Drywall Anchors

What Are Drywall Anchors?

Anytime you need to hang something on the wall, and it’s not convenient to drill into a stud, you should use a drywall anchor.

But what are drywall anchors?

Drywall anchors can be metal or plastic and go into the wall before a screw or bolt. Unlike a standard nail, these anchors grip the drywall, offering firm support to hang pictures, mirrors, and decor.

However, not all drywall anchors are the same. There are five basic types of anchors, each with its own weight limits and specifications.

Here’s what you should know.

Do I Need Drywall Anchors?

Drywall is brittle, and when you use a nail to hang an item, the force can stress the drywall, causing the nail to slip out. So, while it’s ideal to use drywall anchors to hang heavier objects, you can usually get away with using only a nail for items less than five pounds.

If you have heavier items, you need to use a drywall anchor or drill directly into a stud. Drywall anchors help spread the weight of an object so they’re likely to break through the wall.

The Five Types Of Drywall Anchors

Expansion Anchors

Expansion Anchors

Expansion anchors have a plastic sleeve and a screw. You commonly see these with curtain rods or paper towel holders. 

When installing these, the plastic expansion piece goes into the wall first. Then, you insert your screw, and as you do so, the plastic anchor expands, gripping the wall.

Expansion anchors are the least strong type of drywall anchor. They hold anywhere from 10-30 lbs. 

Pull-Toggle Drywall Anchors

Pull-Toggle Drywall Anchors

Pull-toggle anchors combine plastic anchors and toggle bolts. To use these, first, place the toggle in a pre-drilled pilot hole and then pull the strap to secure it.

The attached plastic strap holds the metal plate in place, and you then screw in your bolt.

This type of anchor can hold higher weights, ideal for items like TVs and mirrors. (However, you’ll still want to check the package for specific weight limits.)

Toggle Bolts

Toggle Bolts

Toggle bolts have been around for a long time. They work similarly as a pull-toggle drywall anchor.

Only they’re spring-loaded rather than having a plastic strap attached to them.

Toggle bolts require larger pilot holes than many other types of anchors. Most toggle bolts can hold 30 to 50 pounds of weight.

Self-Drilling Drywall Anchors

Self-Drilling Drywall Anchors

Self-drilling anchors have a drill tip that allows you to screw them in the wall with a screwdriver. These anchors grip the drywall for a stronghold.

You can insert your fastener after you put the anchor in the wall.

You can find self-drilling anchors in plastic or metal. While these are easy to install, they aren’t the best choice for super heavy items.

Metal Anchors/Molly Bolts

Metal Anchors Molly Bolts

Metal anchors or Molly Bolts resemble classic drywall anchors but can hold a much heavier load. To use a Molly Bolt (a type of hollow wall anchor), screw it in a pre-drilled pilot holt.

It will expand on the other side of the wall, allowing for a lot of support.

Most metal anchors can hold up to 50 pounds.

How Do You Use Drywall Anchors?

Using drywall anchors is relatively easy and usually comes down to three steps:

  1. Predrill a pilot hole. Refer to the package for the proper drill bit size. If you’re using self-drilling anchors, use a screwdriver to screw it into the wall.
  2. Install the anchor. Refer to the package for installation directions. Setting the anchor will usually require screwing it in, tapping it in, or pulling a toggle.
  3. Install the fastener. Now it’s time to screw in your fastener or screw. (The exception is toggle bolts. These need to be placed together with the item you’re hanging.)

How Much Weight Can Drywall Hold Without An Anchor?

Without an anchor, drywall can typically hold less than five pounds. But really, this will depend on the type of item you’re hanging and the thickness of your drywall.

For example, objects that pull forward like a shelf or 3D decor will be more likely to rip the nail out of the wall than a small picture frame – even if they weigh the same amount.

What Can I Use Instead Of Drywall Anchors?

If you don’t have a drywall anchor, you can use a screw placed into a wall stud. Unlike brittle gypsum drywall, a stud can securely hold heavy-duty items without special anchors.

Why Do My Drywall Anchors Keep Pulling Out?

The number one reason drywall anchors pull from the wall is that they have too much weight on them. This is especially the case for standard plastic anchors.

So your best bet is to replace your weak anchor with something stronger.

Can You Reuse Drywall Anchor Holes?

Yes, sometimes you can reuse drywall anchor holes. For example, if you’ve taken out a plastic anchor, you can probably replace it with another plastic or metal anchor without a problem.

But if the wall or hole was damaged when you removed the anchor, then you probably shouldn’t.

Final Thoughts

Drywall anchors are crucial if you’re hanging items on the wall and can’t locate a stud. There are several types to choose from based on what you’re hanging and personal preferences.

The standard plastic anchors you often see don’t hold much weight and are ideal for lightweight items like picture frames and curtain rods. If you need to hang a heavier object, go for toggle bolts, pull-toggles, or metal anchors.