Learn Which Wall Anchor to Use

Wall anchors are needed to support heavy wall hangings or other accessories made of different wall materials. The type of anchor for your project will depend on the wall material, the weight of the load being hung, and how they can be installed and removed. Here is a list of the most commonly used wall-anchor types and their applications 

Cement Board Screw Anchor

Photo J Rodriguez

This type of anchor is best when used to attach cement board to wood and steel. It can also be used with high-density exterior sheathing and for bathtubs attachments, countertops, flooring applications, and more. Be sure to look for corrosion-resistant fasteners.

Expansion Anchor

J Rodriguez

Expansion anchors are used with concrete, masonry, and more. They are designed to spread open once anchored to provide a stronger hold. There are three basic styles of wedge anchors: fully threaded, partially threaded and the full-bodied wedge anchor. 

Plastic expansion anchors are the most commonly used anchor type. The more heavily "ribbed" anchors will give the greatest gripping strength, regardless of the wall material.

Hollow Wall Anchor

Photo Dmitry G

Hollow wall anchors are used for  medium-duty applications. They will normally add permanent screw threads to any material to which they are attached. These types of anchors will expand as the screw is tightened and driven into the cavity. This anchor can be installed using a hammer or a drill and can be used with various wall thicknesses. They are also known as Molly bolts. Their max holding load is about 50 pounds.

Plastic Hollow Wall Plug

Photo aconcordcarpenter.com

Plastic hollow wall plug anchors require you to drill a pilot hole. They are normally used in drywall or plaster for light-duty applications. When the screw is installed, the plug will expand and lock into place.

Threaded Drywall Anchors

Threaded Drywall Anchors. Photo flickr Nick Normal

This type of anchor is recommended for medium-duty applications and is very easy to install. They can be plastic, nylon or zinc-coated anchors.One of the best advantages of this type of anchor is that it can be removed and reused at another location.

The threads cut deep into the material providing a secure hold and pull-out resistant grip.The large threads are intended to hold firmly in drywall and will accept #6 or #8 sheet metal screws.

Toggle Bolt

Toggle Bolt. Photo Tenbergen

Toggle bolts are the traditional anchor method. This type of anchor has two parts: the toggle and the machine bolt. Toggle bolts are sized by the diameter of the screw and its length.

As the bolt becomes larger the toggle will also increase in size, and as the toggle gets longer, the thicker the wall it can be used in.

Toggles can be the preferred solution for heavy items and are available in both square and slot-drive. They will require a pilot hole and the wings that lock into place behind drywall will provide a strong holding power.

Winged Plastic Anchor

Photo The Home Depot

Winged plastic anchors are used for medium-duty applications and require pilot holes as well. A special tool is used to expand the wings once the anchor has been inserted. They offer twice as much strength as a regular plastic expansion anchor.  

A special pointed tool is supplied with the anchor to push the center of the wings out so that they properly expand in the wall.  The anchor will not function properly unless this is done, even though it may feel strong when screwed in. 

Once the screw is installed, the wings are pulled firmly against the wall. Plastic anchors should be installed carefully to prevent them from being damaged. They can hold between 25 to 35 lbs each in drywall.