Anchoring into Drywall
Packages of drywall fasteners often refer to terms such as tensile strength, pullout resistance, and shear strength. Here are some quick definitions to help you sort out the terminology.
Tensile strength refers to the greatest force the fastener can withstand along its length before pulling apart. Shear is a force perpendicular to the fastener's long axis. Pullout resistance is relatively self-explanatory but varies according to the thickness and density of the drywall.
The truth is the drywall will fail long before you're able to load the fastener enough to test its strength. The panel itself is usually the limiting factor -- not the fastener. That's why it's wise to make sure at least one support for a towel bar or light-duty shelf lands on a stud.
For safety, never rely on an anchor alone for overhead use, such as hanging plants. Always drive a threaded fastener into a joist for that type of application.
Match the gauge of the screw to the anchor. The gauge is the number before the length. For example, in a No. 6x1 inch screw, the gauge is 6 (bigger number, heavier gauge). Use sheet metal screws for maximum holding power. Unlike wood screws, they are threaded along their entire length.
When choosing an anchor, consider whether you'll ever want to remove it from the wall. Some anchors withdraw entirely and easily, while others leave parts behind. Still others are virtually impossible to remove without ripping out a chunk of drywall.Expanding Plastic Anchors
Expanding plastic anchors are suitable only for lightweight applications. Be sure you purchase the type of anchor that flares outward behind the drywall for extra holding power. You can sometimes completely remove these anchors without doing too much damage to the wall. But if that's not possible, drive the anchor slightly below the wall's surface, and top with drywall compound.Expansion Anchors
Choose an expansion anchor that has a smooth shank length that matches the thickness of your drywall. Drill the recommended hole size, insert the anchor, and advance the machine screw to expand the legs behind the drywall. Withdraw the machine screw completely, thread it though the item you want to mount, and drive it again. Avoid hammer-in expansion anchors; they often blow out the back of the drywall, weakening or even destroying the gripping surface. Expansion anchors are virtually impossible to remove.Plastic and Metal Wall Drillers
Plastic and metal wall drillers easily auger into your wall with a power screwdriver. To increase pullout resistance, choose a larger diameter anchor. Add a sheet metal screw in the center of the anchor as a mounting point. Removing the driller requires little effort.Nylon Toggles
To install a nylon toggle, simply drill the recommended hole size in the wall, compress the wings, and push the anchor into the hole. The wings usually pop open when they get into the open stud cavity. But if the wings don't expand, insert a slim rod (usually supplied with the anchor) or finishing nail through the anchors to encourage the wings to spread. Removal is virtually impossible.Toggle Bolt
A toggle bolt consists of spring-loaded metal wings and a long machine screw. Drill a hole of the recommended size (it's usually stamped on the wings). Put a washer or combination washer and hanger on a long machine screw, spin the wings partially onto the screw, and shove into the wall. Removal is easy -- simply back out the screw -- although you'll sacrifice the wings.Picture Hangers
Simply because the package says "picture hanger" doesn't necessarily mean the fastener will actually be strong enough to safely hold your picture. Whenever possible, drive the nail into a stud; it will be far more secure than one anchored only into gypsum board.Combination Washer and Hanger
When you use a toggle bolt, you'll need a washer because the hole in the wall is larger than the head of the machine screw. You'll also often need a hook to hang a picture or mirror. Fulfill both needs with the single sturdy piece of hardware shown here. Punching out the scored center ring enables you to use machine screws of several shank diameters.Toggle Drills Its Own Hole
Toggle bolts are desirable for their strength but undesirable because of the mess and hassle of drilling the entry hole. A new type of fastener called a drywall driller toggle has a self-drilling auger point that makes installation faster and cleaner. Simply drill the body of the fastener into the wall, then begin driving the supplied sheet metal screw. As the screw advances, it flips the toggle. The screw then engages a hole in the toggle and pulls it snugly against the wall.Fasten to Framing
Before you start hanging drywall, visualize the location of towel bars, shelves, and heavy pictures or mirrors. Then add 2x4 blocking at all of these locations so that you'll have a solid target for fasteners when you install those accessories later. Fastening into framing is always much stronger than even the best drywall anchor.
- Artistic Drywall Styles & Elements
- Drywall Materials & Supplies
- Drywall Tools
- Framing Basics for Walls & Ceilings
- Drywall Measuring & Cutting
- Basic Drywall Hanging: How to Hang Drywall
- Drywall Taping, Joint Compounds & Sanding
- Advanced Drywall Techniques
- How to Repair Drywall: Patching & Repairing Walls and Ceilings