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Bobthefunkyfish 08-04-2012 11:40 AM

Help With Walls in NYC Apartment

I recently moved into a pre-war NYC apartment and wanted to mount rubber-coated metal hooks onto the wall upon which I intended to hang bicycles.

After much messy experimentation, several trips to hardware stores, and some generally uninformative conversations with the building's superintendent, I thought I finally knew what exactly the walls were composed of--attempts to mount relatively light things like a whiteboard revealed that one wall had plaster about an inch thick on top of concrete (which I didn't need to drill through for the whiteboard).

So when it came time to finally mount these hooks, I bought my wall anchors, rented an impact drill, made my measurements, marked my spots and began. But when I drilled the pilot holes through the plaster with my weak cordless drill, I never hit concrete--I was able to continue drilling for almost three inches, nearly the entire length of the drill bit. Since I can't mount the hooks on plaster alone and expect them to hold bicycles, I'm flummoxed. Is anyone familiar with NYC walls and can tell me why this wall's plaster is so thick? Is there some other material I drilled through that isn't plaster? I mounted a glass shelf in my bathroom and hit concrete after a half inch of plaster, so clearly the walls have inconsistent plaster thickness, but three inches seems like a lot. If it's of further assistance, this thick-plastered wall happens to separate our apartment from the neighbors (unlike the other walls I've drilled, which are interior, and which explains my extra caution).

Thanks for your help!

zircon 08-04-2012 02:06 PM

You most likely have a gypsum block wall, a wall made out of plaster blocks used for non load bearing partition walls. Don't drill deeper. You may almost be through into your neighbors. Go to a good local hardware store and tell them you need anchors for a "gyp block" wall.

Bobthefunkyfish 08-05-2012 12:15 PM

Thank you! I read more about gypsum blocks (I had no idea that was a possibility and of course my superintendent didn't mention them at all), and I think you are right. I'll investigate what sort of anchors are available, hopefully there are ones strong enough to hold bikes, but I'm afraid if not the project must be aborted--this is the only wall that could feasibly feature the hooks, space-wise. I'll report back on my efforts soon!

stuvwxyz99 08-12-2012 07:59 PM

I created an account to ask almost the same question. I also recently moved into an NYC apartment, this one is from the 1950s. I'd like to hang a shelf on a wall that separates my apartment from my neighbor's. I drilled for close to 3" easily. I tried googling to see what kind of anchors can be used in a plaster and gypsum block wall, but to no avail. Can anyone recommend a product?

stuvwxyz99 09-23-2012 06:04 PM

I can't edit the post but in case anyone stumbles on this thread later, I ended up using Toggler Alligator anchors (hopefully it's ok to mention brand names.) They seem to be working out well, although I suppose only time will really tell.

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