How do you drill plaster?

How do you drill plaster? - Fix It Cape Town

When it comes to home improvement projects or simply hanging a picture frame on the wall, drilling can often be a necessary step. However, drilling into plaster can be a bit more challenging than drilling into other materials. Plaster is a brittle material that requires careful handling to avoid cracks or damage. In this article, we will explore some tips and techniques for drilling into plaster successfully.

Why is drilling into plaster different?

Before we dive into the specifics of drilling into plaster, it’s important to understand why it is different from other materials. Plaster is a mixture of gypsum, sand, and water that is applied to walls and ceilings to create a smooth surface. It is a relatively delicate material that can crack easily if not handled properly. As a result, drilling into plaster requires a more gentle approach compared to drilling into wood or concrete.

Tools and equipment

To successfully drill into plaster, you will need a few essential tools and equipment:

  1. Drill – Use a corded drill instead of a cordless one for better control and power.
  2. Masonry drill bit – Choose a drill bit specifically designed for drilling into masonry, such as brick or plaster.
  3. Screwdriver bit – If you plan on inserting screws, make sure you have the appropriate screwdriver bit.
  4. Screw anchors – For securing heavier objects, screw anchors can provide additional support.
  5. Masking tape – Use masking tape to mark the drilling point and prevent the plaster from cracking.

Steps for drilling into plaster

Now that you have the necessary tools, let’s go through the step-by-step process of drilling into plaster:

  1. Identify the location – Determine the exact spot where you want to drill by using a stud finder or tapping the wall to find hollow sounds. Avoid drilling near electrical wires or pipes.
  2. Mark the drilling point – Place a small piece of masking tape on the wall at the desired location. This will help prevent the plaster from chipping or cracking when the drill bit makes contact.
  3. Start with a pilot hole – To minimize the risk of cracking the plaster, begin by drilling a small pilot hole using a low-speed setting on your drill. This hole will guide the larger drill bit.
  4. Drill with care – Increase the speed and pressure gradually as you drill into the plaster. Apply steady, even pressure to prevent the drill bit from getting stuck or causing vibrations that could damage the surrounding area.
  5. Insert screws or anchors – If you plan on inserting screws or anchors, remove the drill bit and replace it with the appropriate screwdriver bit. Then, screw in the fastener using firm but controlled force.

Tips for drilling into plaster

Here are some additional tips to help you achieve better results while drilling into plaster:

  • Use a water spray bottle to lightly mist the area you are drilling. This can help reduce dust and prevent the plaster from cracking.
  • Ensure your drill bit is sharp and in good condition. Dull or worn-out bits can cause unnecessary damage to the plaster.
  • Consider using a hammer drill for larger holes or when drilling through multiple layers of plaster.
  • Keep a vacuum cleaner or dustpan nearby to clean up any dust or debris as you drill.


Can I use regular drill bits for plaster?

Regular drill bits are not recommended for drilling into plaster. Masonry drill bits are specifically designed to handle the brittleness of plaster and should be used instead.

How do I repair cracks or damage caused by drilling into plaster?

If you accidentally crack or damage the plaster while drilling, don’t panic. You can easily repair minor cracks with a patching compound or joint compound. Apply the compound to the affected area, smooth it out, and let it dry. For more extensive damage, it may be necessary to consult a professional plasterer.

Are there any alternatives to drilling into plaster?

If you’re hesitant to drill into plaster or want to avoid potential damage, there are alternative methods for hanging objects. Options include adhesive hooks, picture hanging strips, or even command strips specifically designed for use on plaster walls.


Drilling into plaster can indeed be tricky, but with the right approach and tools, you can achieve successful results without damaging your walls. Remember to take your time, use the appropriate tools, and follow the steps outlined in this article. By doing so, you’ll be able to hang your pictures, install shelves, or tackle other projects with confidence. Happy drilling!

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