How to Use Drywall Anchors in Your Home

Sara Mandeed
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What is a Drywall Anchor?

First, let’s talk anchors. Drywall anchors are devices used to secure items to drywall. They were designed to keep in mind a basic principal in construction “ load on the weak party. If you consider the way that drywall is structured, you can see the logic in this principle. Although drywall is made up of a combination solid and gypsum, it doesn’t have a lot of strength. The standard drywall you find in most homes will only be able to support about 30 pounds of pressure per square foot. Some of the thicker and stronger types of drywall can support a bit more but not by much.

The most popular type of drywall anchor relies on screws to connect the anchor to drywall. Other types of drywall anchors will be screw free, relying on built in expansion features or adhesives to stay in place.

The majority of drywall anchors have two prongs. However, sometimes one prong is not enough to keep an item in place. In these cases, you will find anchors that have extended prongs to provide extra strength and stability.

What Type of Drywall Anchor Should I Choose?

There are a number of factors to take into account when deciding on the right drywall anchor for your project. Your choice of anchor will depend on the application.

Placement – In this instance, you’re placing a drywall anchor to mount a support picture frame molding. Since you’ll be driving it into a drywall joint, you’ll want to choose an anchor with a shoulder that will wedge between the two walls, holding the anchor in place.

Load – If you’re attaching a long picture frame molding, you’ll want to make sure it is securely fastened to the wall.

Installation Temperature – Most drywall anchors are manufactured using heat-treated steel. This is important to note because if the piece is going to be painted over then you can chill the anchor by dipping it in ice water to prevent cracking the paint.

Shape of Mounting Hole – Make sure the anchor you choose will fit your mounting hole. Each product is carefully designed around the size of that particular mounting hole.

Installation Method – There are a number of ways to install a drywall anchor. Most involve a hammer like device.

Expansion Anchors

These are the most basic type of anchors. These anchors are used when a metal framing or stud is available to embed the anchor into. Because the anchor is embedded into a framing component, it will give the best support. They are also ideal for a concrete or block wall.

When these anchors are thrown into the drywall, holes are created. In the wall, there are two components that allow the anchor to apply pressure to the drywall. The first is an expanding collar that expands to 17 times its original diameter once activated. The second is called the rod or vertical load component. This is the element of the anchor that transfers the load to the drywall. This part is made of metal and extends from the wall to the anchor to complete the load transfer.

The expanding process on this type of anchor would be a little time consuming. But there are some good reasons for that. The expansion process compresses the anchor into the framing component to create a very tight fit. This creates a solid hold that doesn’t cause the anchor to loosen up and become susceptible to failure.

Spiral anchors

I’ve seen spiral anchors used to hold shelves to a wall. I’m guessing you’ve seen them as well, probably holding bins onto a pantry door. They work the same, and they work really well.

First, drill a hole into the stud. Make sure the hole is big enough to fit over the anchor and that it’s angled towards the middle of the stud. Next, line up the anchor over the hole. You’ll need to brace it against the wall to do this.

Now, it’s best to use a hammer drill to pound the anchors into place. You should keep one hand on the anchor as you do this to stabilize it. After you’ve pounded the anchor all the way into the stud, pull the anchor back through the hole until it’s sitting on the wall. Now, put a screw through it and screw it into the plywood or particle board shelf.

If you’re using a nail, pound the nail through the shelf into the anchor. If you’re using a screw, start it into the shelf and then screw it into the anchor.

WallClaw Anchors

So far in this article, we have discussed types of screws, spade bits, and hollow wall anchors. We have also discussed how to install those different types of anchors. So now I will discuss the installation of a product called a WallClaw anchor.

The WallClaw Anchor is very similar to a hollow wall anchor except it has spiral wings that are inserted into the hole made in the wall by a spade bit. The circular wing design allows the anchor to be screwed perfectly flush with the wall stud. It is very important that it be flush with the wall or it will be all but useless.

The WallClaw anchor is available in a few different sizes, so you need to select the correct size before installing. You can get that information from the packaging or from the manufacturer’s web site.

Installation is easy. The anchor is inserted into two holes that are drilled into the stud in the wall. You then screw the anchor tight into the wall, and it grips the drywall anchor securely, preventing it from moving or spinning while you install the screws.

How Do I Use Drywall Anchors?

Drill a hole in your wall you’re planning to hang your picture or painting. If you’re not sure where to guide the drill bit, hold your picture up to the wall and mark the edges. Using a ruler, measure one inch up and down from this mark and make another mark. Place your drill bit into your drill and drill another hole; it should look like a “|” shape. You’ll want to do this on both side of where you’re planning to hang your picture.

Place the screw into the screw hole on the first side. Use the drill bit to drill a hole on the other side. Make sure the screw is appropriately centered or it won’t line up with the screw hole on the opposite side. This will ensure that the two pieces of drywall are connected properly.

Apply pressure to the two pieces of drywall until you hear a click. This means that the screw has been properly attached to the stud. Remove the picture hanger and place the picture on the wall, then repeat on the other side.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are all kinds of questions floating around about drywall anchors. Just a few of the most common include:

  • · Does the drywall anchor go into the wall or into the item I’m hanging?
  • · Will the anchor hold a heavy heavy item?
  • · How do I get the anchor into the wall?

Fortunately, the answers to these questions and more can be found below, along with some tips and tricks to help you choose the best drywall anchors for your next project.

Can drywall anchors be used in wood?

It’s true that concrete is rock hard and therefore there is no give, but wood is softer than concrete and flexible, which gives it the strength to handle the pressure. Wood has a tensile strength of 3 psi and a compressive strength of about 2,300 psi, so it is not weak by any stretch of the imagination. Also, look at the historical context. This question would have been irrelevant if you went back in time to the origins of the drywall screw … so it’s a good sign that you can use drywall fasteners in wood.

Another thing to consider with this question is that the role of a wood screw or a drywall anchor is completely different in each application. Think of laying a brick wall vs a framed wall. The wood has the tensile strength while the screws are intended to pull together the framing members, which is where drywall screws excel. Wood screws have a similar holding strength to drywall screws at 100 psi to 180 psi, and they have more holding power than drywall screws at 320 psi. Finally, the drywall anchor has a much higher holding power of around 5,000 psi (although this is in concrete) than the 600 psi holding strength of the wood screw.

Given all the information, it’s clear that you can use a drywall screw in wood but not vice versa.

Can drywall anchors hold a TV?

Drywall anchors are small metal devices attached to the back of a television’s base or to the wall. There are four types of drywall anchors of which two are most commonly used.

The two most common anchors are the toggle bolt and the molly bolt. The toggle bolt anchors to the wall using a spring-loaded metal clamp that folds over itself. The molly bolt is a screw with a metal sleeve that expands and anchors to the wall.

Toggle bolts are used for heavier items that weigh over 40 pounds that need extra support like flat screen TVs and large mirrors. In some instances, a washer can be added to the back of the TV for additional support.

This is the most common anchor that you will see attached to the back of a TV as it can hold up to 66 pounds. This is ideal for most 42”-55” flat panel TV’s that weigh less than 40 pounds.

The toggle bolt works by using a spring-loaded metal to clamp onto the device being hung then clamps down on the screw and anchor pushing a drywall anchor into the wall.

Can drywall anchors be reused?

There are basically two types of anchors for many purposes, but they’re not interchangeable. It’s important to check for the type of anchor before you purchase.

The first is a toggle bolt anchor, and the second is a screw-in anchor. The toggle bolt anchor is generally meant to be permanent, while the screw-in is meant for repeated uses.

Typically, anchors can be reused one time. But if you’re using a screw-in anchor, unless you have a need for a second hold in that same place, you’re either using an anchor in a location that makes it impractical to reinstall or you’re creatively modifying your use for your project. Then you can reuse the screw-in anchor.

Otherwise, you’re just wasting money and time. These anchors are not inexpensive. They can be as much as 40 percent of your total drywall costs.

There are some circumstances where you may want to reuse a toggle bolt anchor. If you’re hanging something that is relatively light and you don’t want to mess with getting another one, removing the toggle can be done fairly easily.

Drywall Anchors for Everyday Use

The concept of drywall anchors is nothing new. They have been existing for a very long time and have been used in many different ways.

You can easily install drywall anchors or commonly know as Mollys into your wall without much hassle. So if you want to use in your home, you should go for it and place it wherever you want.

With that said, here are a few reasons why you should choose drywall anchors for your home. These are the following:

They are more versatile than adhesive anchors. While adhesive anchors like the D rings can only be used in one way and attaching the anchor into the wall is only one way, you can use the standard drywall anchors in your home in a variety of ways.

They have larger striking surface. When you use the drywall anchors in your home you can use the anchors with a tape or without. In some cases, you can even use the screws and the anchors. So if you want to attach the item and you want to attach the item without having any hassle, this kind of anchor can do all for you.

They are very durable. Since you're using this kind of anchor in your home, you will need to attach something heavy like the television. So you'll need something very durable to hold the weight. Then the drywall anchors are the most suitable for that kind of job.