Long before the advent of drywall, using plaster to coat walls was a common practice. Homeowners and contractors covered masonry walls with a cement-based material to hide the structure. Applying plaster over thin strips of wood, called lath became the practice in more modern wood-frame houses. Coating a wall with plaster gave the room a finished appearance. Drilling holes in a plaster wall is necessary to hang pictures, decorations or a television.
Equip a power drill with a carbide drill bit. A regular drill bit will dull when drilling through plaster or break if a masonry wall is behind the plaster.
Place a piece of masking tape over the area you are drilling. Masking tape prevents the plaster from chipping away at the edges of the hole.
Set the drill to its lowest speed setting. Drilling slowly helps to prevent surface cracks, chips and plaster disintegration around the edges of the hole.
Hold the drill straight and keep it steady. Do not exert force onto the drill. Allow the drill to work its way through the plaster. After drilling the hole, set the drill to rotate counterclockwise and back the drill bit out of the wall.
Locate wall studs prior to drilling when hanging items on wood frame walls. The studs will hold the decoration more securely. Always use a wall anchor when hanging items on plaster walls. Wall anchors help to hold the decoration in place while taking the stress off the plaster. Wear safety glasses and a dust mask when drilling plaster walls.