10 Tips for Drilling into Plasterboard

March 11, 2024

Looking to hang a mirror or a picture on your wall, but not sure how to drill into plaster? We’re here to help!

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional tradesperson, drilling into plaster can sometimes be a tricky task. So, we’re here to share our top techniques and tools to use when drilling into plaster, and help you avoid some of the most common mistakes that can lead to issues like cracked plaster.

If you’re keen to kick off your home improvement project, keep reading to ensure your drilling into plaster goes smoothly and without any damage to your walls. 

What are the correct steps to drilling a hole in a plaster wall?

When drilling a hole into a plaster wall, it is important to follow the correct steps to ensure a smooth and successful outcome. As experienced diamond drilling contractors, we are here to share our top insights to help you get the job done. 

Firstly, it is essential to get the right tools for the job. This includes a drill with a multi-use drill bit, a pencil, and a level. Next, you’ll want to use the pencil to mark the spot where you’d like to drill, and drill slowly and steadily, applying gentle pressure. Finally, once the hole is drilled, remove any debris and check that it is the desired size and depth before proceeding with your project. 

By following these steps, even those drilling at home can achieve professional results with ease.

How to check if a wall is plaster?

Whilst drilling into walls for DIY projects, it’s important to determine the type of material you are working with. Though you might assume your wall is simply plaster, you might start to drill and find a harder masonry material, which would need specialist drilling equipment like the tools we use for our commercial and domestic diamond drilling services. 

To check if your wall is plaster before drilling, simply knock on the wall and listen to the sound it produces. If the wall sounds hollow when you knock on it, then it is most likely plaster. However, if the wall does not produce a hollow sound and feels solid, it could be made of brick or other masonry materials.

Knowing whether a wall is plaster or not is crucial because it determines the drilling technique that should be used. For plaster walls, a regular drilling technique can be used as long as you take proper precautions such as using anchors and ensuring the drill bit is suitable for the job. On the other hand, if the wall is made of brick or other masonry materials, a different drilling technique is required. Diamond drilling is a technique that is specifically suited for drilling into masonry materials, and involves using diamond-tipped drill bits that are capable of cutting through tough materials like brick with ease.

If you’re unsure about your drilling skills, or you’ve found that your wall is brick or another masonry material, it’s recommended that you consult professional diamond drilling companies like us to ensure that your project is completed safely and efficiently. 

How to know when it’s safe to drill into plaster?

Before grabbing your power tools, it's crucial to check that it’s safe to drill into your wall. Start by using a stud finder to check the wall for studs - this will help you locate the solid areas of the wall where you can safely drill without causing any damage. 

Additionally, it's essential to determine what lies on the other side of the wall. For instance, if you're drilling into a bathroom wall, there could be pipes hidden behind the plaster. 

So, before you start your DIY drilling project at home, remember to check for studs and be aware of what's on the other side of the wall!

How do you not crack plaster when drilling?

Understandably, when drilling into their walls, many people are worried about cracking the plaster. However, this can be avoided by adding a small piece of masking tape over the area you’re looking to drill into, and drilling straight into it through to the wall. 

Additionally, avoid rushing the process and adding too much pressure - these are common issues that can also cause cracks. 

What drill bit is best for drilling into plaster?

Though we’re proud to offer our diamond drilling services across the UK, and love nothing more than our specialist drills, when drilling into plaster, diamond drill bits should not be used. As plaster is more delicate than the masonry materials diamond drill bits are intended for, this could cause cracking and damage. Instead, opt for a multi-use or multi-purpose drill bit. 

Can you drill straight into plaster?

Keen to start drilling into plaster? Once you’ve checked for studs and hidden pipes and wires, you’re good to go!

However, we’d always recommend marking the area you’d like to drill to ensure that it’s correct, and trying pilot holes first. By drilling a smaller pilot hole to start with, you’re helping to guide your larger drill bit for your main hole to get a more accurate finish. Whilst these steps may seem unnecessary, they can prevent you from drilling into your wall in the wrong location, or having your drill slip. 

What is the best way to drill into plaster? 

Once you’ve marked the area and you’re ready to start drilling into your wall, it’s important not to be too hasty. As with most drilling DIY projects, you’ll need to drill at a slow and steady pace, avoiding adding too much pressure.

How can I avoid drilling too deep into plaster?

When drilling at home, it can be difficult for those with less experience to avoid drilling too deep into their plaster walls. This is because, if you’re used to drilling into masonry materials or tougher surfaces, then plaster can feel quite easy to drill into in comparison. 

Whilst this is a good thing for those trying out their first drilling DIY, if you try to drill too deep you may cause issues for your project down the line. To avoid drilling too deep, set the drill depth in advance. 

Why can't I drill into my plaster wall?

Still struggling to drill into your plaster wall? There are several common issues that may be causing the problem. One reason you may be unable to drill into your plaster wall is that you are using the wrong type of drill bit. Plaster walls require drill bits that are designed to penetrate the hard surface without causing damage. Using a regular drill bit can result in the plaster crumbling or cracking. 

Another reason could be that you are drilling into a lath, which is a layer of wooden strips behind the plaster. If you hit a lath while drilling, it can cause the drill to get stuck or break. Similarly, you could be drilling into a harder material, such as brick, which would require a diamond drill bit. This is why we recommend finding out which material you’re drilling through (and what may be beneath it!) before attempting to drill into a plaster wall.

Searching for a Drilling Contractor Near You?

Feeling unsure about trying drilling DIY to create a hole in your wall? We’re here to help. If you’re looking for domestic diamond drilling services near you, we offer our services across the North West, East Midlands and North Wales. 

Alternatively, if you’re a site manager or construction worker looking for diamond drilling, cutting or sawing services, we work on commercial projects nationwide, even offering our services in London! Contact us today to arrange your free site visit and quote.