probably the only way to hang that beautiful painting or wall TV you purchased when moving to your new home; you could damage the structure of the wall when you don’t know what’s behind it.

Worse, you could burst a water or gas pipe while drilling, which may result in gas leaks or flood (if it’s a water pipe). We recommend not drilling into drywall—unless you’ve found a wall stud.

Since wall studs are made of solid material, they hold screws and nails better than any other part of the wall. One of the best ways you can find a wall stud is to use an electronic or magnetic stud finder.

Studs are usually spaced 16 to 24 inches apart, so you won’t have to search very long to find your first one.

Mind you, when drilling into a stud or anywhere on your wall, don’t drill near light sockets or switches. You could tear the electrical wires while drilling and this may lead to electrocution.

What is Behind My Drywall?

Because drywall is like an extra skin that’s drawn over walls and ceilings, it’s hard guessing what’s behind it—especially if you don’t own the house.

That said, several things can be hidden behind your drywall. We’ve put together things you likely find behind your drywall below. They are:

  • Wires: You’ll definitely find wires running along with the wall studs behind the drywall. These wires can run horizontally (that’s sideways) or vertically.
  • Headers: Headers are horizontal wooden frames that run across the top of doors. Headers act like backups to beams; they support the weight that ordinarily would’ve been supported by studs in that space.
  • Pipes: Wires are not the only materials that run through your walls. You’ll find pipes, too. It could be a gas pipe or a water pipe.

Apart from these three things we’ve listed, other things you may likely find behind your drywall include insulated material like foam, fibreglass or wool for removing noise; dead animals, dead insects; pieces of wood; screws and nails, etc.

Is the Wall Load-Bearing Without Removing the Drywall?

Without house walls, your home will lack structure. Walls protect you from dangerous winds, dust and other terrible weather conditions that may harm you.

Some walls are special. They support the weight of your roofs, ceilings, including floors. These walls are known as load-bearing walls.

Since drywall covers the entire wall in the house, telling if a wall is load-bearing can be difficult. But here are ways to spot one without removing the drywall.

  • Load-bearing walls usually have posts. Posts are solid, vertical uprights that support the structure of a house—think of them as the spine of the house. When merged with horizontal beams, posts are used to form structural frames into which walls are placed.
  • You can spot a post by looking for the walls above. For instance, the small knee walls that support roof rafters sit above load-bearing walls like posts.
  • Another way to tell that a wall is a load-bearing is by looking at the floor’s joist. You’ll find this feature in the building’s foundation.

If you stand in the basement and look at the floor above, you should be able to see these floor joists. If you still can’t find it, look at the floor below from the attic.

Can You Get Away With Removing a Load-Bearing Wall?

If you can find a way to support the floor above from crashing down, then yes! But you’ll need to install a reinforced steel joint to support the floor above during removal.

However, removing a load-bearing wall is energy-demanding and requires special skills and a strong knowledge of building structures. If you plan to remove a load-bearing wall, we recommend hiring a structural engineer.

Cost of Removing a Load-Bearing Wall in the UK & U.S.

In the UK, the average amount of removing a load-bearing wall costs around £1,200 to £1,750. In the US, for a single-storey home, the average cost is between $1000 to $3000.

But this price may change as it depends on the location and the size of the building company removing the wall.

For example, if you live in London, you could pay up to £2,500 to remove a load-bearing wall. In the US, if your house is more than a level, the starting price is around $3,200 and can rise to $10,000.

How Do You Mount a TV Set on a Plaster Wall?

Because plaster walls are often found in older homes, locating the studs behind these walls can be difficult. If you’re not careful, you could end up permanently damaging the wall structure when trying to mount a TV on it.

Mounting a TV on a plaster wall is quite tricky, but it isn’t something you can’t do yourself. With our easy guide to help you, you won’t need a pro to get it done.

Before getting started, here are a couple of tools you’ll need to hang the TV: stud finder, TV mount, plaster anchor, drill machine, screwdriver, and bolts.

Steps on Mounting a TV on a Plaster Wall (14 Steps)

  1. First, think about where you want to mount the TV. Make sure it’s at eye level. Depending on the size of the TV, the larger it is, the higher it should be above the ground for wider, better viewing.
  2. Use a stud finder to locate the wall studs. Check the beginning of this article to find how to tell if your wall is drywall or wood using a stud finder.
  3. Next, level the mount. We recommend using a carpenter’s level. A carpenter’s level is used to check that the wall surface is perfectly levelled, or if there’s a slight incline or decline that needs to be corrected.
  4. When levelling the mount make sure the top and edges of the mount are parallel with the floor.
  5. Mark the screw holes of the mount. Ensure that all the screw holes line up with studs behind the plaster wall.
  6. Next, pick a plaster anchor (plasterboard fixings). Whichever anchor you pick, make sure it can carry at least 150 pounds of weight for an average TV side. If your TV is larger than the average, combine the weight of the TV, the mount, and an extra 20% weight; this will help you pick the right plaster anchor.
  7. Drill the spots you marked within the stud area earlier. Make sure the studs are large enough to accommodate the plastic anchors.
  8. Next, remove the screw from the plaster anchors and pound the anchors into the drilled holes with a hammer (but do it lightly). Depending on the type of anchor you purchased or have, you may need to use an electric screwdriver.
  9. Grab the TV mount, take the screws you removed earlier and slide it through the mount into the anchor in the drywall.
  10. Fasten the screws in place with a screwdriver.
  11. Before mounting your TV, ensure that the mount is steady.
  12. Next, you’ll need to rest the TV on a flat surface with the screen facing down to attach another mount at the back. Make sure to do this carefully to avoid damaging the TV screen.
  13. Once you’ve screwed the mount to the back of the TV, ask a friend or neighbour to help you lift the TV; then line up the TV’s mount plate with the mounting bracket on the wall.
  14. When the TV’s finally in place, check if it’s centered. If it isn’t, try adjusting the TV until it’s centered and you’re satisfied.

That’s all! You’re done!

References:

https://www.clovervalleyhandymanservice.com/blog/what-to-know-before-drilling-into-a-wall

http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/documents/1056/wworth-sop10projectmanagementv2.2-140507.pdf

https://purdylounge.com/how-to-hang-a-tv-on-plaster-walls/

https://www.angi.com/articles/how-much-does-it-cost-remove-load-bearing-wall.htm

Joe Taylor

Over 2 decades of remodeling experience, Joe is an expert in home improvement. He is now the Managing Editor of PlumbJoe where he writes guides for homeowners. His hobbies include climbing, running and playing the piano.

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