This will depend on what type of drywall you have and the anchor you use. In general, thin drywall can handle up to 1.6 pounds per square foot, while thick drywall can handle up to 2.1 pounds of drywall per square foot.
However, the answer isn’t always cut and dry. Here are other considerations you need to make and how to get your drywall to hold more weight.
Things to Consider Before Hanging Items
If you want to hang lightweight picture frames on the wall, you shouldn’t have much problem using only a nail. However, if you’re trying to hang heavy objects or ones that don’t lie flat, you’ll need to use anchors or drill into a stud.
This is because heavy items cause a lot of tension.
Tension happens when an object pulls down on the wall. Some level of tension occurs with every item that you hang – and the heavier the object, the more tension there will be.
When an object pulls forward on the nail, this is called shear. Protruding objects like shelves, planters, or 3D art, cause tension and shear, which is why more preparation is needed.
Types of Drywall Anchors
If you use the right kind of anchor, your drywall can handle quite a bit of weight, even without finding a stud.
Here are the most popular drywall anchors, how much weight they can handle, and the best uses for them.
Type of Anchor
Picture frame hanger and nail
Medium to heavy picture frames, mirrors, flat artwork
Expanding plastic sleeves
Heavy picture frames, mirrors, small/light shelving
Shelving, heavy frames and mirror,
Shelving, racks, art, mirrors, frames
All-purpose, heavy picture frames, mirrors, artwork
When choosing an anchor, you need to account for any extra weight. For example, if you’re hanging a shelf, account for the weight of the shelf plus the items you’ll be putting on it.
Also, when you purchase the anchor, make sure you check the package to ensure it will support the weight of the item you need to hang.
How Much Weight Can Drywall Hold with Anchors?
Drywall anchors can hold up to 100 lbs. If you have a hefty item, your safest bet is to distribute its weight by using multiple drywall anchors to support it.
How Much Weight Can Drywall Hold with a Nail?
If you want to hang items on your drywall with a nail, it won’t be able to handle more than a few pounds. Nails are fine for lightweight picture frames and artwork, but you should use an anchor for anything more than five pounds.
How Much Weight Can Drywall Hold with Plastic Screws?
Plastic drywall screws can hold up to 25 lbs. These work well for moderately heavy picture frames, mirrors, and artwork.
How Much Weight Can Drywall Hold Horizontally?
If you drill into a stud, drywall can hold quite a bit of weight horizontally. If you don’t have a stud to drill into, your best bet is to spread out the weight distribution by using multiple drywall anchors.
For a heavy item, use an appropriate anchor such as a self-drilling anchor, molly bolt, or toggle bolt (depending on the item.)
How Much Weight Can Drywall Hold From the Ceiling?
Without an anchor or drilling into a joist, your ceiling can’t hold much weight. And if you hang something more than a couple of pounds, there’s a good chance it will fall, and you’ll end up with a hole in the ceiling.
Luckily, you can use most drywall anchors in the ceiling. However, they can only support about ⅓ of the weight they would on a regular wall. That means if you have an anchor that says it can hold 30 lbs, it will only hold 10lbs on the ceiling.
The best way to hang something from a ceiling is to hang it from a joist. If you can’t find a joist or it’s not in the area you need, your second best option is a toggle bolt.
Drywall is thin, and without an anchor, it can’t support more than a few pounds worth of weight. So, if you need to hang a heavy item, drill into a stud or use an appropriate drywall anchor.
Always remember to account for an item’s total weight before choosing your anchor. And if there are kids in your home, make sure that heavy objects are securely attached to the wall – especially if they’re in reach.