Home>Discussions>BATHROOMS>How do you attach things to metal lath walls in the bathroom
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eliz
How do you attach things to metal lath walls in the bathroom
eliz

We are in the process of trying to do a "simple" cosmetic update on our bathroom. We have discovered the hard way that the walls in the bathroom are different form the rest of the house and are made with what appears to be metal lath.
The house was built in the mid 40s in south west VA, most of the walls are made with rock lath and have some spots with metal wire similar to gauge of chicken wire. The walls in the bathroom we have are very different with a cement like plaster that is pressed into a very heavy gauge mesh metal.
We are having a terrible time trying to attach anything to the walls, including the new vanity, We have tried tapcon screws as well as a few other items. We were planning on using molly anchors but we can not drill through the metal.
Does anyone have any experience with this material? We can not use old holes either, since the only things that were ever in the wall were attached to the old wood "chair rail".

dj1
Re: How do you attach things to metal lath walls in the bathroom
dj1

"Can't drill into the metal"?

Why not? try high speed metal bits. You first use a masonry bit till you reach metal, then use a metal bit.

Clarence
Re: How do you attach things to metal lath walls in the bathroom
Clarence

Keenes Cement was used in bathrooms in 1940 the lath could be High Rib , Flat Rib or Diamond Mesh ?
Being metal was hard to get in the 40's due to WWII it may have been installed at a later date.
For your anchor look at using something like.
Toggle Bolts - Strap Toggles - Hollow Wall Anchors
There is also a bolt that uses Epoxy that is squeezed thru a screen for attachment to the back side of the wall panel.
Check the Hilti products.

Mastercarpentry
Re: How do you attach things to metal lath walls in the bathroom
Mastercarpentry

Toggle bolts are the solution here, just make sure there's clearance for them and that they have long enough screws. To drill I stay with the masonry bit. There's still enough cementitious material in there to quickly dull a high-speed steel bit. Once I hit the metal expanded metal lath and the drilling action stops, I maintain pressure on the drill with one hand, using the other to 'bump' the drill inward intermittently. If you push hard you can get the same results but then it will break through all at once out of control, possibly harming something in the wall or the face of the tile where the chuck hits it. With 'bumping' you maintain better control of the drill. Sometimes you drill through and sometimes the bit stretches the lath apart for it's diameter causing some of the brown-coat to come away from the lath in the wall. I have not found that to become a practical problem, but sometimes you will need to fashion a hook out of something (like a coat-hanger) and pull the lath back to the brown-coat so the toggle has room to expand.

Another trick I use when hard-push drilling on finished surfaces is to first drill a similar-sized hole in a small piece of plywood, sticking this over the bit so that if it does break through unexpectedly the plywood, not the drill chuck, hits the surface hopefully saving it. It's saved my bacon a number of times!

Phil

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