Choosing the Right Hollow Wall Anchors: A Comprehensive Guide

Confounded by the wide array of hollow wall anchors available? In this informative post, I’ll walk you through the various options, their benefits, and drawbacks. You’ll never be at a loss when it comes to hanging items on your walls without a stud!

Hollow wall anchors (also known as drywall anchors) are essential for providing support to delicate drywall and preventing screws or nails from dislodging. With countless choices out there, making the right selection can be a challenge. But fear not! This guide will help you navigate the options and ensure you make the perfect choice.

Why are hollow wall anchors necessary?

Wall anchors are specialized fasteners designed to increase the holding power of screws or hooks in drywall or plaster walls. The space between studs is hollow, and the relatively soft nature of drywall or plaster makes it incapable of securely holding regular screws or nails on its own.

So, when should you opt for a drywall anchor? Anytime you can’t find a stud in the right position and need to hang something that exceeds the holding capacity of a nail in drywall. Generally, anything larger than a small picture frame may require an anchor for a secure hold.

But what if you don’t have a stud finder? Don’t worry! Check out this tutorial for alternative methods to locate a stud.

Before committing to hanging an object on the wall, consider its weight and whether it will be situated in a high-traffic area.

Here are a few scenarios where hollow wall anchors are indispensable:

  • In bathrooms, towel racks and hooks are susceptible to failure due to constant handling and the weight of wet towels. An anchor is crucial for secure attachment.
  • Coat hooks may appear sturdy by themselves, but when laden with winter coats, their strength may be compromised. Using a hollow wall anchor can prevent any mishaps.
  • Mounting TVs usually demands wall anchors unless the bracket is attached to multiple studs.
  • To safeguard against potential accidents and damage, it’s advisable to anchor tall bookshelves or hutches to the wall, preventing them from toppling forward.

Plastic expansion drywall anchors

The most common type of hollow wall anchor is the plastic expansion anchor. You might have received them as part of a purchase, such as coat hooks or frames. These anchors typically offer a light hold of up to 40 pounds. They’re affordable, easy to remove, and leave minimal damage.

How do plastic anchors function?

To begin, you’ll need to drill a pilot hole in the drywall, aligning it with the diameter of the plastic expansion anchor. If the pilot hole is too large, you won’t achieve the desired holding power. Conversely, if it’s too small, you risk bending the anchor during insertion.

Once the hole is drilled, simply tap the plastic anchor into place. As you twist the screw into the anchor, the plastic expands and forms a wedge on the opposite side, preventing easy dislodgement.

Self-drilling anchors

Self-drilling drywall anchors provide another popular solution. These anchors resemble large screws with wide threads designed to grip drywall. They typically offer a holding capacity of 50-70 pounds.

How do they work? These anchors feature a Philips drive on one end. You may need to predrill a small hole to initiate insertion, although many self-drilling anchors have a sharp point that enables piercing the drywall directly.

Once you’ve inserted the anchor, drive another screw into its center. The plastic will expand within the drywall, resulting in a stronger hold compared to a regular screw.

I can vouch for the efficacy of these anchors, as I used them for my DIY live edge floating shelf, and they’ve performed admirably. However, it’s important to note that like plastic expansion anchors, they aren’t ideal for heavy-duty applications.

Toggle bolts

Toggle bolts are heavy-duty hollow wall anchors, best suited for supporting hefty items. A typical toggle bolt folds up to fit through a pre-drilled hole and springs open inside the hollow wall. For more details, check out my tutorial on how to install toggle bolts.

As the screw tightens, the metal wings pull flat against the inner wall, making accidental dislodgement extremely challenging. When correctly installed, some toggle bolts can support up to 150 pounds.

Plastic winged anchors, similar in principle to toggle bolts, are made of plastic instead of metal. These hollow wall anchors feature plastic wings that unfold after insertion into the pilot hole and tightening of the mounting screw.

Molly bolts

Molly bolts closely resemble toggle bolts but may require a specialized tool to expand their wings inside the wall. You can purchase kits containing various sizes along with the necessary tool.

These metal hollow wall anchors resemble bolts with metal jackets surrounding their threads. After drilling a pilot hole, attach the bolt to the tool’s end and insert it into the hole. By twisting the screw, the wings flare out, securing the anchor in place.

For more information on how molly bolts and toggle bolts compare, take a look at my detailed comparison.

No-drill drywall anchors

If you detest the mess associated with drilling pilot holes, you’ll love these no-drill wall anchors! These thin metal anchors can support approximately 60 pounds. To install them, simply use a hammer to drive the flat anchor into position. Then, use a screwdriver to expand the metal flaps by driving a screw into the center.

As the screw engages with the anchor’s center, the wings spread within the drywall, creating a secure anchor difficult to remove. These anchors boast speed, durability, effectiveness, and affordability. If you’re not a fan of plastic expansion anchors, this is a solid alternative!

Claw drywall anchors

Claw drywall anchors aren’t capable of supporting significant weight, but they’re incredibly simple if you only need to hang a picture frame or other lightweight objects. With this style, all you have to do is mark the positioning of the fasteners and press them into place without the need for a hammer.

These anchors feature sharp pins on their backs that can puncture the wall. Moreover, they are engineered to balance and bear weight, so once they’re in place, they can resist downward pressure and keep your picture securely mounted.

Monkey hook drywall anchors

Monkey hook anchors are undeniably handy! Simple yet effective, they offer a quick solution with minimal wall damage and the assurance that they won’t come loose. They can support up to 35 pounds.

How do monkey hook anchors work? Essentially, they are long hooks with a distinctive shape. When weight is applied to the front hook, the backside’s top presses against the drywall.

To install a monkey hook anchor, press its sharp end into the drywall, a task easily accomplished by hand. Continue threading the hook until only the hooked portion protrudes from the wall. The long tail of the hook curls up inside the hollow wall, providing ample support.

I hope this article has enlightened you about the numerous hollow wall anchors available today! Which type do you prefer for your projects? Let me know in the comments below!

If you found this article helpful, check out these other engaging home improvement pieces!

Please note that this article contains affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may earn me a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, please refer to my disclosures page.