Can you mount heavy items on walls without 2x4's?

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Posted by: from Ottawa
10/13/2014 at 2:09:22 PM


I've lived in this apartment for a couple years and I have mounted at least 10 items, from shelves to pictures, and even a 40" television. I have looked for studs for many of these items, even using a stud finder a couple of times, but in place of the stud has been some kind of metal strip (with no wood behind it).

Up until now, I opted to just buy heavy-duty drywall anchors, but as I am trying to mount a larger television, the wall mount requires the stability of a 2x4 or concrete. So, my living room now looks like a scene from Scarface (minus the blood), due to my relentless search for a real wooden stud. I am by no means a handy-man, but I do have decades of experience mounting things and I've never come across anything like this.

The building is 21 years old with 9' ceilings, and the drywall has was aligned horizontally (one sheet on top of the other) as opposed to vertically (one sheet beside the other)--which I find odd to begin with. With a couple good strikes, a nail can easily puncture the metal strips, which are aligned vertically, seemingly in place of where one would expect to find standard 2x4's (and not in line with the sheets of drywall). There is nothing but air behind the horizontal point halfway down the wall, where the sheets of drywall meet.

So, is there such a thing as a wall without 2x4's (that isn't concrete)? And, if so, does anyone have any suggestions on how to mount a 50lbs television on such a wall?

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Date/Time10/13/2014 at 2:54:40 PM

Hello James,

What you are running into is what is called metal studs. These are the same size as traditional wood studs except they extruded in a u shape to different lengths. They should be 16" on center as standard building practices.

What I suggest you do in this case is by a piece of 3/4'" thick plywood at least 18" wide by whatever height you need to accept the TV mounted bracket prime and paint the same colour as the wall. Mount the plywood to a lease 2 studs ( Thats wide the wood is 18" wide ) with metal drywall screws use lots of them in the studs. Once that is done you can mount the TV bracket to the plywood with wood screws.

Hope this helps.

Rene Rozon

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James in Ottawa
Date/Time10/13/2014 at 3:17:48 PM

Thanks Rene. I was afraid of that, but I suppose it's better to be safe than sorry.

Any opinion on "up to 75 lbs" drywall anchors?

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Dave from 360renos in Navan
Date/Time10/13/2014 at 3:25:57 PM

Hi James,

Rene is absolute right ...steel studs are what your walls are framed with.

You can get a stud finder that will locate metal studs.

I would not take a chance with heavy duty wall anchors. Your tv wall mount most likely came with screws to use with wood or concrete. I would use Rene's suggestion of a piece of plywood attached to the metal studs and then the tv wall mount attached to the plywood with the supplied mounting screws.

A 2 part sub-floor screw has some great holding power with metal studs that you could use to attach the plywood with.



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James in Ottawa
Date/Time10/14/2014 at 2:36:10 PM

Well, I guess that settles it.

Thank you Dave. I'm sure you and Rene have saved me a television :-)

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HRR Services Renovation Specialists in Brampton
Date/Time10/14/2014 at 6:14:10 PM


We concur with Rene and Dave as your option, other than reframing that section (cut out that part of the wall and attach 2x4s to the metal studs, then replace the drywall) which would guarantee stability.

Good Luck,


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