How to install a socket in lath and plaster. (2023)


A step by step guide to installing a socket in a lath and plaster wall.

The same procedure would be used for light switches, fused spurs, etc...

The plaster products I use in this video were...

For a final finish I use Gyproc Easifill 20 Filler
Thistle Bonding coat for the deep fill
Thistle Finishing or multi finish for the skim.


Installing a socket into latin plaster can be tricky, let's get straight into it, so we're going to install a socket in some latham plaster wall.

As you can see here, I've made up a small section of laugh and plaster.

Now you can see the back of it, the plaster poking through the laths.

You can see where all the plasters fall on on the sole plate here that can cause issue, because that can be six or seven inches worth of plaster at the bottom.

There we've got a drill through that sole plate to get our cable through we'll go through that later.

You can see here the plastered overlaps that plus has often got wallpaper on it.

In this example, I'm keeping the paper on this is very dry plaster.

It could have been on the wall for many decades, so we need to be really really gentle when we cut into it.

We want to avoid hitting the stud works when we cut through the lath.

So what I suggest you do is do a little tiny hole where you want to put your socket poke a little bit of bent wire through twizzle.

It around see if it can feel any stud work.

You know the stock is not going to hit the stud, so we offer our plasterboard box to the wall, get it level draw around it with a pencil, and then we can get a spirit level on it, just to make sure that it's nice and straight draw some nice long lines, because some of this plaster might fall away.

So you still got your reference point now: we've got to cut into the wall.

What I would suggest to use is a multi tool.

You can use the plasterboard swords the handheld saws, but they can put a lot of strain on the lath gonna loosen the plaster you want to be as gentle as you possibly can be.

So I'll do this in two steps I remove the plaster.

First, I use an older blade because the plaster really blunts them so we'll cut around our pencil marks and get rid of the plaster first.

So take your time.

There's no rush, pull the lines as close as you possibly can make sure they're, nice and straight, and that will help keep the final socket nice and straight on the wall.

This plaster just wants to fall off the wall, so slowly slowly, gentle gentle, then I just do some little vertical cuts to help me get the plaster off the wall all the time being, very, very gentle! Then we can remove the blast from the cut out to reveal the laths.

We then offer up the box of the hole, be cut out to make sure it fits as you can see here it fits nicely.

You want a tiny little bit of leeway.

You don't want it too tight when you're pushing it through.

Then we change the blade, get a nice sharp wood cutting blade on there, so we can cut through these last cleanly and simply and not put any strain on the last or the plaster I like to get a bit of wire around the last, so I can hold it nice and tight and just take it easy and gently.

It's no rush.

Gentle gentle we're going to cause as little damage to the plaster as possible, holding on to the lath with a little bit of wire gives us something to push against, and it also stops the lath from falling into the void, because these lats can actually be a little bit useful.

We'll see that in a short while the top of the lat's quite tight to the plaster here, so I can't get me a little wiring, so I'm just taking it very gently.

Let the tool do the cutting hardly putting any pressure on it whatsoever, just support it with my fingers when we're almost through, so it doesn't fall into the void.

It's not the end of the world.

If it does, though, and there we go we're through, we've got a whole plasterboard box and we slide our boxer to make sure it fits okay with plasterboard boxes.

You have to be pretty strict how straight they are metal back boxes.

You've got little lugs, so you've got a little bit of movement on the socket.

So here's the view of the back of the wall and these studs are actually held in place.

Quite nice and tight, but in all the walls these can often become very, very loose.

So there's an additional step you can do here is with that little bit of lath that we took out.

We can actually screw it onto the laths to give you a bit more support, it's something for the looks to sit flat against, and even if you didn't do that, this little lump plaster here would need to be removed.

So the lugs of the box can sit tight against the laps, so we can gently remove those little bits of plaster at the back, so our little bit of support can sit flush.

This is all dependent on how thick the plaster is, because there's only a certain amount of depth.

We've got in these plasterboard boxes and I'm using the really deep ones, the 47 mil boxes and just line up the screw with one of the lats, and so we hold the support at the back and then just gently with a handheld screwdriver just screw through the lath and into the support, and it just gives you a little bit of extra strength, use a handheld screwdriver.

You start using a drill driver you're just going to blow right through, so you can see the support held in there nice and tight with a couple of screws.

Plasterboard screws put the box in and see if it's level, it's not quite level here, it's not a great deal of movement on these plasterboard boxes, so we need to get it level just need to knick a little bit off that bottom.

There and you'll notice the more you play around with it, though the more chance the plaster is going to come away- and you can see here the paper's starting to come away a little bit plaster's coming loose I'll, show you what we can do about that, make sure you buy the deep plasterboard boxes, the ones I'm using the 47 millimeters deep.

The smaller size is just too shallow to fit in a latin plaster.

When you cut into laughing plaster there's a good chance you're going to get a bit of damage around the actual socket it's so dry.

A little bit of plaster is going to fall away, sometimes quite a lot of plastic and follower.

Don't worry, it's not the end of the world.

We can fill that get a bit of bonding on it if it's quite deep or some decent surface, filler I'll suggest the products to use at the end of the video.

But if you have got loose plaster behind the paper, don't be tempted just to try and push it back on with the socket it will come away.

So just gently take away the really loose stuff and we can repair this later on to keep this socket nice and steady.

We're going to actually grip fill it in place.

So I need to make support out of a length of thin button, just drill some holes in it level with the lugs in the box, then we can actually screw this support to the wall that pulls the lugs tight against the back of the ball, and it's gonna hold the socket, lovely and tight in place.

While we get the cable in and while we do any repairs to the plaster damage, so we pull the cable through we'll prepare the back box, we'll put a beta grip, fill around the lip of the box and push that in place and pull the little lugs in make sure it's nice and tight tuck, the cable away into the box.

That's quite an important step that, if that cable gets knocked, it will make that box wiggle.

That's one of the reasons why we grip fill it in make sure it's nice and tight to the wall.

So when we do make our connections and such it's less likely to move and crack any plaster and we'll clean away, any residue of the grip fill get rid of that.

We'll have another check for level make sure everything is good and then we'll get that bitter button we prepared earlier and we'll screw that onto the back box and that will pull the lugs in nice and tight and press the box against the wall do make sure you use the right size screw.

So we need quite a long screw because that lugs a long way back now, but not too long because it can bottom out on the back of the box and in doing so when you try and tighten it up, it can actually pull the metal screw thread out of the plastic lug, which can be a real pain and nip it up tight but not too tight.

These are only plastic lugs and they can easily break and snap that's going to hold it nice and tight in place until that grip fill goes off.

Give it a good clean up now get rid of any of the residue of grip fill.

We don't want that on the wall.

That'll look messy, here's a picture of me using this method and a real job, and you can see how it looks when the wall has been plastered here.

We can see the back of the socket.


That's the one side I put a little bit of support on just as an example to show what you can do: press, lovely and tight against that the other side I didn't put any support on.

Sometimes you don't need to if your plastic is really deep, you won't be able to get that little bit of support on.

You have to rely on the lats that are in place.

This is just a mock-up in the real world.

This cable will be going through this sole plate into the back of the box.

I'll go through that in a short while, once it's all dry, we can remove our support and you can fill that back box.

Now, it's nice and tight.

It's not going to go anywhere that bit of a clean off, and then we can start to make good get some filler on get this as nice and flat as you possibly can take your time doing.

This live a little bit proud.

Then you can sand it flat and you really do want to take your time with this.

You only want to put it on in very thin layers because, when you've got to sand too much off, especially when you've got wallpaper on the wall, where the filler meets the wallpaper, you end up starting to rough on the wallpaper and damage the wallpaper put a bit on and scrape it off and get as flat as you can.

Sometimes this takes several hours to go off, so you can sand it.

It's got to be completely dry before you can sand it.

Otherwise, it'll just burn up.

So this is a slow process takes a long time.

That's why electrician's up and down to the decorator electricians will often do the first fill for the chases and they call it.

The final finish: they'll leave the final finish to the person who's doing the decorating.

But if you take your time, you can get some really good results, but you do have the issue of the lip of the plasterboard box.

The plasterboard box sits proud of the wall, so you get that little tiny plastic lip around it and you can kind of get away with that with kind of white plastic sockets.

If you're using metal flat plate sockets that little plastic lip doesn't look very nice at all, the actual box really needs to be buried and that can be done in latin plaster.

It does involve the wall needing a skim coat and it's a neatest way to get your sockets on, but you really need to recess this little box a bit.

If you just skim over the wall with a plasterboard box, without it being recessed slightly, you've only got a very, very thin layer of plaster over the plastic edges of the box and they can easily crumble and break away, and you often have to do filling afterwards.

It helps massively that the box is actually glued to the wall, so it doesn't move.

Plastering is a real skill which takes an edge to master serve, so you want to be getting a plaster and really not too difficult to do a little small chasers.

But when you're doing larger areas, that's hard work.

But here you go.

You can see I've put my first coat on.

Then it's just a bit of patience.

Then I put a second layer on then you can start working again it's smooth and with a bit of practice you can get some not bad results.

This is nice and flat around the socket and then when it's cut off, but it's not born dry.

I'd like to try and clean the box out and if it's completely solid dry, you can get little chips.

If it's just still a little bit of giving it, you can kind of cut around it with a knife and get it nice and smooth.

You still get a few little nicks, but they'll be hidden by the lip of the socket recessing and grip, filling the socket to give us a solid base to work from, and you can see, we've got a decent depth of plaster there, so hopefully that won't chip off.

But if something does come away, you can just do a little bit of surface fill make good that doesn't look too bad really does it.

So, as we mentioned earlier, we've got to get the cable in and obviously we want to do this before we get the box in, because we can use that little hole to read through and grab the cable.

But this is what we've got to get through.

The cable will run under the floorboard between the joists, but we've got to get through the floorboard we've got to get through the sole plate and we've got to get through that lumber plaster.

It's always at the bottom of latin plaster.

All the residue that fell off when it was originally plastered and that can be really solid and difficult to get through and enjoys, can run in different directions to the wall.

In the first example, the sole plate is going across the joists.

In the second example, the sole plate is going along the joist that can be a little bit tricky because you can't drill through the soleplate to get into the void under the floorboards.

But in that situation you can often get behind the skirting when the wall was originally plastered, it was often not plastered all the way down to the floorboards.

There's a gap for the skirting board and that can be quite useful.

You can angle a drill behind the skirting board and drill down through the floorboard to get your cable up behind the skirting and then you can get it through and into the latham plaster and out the hole for your socket it's a bit of a fiddle on, but it's possible.

Sometimes it's easy to take the skirting board off, get a thin bit of wire down connect it to your cable and pull it through, and here when the soleplate is going across the joists, you can cut out your hole for the socket.

You get a really long drill use a masonry drill, first, just to try and break up that bit of plaster underneath get that out the way.

Sometimes you have to pull a bit out with your hand, so you can get to the sole plate, then change it for a long wood drill and you can drill through the sole plate through the floorboard and then you can fish.

Your cable through.

Obviously, you've got to be careful, you're checking for pipes and wires and everything.

Then this is really dusty and dirty work so make sure you've got your ppe on face mask all that silica dust.

You don't want to be breathing all that in protect your eyes.

You know all the usual ppe stuff, so it can be a bit of a battle getting your cable through, but it's possible.

That's a video in itself, doing that which I think I'll probably do so.

That's how you fish your cable through under the void.

That's how I get a socket mounted in latin plaster wall.

If it all goes terribly wrong and it's just all, the plaster falls off what you can actually do cut a section of the lath out leave the section of lats that are running on leave that section nailed in so cut before the nail.

Then you can mount a metal socket on a noggin, put your plaster board over screw it to the studs and that might get out of trouble that way.

Thanks for watching, I really appreciate your comments and your likes.

I hope to see you on the next video.

Alright, thanks now, bye.


How to install a socket in lath and plaster.? ›

Place the tip of the bit against the center of the masking tape "X." Hold the drill steady and drill straight into the plaster. Don't press too hard; allow the drill bit to do the work. Stop drilling when the bit penetrates into the wall void. Withdraw the bit straight back out of the hole.

How do you drill anchors into plaster? ›

Place the tip of the bit against the center of the masking tape "X." Hold the drill steady and drill straight into the plaster. Don't press too hard; allow the drill bit to do the work. Stop drilling when the bit penetrates into the wall void. Withdraw the bit straight back out of the hole.

What is the best screw for lath and plaster? ›


One of the best anchors for plaster walls is the molly bolt, a metal sleeve put into a hole drilled in the plaster. Molly bolts can hold a lot of weight since they are sturdy and reliable. They function by expanding under the plaster.

What screws to use for plaster and lath? ›

Screws are your ultimate option for hanging things on plaster walls without picture rail. For lighter items, screwing into the plaster with a 1 1/4” drywall screw can get the job done. For heavy items, you can opt screws with masonry anchors.

Do I need anchors for plaster and lath walls? ›

When drilling into plaster, it is highly recommended to use a wall anchor. Wall anchors ensure that your screws for plaster wall hold properly and don't break the plaster around them.

What is the best tool to cut lath? ›

A diamond blade can also cut through metal lath, which was sometimes added over wood lath at corners and archways. Cutting with a grinder whips up tons of dust. You can also use an oscillating tool equipped with a diamond or carbide- grit blade, which will cut slower but with less mess.

How deep is plaster and lath? ›

A typical lath and plaster wall required a minimum of three coats of plaster, resulting in a dense, rock-hard coating nearly 1 inch thick. In combination with the lath framework beneath, lath and plaster together comes to about 1¼ inch thick.

How do you drill into plaster without cracking it? ›

Drill through the tape and into the plaster at the marked location. The tape prevents the plaster from cracking and flaking around the hole as you drill.

How much weight can lath and plaster hold? ›

Luckily, items can be hung from plaster walls, and in some cases, it's easier to hang things from plaster walls than it is drywall. The wood lath behind the plaster is strong and can support up to 25 lbs of weight, given the screw is driven directly into the wood.

Why can't I drill into my plaster wall? ›

Check Your Drill Rotation Direction. If your drill is set to rotate the wrong direction, it will be difficult for it to make any progress into the drywall (or plaster.) For the forward direction, the drill should rotate clockwise. If it's set to rotate counterclockwise, the drill will struggle to penetrate the wall.

Can you use self drilling anchors in plaster? ›

A word of caution, avoid the drywall anchors that are made to be installed without drilling. These self tapping anchors don't work on hard plaster walls. To put any anchor into plaster, you'll need to drill first.

Why is lath and plaster no longer used? ›

Lath and plaster was a skilled craft and a time-consuming technique and the advent of cheaper, mass produced, pre-manufactured plasterboard meant lath and plaster largely fell out of favour by the 1930s and 1940s. Plasterboard was simply faster and less expensive to install.

Are lath screws self drilling? ›

Teks lath screws provide secure metal-to-metal fastening with strong holding power, without the need to pre-drill.

Can lath and plaster hold a TV? ›

You most certainly can mount this on lath and plaster walls. The key is finding the studs - and honestly finding the center of the studs. The mount itself is really heavy, and then you're putting a heavy television on the end of a long lever.

What is a lathe screw? ›

Top Definition

This is a self-drilling Phillips round wafer head sheet metal screw. It is also referred to as a Sharp Point, Wafer, Peanut, SMS, RWH or a M/T head. It is used to attach lathe or Caddy® type fasteners to metals studs. It is a #8 screw in lengths from 9/16" to 1-1/4" but is usually ordered in 1/2".

Are lath and plaster walls load bearing? ›

A stud or partition wall, built with either plasterboard, or lath and plaster, is rarely constructed as a load-bearing structure. There are however exceptions to this – a stud wall may still help strengthen the structure of a building even though it may not technically be load-bearing (particularly in older homes).

Is drywall heavier than lath and plaster? ›

Lath and plaster walls are usually thicker than most drywall sheets. Fire-rated, or Type-X, drywall is 5/8-inch thick. Plaster is often thicker than this. When lath is figured into the thickness, then lath and plaster walls are considered to be thicker than drywall.

What is a Molly plug? ›

A molly or molly bolt (often misspelled moly) is a type of screw fastener that fastens objects to plaster or gypsum board hollow walls by providing an anchor to be lodged inside a hole and expanded once in position.

How far apart are studs in lath and plaster walls? ›

They're always spaced either 16 or 24 inches on center (measured from center to center) along the wall and run between the floor and ceiling. Drywall or lath (for plaster walls) attaches to the edge of the studs.

How far apart are studs in old plaster walls? ›

Most studs are sixteen inches apart on center. Since a stud will always be at the edge of a wall or window, you can measure away from the edge to where the next stud ought to be. 2. Measure from a light switch.

Do plaster walls have asbestos? ›

If the renovation year of your home falls between 1920 and 2000, it's also very likely that there could be dangerous levels of asbestos in your plaster walls. In addition, any plaster walls labeled as “fire-rated” are also more likely to contain asbestos.

What happens if you don't use drywall anchor? ›

“Because drywall is too weak to hang things from, a drywall anchor is necessary,” explains Matt Michaels, a spokesman for Lowe's Home Improvement in Charlotte, NC. The anchor essentially allows you to insert screws into the wall without causing the soft drywall to crumble around it.

Should I replace lath and plaster with drywall? ›

Since plaster is considered a higher quality material than drywall anyway, it should not be replaced with drywall in most situations. The one exception is if you're pulling down the walls to replace the plumbing and electrical systems anyway. In that case, it makes sense to replace with drywall.

How thick is a piece of lath? ›

Lath is used for stability in packages of finished lumber, both dressed and rough. Maximum and minimum thicknesses, widths and lengths are manufactured according to buyers' specifications; lath is typically 3/16 inch thick, 1 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch wide and 50 inch or 51 inch lengths.

What is use for lath screws? ›

Newport Fasteners Lath Screws provide metal to metal and metal to wood fastening with strong holding power, without the need to pre-drill!

Why use metal lath? ›

Metal lath is used as a platform to embed and attach the stucco cementitious membrane to the structural members of the building. Without the lath there would be little or no way to apply stucco to open frame or sheathed construction.

How long does lath and plaster last? ›

The lifespan of lath and plaster can extend across several centuries, if the property it is applied to is well-kept and maintained. However, the finish may require some repair work in this time to keep it in its ideal condition.

Do stud finders work on lath and plaster walls? ›

Lath and plaster walls have an irregular surface that are a problem for stud finders. As a result, your stud finder can show a false positive (a stud indication when it is actually not a stud) when it finds an increase in density, even if it is just a glob of plaster.

When was lath and plaster last used? ›

Lath and plaster is a technique which was used to finish interior walls and ceilings from the early-18th until the early-to-mid-20th century. It was then generally superseded by drywall techniques and plasterboard.

What drill bit to use on plaster? ›

What drill bits do you need for plasterboard? The best type of drill bit to use for plasterboard is a multi-use drill bit. However, you can also buy packs, which include a drill bit, wall anchors and screws, such as the Cobra nylon toggle multi-material fixing pack.

Why does plaster crack when drilling? ›

This can be due to climatic conditions such as excessive rains that may expose the area to humidity. Other issues such as water leakage or a pipe blockage can also be a common cause of such cracks. One of the obvious reasons for such cracks is using poor-quality plaster.

Should I drill pilot holes in plaster? ›

Plaster is a hard and friable (crumbles easy) material. Don't use pressure. If you are determined to use a screw in plaster instead of a hollow wall anchor. Select a drill bit as big as the shaft of the screw being used (solid part of the screw minus the treads) and gently drill a pilot hole.

What happens if lath and plaster gets wet? ›

If the wall is saturated with water, the wood lath behind the plaster will absorb water and begin to expand. As it expands, it pushes outward and can cause the wall to crack and weaken. If this happens, you will need to repair or replace the plaster wall.

Is it better to drill into plaster or drywall? ›

Drywall is softer and thinner than plaster walls, and nails can be hammered into drywall without usually causing damage. Plaster is more brittle and can crack or chip, so you will always want to pre-drill a hole in the plaster before adding any hardware, such as a nail, screw, or anchor.

Can I drywall over plaster and lath? ›

If your walls in your house are ugly or dull because of plaster that is past its prime or not to your taste, you can cover the plaster with drywall. It's as simple as just putting the drywall sheets right over old plaster. By using some sheets you can cover up old imperfections without a lot of complications.

Can you screw into plaster without anchor? ›

If you have plaster walls and you use a screw that is long enough to go into the lathe behind it, you should be fine. If you have drywall, and you are going to hang more than a few ounces off of it, you should either find a stud to screw into or use an anchor.

What to do when you can't drill? ›

To make a hole bigger without a drill there are various options that can be employed. You can use a mandrel (appropriate diameter) and sandpaper, a hand file, or a jab saw. It is also helpful to draw the size of the required diameter first then manually file the excess wood until the hole is the correct size.

What is behind plaster walls? ›

Modern plaster has a gypsum base, aggregate, water, and resin or acrylic components, rather than animal hair. It also sets and cures faster and is somewhat more resistant to moisture than traditional plaster. The installation process consists of three different layers: the scratch coat, brown coat, and veneer coat.

How much weight can a self drilling anchor hold? ›

Self-drilling anchors are rated to hold weights from 25 to 50 pounds, depending on the anchor's size and application.

Can you screw drywall to lath? ›

You can attach drywall directly to lath. Before builders started using drywall panels to construct smooth interior walls, the standard method of wall construction involved applying plaster over wood laths.

Do you need anchors for lath and plaster walls? ›

When drilling into plaster, it is highly recommended to use a wall anchor. Wall anchors ensure that your screws for plaster wall hold properly and don't break the plaster around them.

Can you patch lath and plaster with drywall? ›

Hold drywall patch against plaster wall, and mark its outline with utility knife. Using a utility knife, score the plaster along the patch outline. Pry off the loose plaster with a painter's tool; clean up the debris. Set the drywall patch against the wall and secure it with 1 ¼-inch drywall screws.

Can you hammer a screw into plaster? ›

Screws (and screws with masonry anchors for heavy items) are your best choice for hanging things on plaster walls without picture rail. For lighter items, simply screwing into the plaster with a 1 1/4” drywall screw is usually enough to get the job done.

Can you put 1 4 inch drywall over plaster? ›

If your walls in your house are ugly or dull because of plaster that is past its prime or not to your taste, you can cover the plaster with drywall. It's as simple as just putting the drywall sheets right over old plaster. By using some sheets you can cover up old imperfections without a lot of complications.

Are lath screws strong? ›

Newport Fasteners Lath Screws provide metal to metal and metal to wood fastening with strong holding power, without the need to pre-drill! Self Tapping threads ensure strong holding power while the 305 stainless steel provides the corrosion resistance that will help keep your project last for years.

What is the purpose of lath screws? ›

K-lath screws are essential for many different fastening jobs involving metal lath. They are typically used for attaching pre-drilled metal brackets to post-framing, stucco/plaster applications and any general-purpose application that requires a wide, low-profile head.

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