Complete guide to using wall anchors, British property transaction, New house purchase

A Complete Guide to Using Wall Anchors

23 January 2024

While upgrading your home, you might need to hang a beautiful painting or a shelf against a wall. Fabricated from gypsum plaster and paper, although drywalls are perfect for soundproofing, they might not serve as a good base for hanging objects. Therefore, screws alone are not sufficient for fastening objects to drywalls. This is where wall anchors play their role. In this article, let’s have a look at different types of anchors and their working.

What are wall anchors?

Drywall anchors, also known as wall plugs, are hollow attachments that are inserted into the wall along with a screw to support anything mounted on the wall. These are:

  • Self-expanding structures
  • Usually made of plastic or metal
  • Specially designed to support screws

In the absence of these expansion anchors, screws or nails may unscrew themselves from the drywall.

Complete guide to using Wall Anchors

How do wall anchors work?

As the name suggests, drywall anchors act as:

  • an “anchor” or
  • a “support”

for screws that you have to insert into the wall. You can drive these anchors into the walls by drilling a hole, more precisely a “pilot hole,” and then insert the screw to attach the object. When you drive the screw through the anchor, it expands within the pilot hole, thereby providing a secure and strong grip.

What are the different types of wall anchors?

There are different types of such anchors. Each comes with its benefits and drawbacks. However, you can choose the right types based on:

  • The size of the object you want to support
  • The requirement of your project

Have a look at the different types of wall anchors below.

Threaded Anchors

Threaded anchors, also known as self-threading or self-tapping anchors, are usually made of:

  • Hard plastic or
  • Metal.

The sharp shafts of this self-drilling anchor do not require a pre-drilled pilot hole. Therefore, simply use a screwdriver to push them into the wall. Upon inserting the screw, the arms of the wall plug expand, securing it further into the wall.


  • Avoid over-tightening the anchor, as it can damage the wall.
  • Turn the anchor anti-clockwise to remove it from the wall.


  • Threaded anchors can help lift relatively heavier objects weighing 25-75 pounds.
  • They do not require a pre-drilled hole for insertion.
  • They are the best option for hanging pictures and mirrors.


  • They are only used to hang objects against walls and are not suitable for hanging objects on interior ceilings.

Self-Drilling Wall Anchors

Self-drilling anchors are fabricated from zinc-plated steel. They are tubular and comprise the following parts:

  • Sacrificial drill bit
  • Hollow steel bar
  • Coupling nuts

Self-drilling anchors are steel rods with a sacrificial drill bit and a nut present at one end. In addition, they possess an external circular thread. The sacrificial drill bit makes these anchors unique from other types that comprise the classic drill bit.

The sharp tip creates its hole into the wall via rotary percussive drilling. Following insertion, the toggle bar drops in place. When you loosen the screw, the toggle drops, facilitating the anchor to be removed.


  • Self-drilling anchors are rust-resistant.
  • They are flexible and have increased stability.
  • They can support a weight of up to 100 pounds.
  • They are versatile.
  • Installation does not require pre-drilling.


  • Self-drilling anchors are relatively expensive.


Mollies or molly bolts are the commonly used anchors for attaching moderately heavy items. Just like typical anchors, mollies secure them by expanding against the walls of the hole in which they are inserted. They stay in place because of the tension created by these arms.


  • Molly bolts can support objects weighing 25-50 pounds.
  • They are used for hanging objects to ceilings.
  • They are also a good option for supporting smoke alarms and picture frames.
  • They are cost-effective.


  • Installation requires a special pre-drilling tool.
  • Removing mollies is difficult as you need to cut them and force them out of the hole.

Toggle Bolts

Toggle bolts or toggle anchors are fabricated from zinc-plated or stainless steel. Toggle bolts comprise two parts:

  • A bolt
  • A pair of spring-activated wings

They work efficiently to attach lighter objects. For inserting a toggle bolt, follow these steps:

Step 1: Drill a hole: First, drill a hole into the wall. Make sure the hole is three times the size of the bolt you have to install.

Step 2: Twist: Twist the bolt to release the wings that are initially folded flat against the anchor.

Step 3: Tighten: Tighten the anchor using a screwdriver while ensuring it remains straight.


  • Toggle bolts are corrosion-free.
  • The wings of the bolts help spread the weight uniformly.
  • Toggle bolts are the strongest of all drywall plugs.
  • They can support objects weighing around 50 pounds.


  • Installation is a bit challenging, as estimating the right pilot hole size is tricky.

Expansion Anchors

Expansion anchors are made of plastic, have serrated bodies, and split down the center. They are also commonly used. You can simply insert the expansion anchor into the wall by drilling a pilot hole and pushing it into the hole. For removal, simply insert a screw into the anchor and pull it out by gripping it with pliers.


  • Expansion anchors are versatile.
  • They are easy to install.
  • They are inexpensive.
  • They can bear approximately 25 pounds of weight.
  • They are best for supporting lightweight objects like small shelves and mirrors.


  • They are not as strong as metal anchors.
  • These anchors do not support heavy objects.

Complete guide to using wall anchors Conclusion

Wall anchors or wall plugs are hollow structures used as a support for inserting screws into the walls. You have to drill a pilot hole to install them. After being inserted, their arms expand against the hole’s walls and secure themselves.

Based on the weight of the object you want to hang, you can choose the right type of wall plug from the different types available. These include threaded anchors, self-drilling anchors, mollies, toggle bolts, or expansion anchors.

Comments on this guide to Complete guide to using wall anchors article are welcome.

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