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How to Use Drywall Anchors

How to Use Drywall Anchors: Step-by-Step Guide

How to Use Drywall Anchors: Your Ultimate Guide to Hanging Anything Securely

Drywall anchors are the unsung heroes of home décor and organization. They’re the small, often overlooked components that ensure your mirrors, shelves, and art stay firmly attached to the wall. If you’ve ever wondered how to use these nifty little devices, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or just getting into home improvement projects, knowing the intricacies of drywall anchors can save you from wall disaster (we’ve all been there!).

In this comprehensive guide, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about drywall anchors. From understanding the different types to step-by-step installation guides, we’ll have you hanging confidently. We’ll also cover common mistakes and provide tips that even the most experienced DIYers might not know.

Are you ready to learn the secret to hanging anything securely on your walls? Read on for our best tips on how to use drywall anchors.

Types of Drywall Anchors You Need to Know

Before you start any project, it’s crucial to select the right type of drywall anchor. The kind of anchor you choose will depend on the weight of the item you’re hanging and the location of the wall.

Expansion Anchors: The Basic Workhorse

Expansion anchors are one of the most common types, known for their simple but effective design. They consist of a sleeve, a screw, and a cone-shaped nut. When the screw is driven into the anchor, the nut forces the sleeve to expand against the backside of the drywall, providing a secure grip. These are perfect for lighter loads and are straightforward to install.

Toggle Bolts: Heavy-Duty Wall Warriors

Toggle bolts are the heavy lifters of the drywall anchor family. They’re designed to hold substantial weight and are often used for supporting items like large mirrors or heavy shelving. Toggle bolts work by spring-loading wings that open inside the wall when they are inserted. Once fully inside, the wings spring open and provide a solid brace against the back of the drywall.

Self-Drilling Anchors: For the Time-Pressed DIYer

Self-drilling anchors, also known as threaded drywall anchors, are a hybrid of expansion anchors and toggle bolts. They are favored by those who want a balance of weight capacity and ease of installation. The point of these anchors is that they can be directly drilled into the drywall, eliminating the need to pre-drill any holes, and offer a reliable hold.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Drywall Anchors

Now that you’re familiar with the types, it’s time to walk through the process of actually using drywall anchors. Follow these steps for a secure installation:

1. Selecting the Right Anchor for the Job

Weight is your primary consideration when selecting a drywall anchor. If you’re putting up a lightweight picture frame, an expansion anchor should suffice. For heavier items or objects that get moved around a lot, you might opt for toggle bolts. Always err on the side of caution and choose an anchor with a higher weight limit than you think you need — better safe than sorry.

2. Preparing the Wall Surface

Clean the area where you plan to install the anchor to ensure a smooth surface. Use a level to mark guide points and double-check measurements. If necessary, use a stud finder to check for solid wood behind the drywall. If there’s a stud where you plan to install, you may not need an anchor at all.

How to Use Drywall Anchors (2)

3. Installing the Anchor

For expansion anchors, use the provided drill bit size to create a hole. For toggle bolts, you’ll need a larger hole that corresponds to the closed position of the toggle. Self-drilling anchors require no pre-drilled hole — simply screw them into the wall until they are flush.

4. Securing the Fixture

After the anchor is in place, attach the fixture using the screws or rods that are designed to work with your anchor. Always follow the weight capacity guidelines provided by the manufacturer to ensure the safety and longevity of your hanging objects.

Tips for Success with Drywall Anchors

Even with the best-laid plans, there are some extra considerations that can make your project go even more smoothly.

Weight Capacity Considerations

It’s crucial to know the weight of what you’re hanging. Be mindful of the weight capacity listed for the specific anchor you’re using. Remember, this should include the weight of the item and anything it might hold, like books or contents.

Proper Tools and Techniques

Use the recommended tools for installation, whether it’s a drill, screwdriver, or even a hammer. Proper installation ensures that the anchors are set up to carry the intended load.

When in Doubt, Reinforce with Multiple Anchors

For very heavy items or those that will support dynamic loads, consider using multiple anchors for added security. More anchors distribute the load and can prevent unexpected failures.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

There are plenty of ways to go wrong when using drywall anchors. Here are a few common missteps to steer clear of:


Tightening the fixture too much can create a gap between the fixture and the wall, which can lead to instability. Follow manufacturer recommendations for the appropriate torque when securing the fixture.

Incorrect Anchor Selection

Choosing the wrong anchor can lead to a variety of issues, from poor holding power to damage of the drywall. Make sure you understand the load requirements and are using the right anchor for the job.

Hanging On Weak Spots

Drywall anchors should never be installed over existing holes or damage in the drywall. These areas are already weaker and not suitable for securing a drywall anchor.


Understanding and mastering the use of drywall anchors is an essential skill for any homeowner or DIY enthusiast. By choosing the right type of anchor, properly preparing and installing them, and considering weight capacities, you can ensure that your projects are not only secure but also a source of pride.

Drywall anchors open up a world of possibilities, allowing you to hang everything from small light fixtures to large pieces of furniture. The key is to take your time, select the appropriate hardware, and always be mindful of the weight and placement of your items. Happy hanging!

About the Author

Alvin Stevenson is an advanced drywall repair and installation expert with over 20 years of experience working in both residential homes and commercial buildings.

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