Rubble filled walls

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13 Jun 2010
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Hi folks , can anyone advise me on the best way to drill a rubble filled wall & whats the best fixing to use . Someone has had a go already & made a botch of ( I have not seen it yet ) it . The holes are to hang brackets for curtain poles & I think the curtains are fairly heavy , but it sounds like the drilling & fixings are the problem , possibly holes are too big because of the type of wall material ? Hope you can help , thanks , T
"Random stone" is the usual name for the type of wall. They can be a nightmare to fix anything to - you are by no means unique in having problems. You may well find that to mount anything load bearing you need to fix a backing board of some sort to the wall using screws and plugs where you find solid fixings, then screwing your brackets to the board - unfortunately it is rare to find solid mounts exactly where you need them. If your holes are only just oversized you can sometimes get away with blowing the dust out and using a water based adhesive like No More Nails to actually stick the plugs in. Water based ones seem to be a bit better with dust, just fill the hole with adhesive first and work it around a little to pick up anything loose then push the plug in, and allow to dry well. Gun grade polyurethanes can be very useful as well - they need moisture to set, so you can use a water spray to get rid of any loose dust. Afaik, there is no cut and dried way of doing it - or at least I've never found one. I once cut 250 feet of deep ogee (with a hand held router :shock: ) to make a wide dado because someone insisted on mounting tiebacks for heavy curtains - every time someone hitched a curtain back, the tieback ripped out of the wall, so I had to fix the dado then fix the tiebacks to it. Good luck with it. :)
Sometimes you can tap with a hammer - when you hit a solid bit it'll sound dead, otherwise just keep trying with a masonry drill - there isn't an easy way. Sometimes if you find a gap between two rocks you can whack a wooden peg in. If it's not carrying much, sometimes you can get away with sticking a backing board up - but it won't won't half make work and a hell of a mess if it pulls off.
Just posting to agree with what Phil has said. You may need to put a piece of wood across the general area so you can fix a screw at the right point.

A lot does depend on what sort of stone wall you have, which is presumably hidden by plaster. If it really is 'rubble filled' you will have two fair faces of squared off blocks, but there is every variant from nice square hard stone through to the sort of construction that is little more than a heap of rubble with some of the voids filled with soft lime mortar.

I've had some success just by using progressively bigger screws and fixings - going up to say 8 x 100 mm screws into matching plastic plugs where you might have expected to use 5 x 40 mm.

The old solution that is no longer available was a mixture from Rawlplug which you mixed up with water and pushed into the hole, but as it was cement and asbestos, it's no longer available.

However, there are more modern solutions where you drill a hole and inject resin to glue a bit of studding into the hole. I've not used these but a quick look at the instructions shows that the makers only recommend them for neat round holes - I suspect you could be left with a resin ended stud twiddling round in a big hole which would be no better.

However, I have seen adverts for a new solution that might be what you need. It is a disc of felt, about 50 or 75 mm diameter, which you wet, then scrunch up and poke into the hole. It holds the screw and sets solid.

The trouble is, I've not registered what it was called! I can't spot it from a quick look online at B&Q and Screwfix and Toolstation - but maybe someone else will know what they are!
Im always drilling into crappy victorian walls that just turn to manky dust that stains anything it touches! DAMHIK!

Chemfix with a piece of threaded rod works well, and then if the hangers will allow just bolt them on, try and get the hole dust free and get a fair amount of glue and threaded rod in, screwfix sell it pretty cheap, make sure you buy the stuff that doesn't require a special gun! and then drive an hour to a job to find the stuff you have is useless without the correct gun! Again DAMHIK!

to be fair is a hard job to get right you probably require good accuracy with a sds drill, not easy!

Probably stating the obvious, but it's also worth starting off with a tiny drill bit and moving up to the required size if you are lucky enough to find somewhere to get a fixing in directly. Trying any sort of accuracy into a wall like that with a big bit is asking for trouble.

+1 on the resin too, and the backing board, and the black dust on a beautiful white carpet.
Curtain poles... so you might be dealing with the lintels. Many rubble walls have wooden lintels on the inner face. You may be lucky. But otherwise you're into the realms of long sds drill and long fixings and hope you can hit a large enough lump of stone. Or you could try the lateral thinking approach... I've got a 6.5 metre steel tube curtain pole all down one wall of my lounge (3mm wall 20mm dia tube comes in 6.8 m lengths). That's hung on hand forged J hooks from the ceiling beams. Though trying to manoeuver that into place exercised spatial skills!
+1 for the resin. I would drill as deep into the wall as you can, deeper than standard studs which may only be 80mm long - you can buy threaded M8 rod in 1m length and cut to size. I'm assuming the walls are pretty thick, because of the way their constructed - I've seen them about 2ft thick.


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