How to Install a Drywall Anchor
How to Install a Drywall
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this is a summarized version of our in-depth article below.
Knowing how to install a drywall anchor is necessary if you do not have a wall stud behind your drywall. A wall stud is the wood frame found inside your walls and it keeps the wall in place and it is used to anchor screws so that you can hang items on your wall and will never fall. However, some walls have wall studs that are not properly distanced or are not centered which makes it difficult to hang items on the wall. So if you want to insert screws right in the middle of the wall and there’s no wall stud underneath, this becomes a problem. But good thing there are drywall anchors. But first you need to know how to install a drywall anchor.
What are drywall anchors?
Drywall anchors, also called wall anchors, are types of wall inserts with mounts and combined with screws to get a firmer hold beneath the drywall panel. The insert is placed right into the hole on the wall and the screw is inserted right in the middle of the insert. When the screw is tightened, it enables the insert to expand or spread its anchor thus locking the insert in place along with the screw.
4 Different Types of Drywall Anchors:
- Expansion anchors
So-called expansion anchors because they expand once their screws are tightened inside it. These types are more preferred when hanging light picture frames or any light object on the drywall but it can up to 15 lbs depending on their size and are easy to install. Being the most common types, their inserts are commonly made of plastics. How to install a drywall anchor will depend on the type you have.
- Threaded Anchors or Self-drilling Anchors
Usually made of durable nylon or metals, these drywall anchors can hold heavier objects than the expansion anchors. You don’t also need to drill a hole to insert them into the wall because you can screw them up like ordinary screws. With their durability and strong hold, they can carry up to 50 pounds of weight or depending on their sizes. However, the problem with these anchors is that they can leave a large hole on the drywall if they get pulled out.
- Steel Hollow Wall Anchors or Molly Bolts
Some people call them “mollies” and these have sleeves made of metal but they are unique because you can remove their screws and insert them whenever needed. If you want to know How to Install a Drywall Anchor in drywall without a drill and using this type of anchor, you only need to put a hole into the wall and insert the stem of the anchor. Then insert the screw into the hole of the anchor and as you tighten the screw with your screwdriver, the metal tip of the insert will expand like wings and these will hold onto the wall. So even you unscrew the screw, the anchor will remain fixed.
The mollies can hold up to 55 pounds of weight and they can be the best choice if you’re installing a smoke alarm or a small lamp on your wall.
If you are interested to know how to hang a picture with drywall anchors but the anchor should carry a heavier weight, then better prefer the toggle bolts drywall anchors. These anchors are available in different designs, sizes and materials which include plastic and metals. They are also the strongest in terms of carrying heavier weight up to 100 pounds for the largest size.
The toggle bolts, although are heavyweights among the drywall anchors, they are a bit complicated to install because primarily you have to drill a hole that is about 3x wider than the screw’s diameter. This is necessary for the insert to be inserted because the insert is equipped with folded wings. But once inserted, you only need to insert and tighten the screw and the wings will loosen up and the insert will anchor itself into the wall.
The plastic toggle anchor types can hold up to 20 pounds while the metal types can carry up to 100 pounds depending on their size.
How to Install a Drywall Anchor
As mentioned, drywall anchors come in different sizes so it depends on the size and type of your drywall on how you need to install them. But here are the general rules on how to install a drywall anchor:
- Determine the surface of your wall. Note that generally, drywall anchors are made for drywall which are made of gypsum, a type of mineral found on old ground beds and mixed with plaster and fiberglass to form flat boards. But there are now drywall anchors that can be used for concrete.
- Try to find the wall studs first. Wall studs are sections of wood frames used to fortify walls but with hollow parts. You can find these wall studs by knocking on the wall. Hollow sounds indicate no studs. The deep, dense sound indicates a stud. Use a magnet to double-check. Magnets can find nails or screws used to fix the drywall on the wall stud.
- If you’ve found studs on the spot where you want to drill your screws in, you can use standard long screws. But if there are no wall studs, this is where the drywall anchors can become more useful.
- All you have to do now is drill the wall with your hand drill or screwdriver and insert the insert part of the anchor. If you want to hang a heavy fixture on the wall, you can use the toggle bolt type anchor. But for the lighter fixtures, the expansion anchors or the threaded anchor types will do.
How to Put an Anchor in Drywall Without a Drill
When you don’t have a power drill, a screwdriver is the best alternative in installing a drywall anchor. You can use a regular screwdriver as long as its tip fits the head of your drywall anchor.
Remember that the procedures in installing the drywall anchors depend on their types. There are the types that you need to create a hole on the wall and insert the insert followed by the screw and there are also types that you can directly drive into the wall.
Here are the procedures how to put an anchor in drywall without a drill and using a screwdriver:
- Mark the point you want your drywall anchor installed. Punch a hole into the drywall using your screw screwdriver so better use a cross-tip screwdriver. The hole must fit the stem of the insert because you’ll be inserting it fully into the hole and only the top shall remain on the surface of the drywall.
2. Insert the screw into the insert and you will feel or hear the expansion of the anchors underneath the wall.
So for those who wanted to learn how to put an anchor in drywall without a drill, the above instructions can simply describe it.
Do You Need Drywall Anchors for Curtains?
People usually ask why do you need drywall anchors for curtains. Well, the answer is quite simple and it all boils down to security and durability. Curtain rods and curtains can be heavy especially curtains that are more than 6 feet high. Bus since most windows and doors are framed with wood, screwing a screw in them can be easy.
Curtain metal rods are usually heavy and once they carry the curtains, the load they take can have a tool on the wood. So using the standard screws may not be strong enough to hold the weight of the rods as well as the weight of the curtains. Therefore if you want to hang your curtains and want to make sure they won’t fall off, you will need screws that will surely secure the curtain rod and the curtains.
So what types of drywall anchors would you need especially for curtains that are large and heavy and with long, heavy rods? The best anchor we can suggest is the threaded anchor because you can insert them directly into the wood and expand their inserts. They also don’t have wings. However, some of these anchors are made of nylon and some are metals. So if you’ll be using nylon-made threaded anchors, you still have to drill the wood to let the nylon insert go in.
So going back to do the question, do you need drywall anchors for curtains, the answer is yes.
How to Hang a Picture with Drywall Anchors
Hanging pictures on your wall is one good way of adding beauty to your home’s interior. If you don’t want your pets or small kids crashing down your pictures from the top of your drawer, hanging them on the wall is the best option. Using nails is the typical practice for hanging pictures on walls, but if your wall stud is out of line for your hanging spot, you have to use drywall anchors. But do you know how to hang a picture with drywall anchors?
Well, unlike hanging curtains which you have to use threaded anchors, you can use any type of anchors in hanging pictures over the drywall but that still depends on the size and weight of your pictures. Expansion anchor and molly bolts are the best choices for light-framed pictures while the large versions of the toggle bolt anchors are ideal for large paintings.
So knowing how to hang a picture with drywall anchors can make you feel safer as well as safer for your family.
How Deep Your Pilot Holes Should Be?
Any drywall anchor requires pre-drilling to make sure that the insert of the anchor will go in. So you only need to think about two things when drilling holes: First, will you be drilling into a wall stud? And second, are there any obstructions like electrical wiring you have to avoid?
Drilling into drywall is very easy because most drywall are soft and only about 1/4 to 5/8-inch the thickest. But if you will come across a wall stud, you might want to choose an anchor that is longer than the thickness of the drywall and the stud and its anchor should come out of these materials. Otherwise, you may not need to use a drywall anchor since using long screws on walls stud can ensure a solid hold with whatever you want to hang on your wall.
And about the obstructions, as much as possible, try to avoid these because you don’t want to get troubled when your anchors pinned on to them like the wiring or pipes. To give you a bit of advice on how to find wall studs and wires that’s behind the walls, you can buy wall stud finders that can detect studs and even electrical current but unfortunately not the water pipes. Another way of avoiding obstructions is checking your house plan especially your wall’s design.
Why is Anchor Spacing Important?
As the term says, anchor spacing is the space between two anchors so each anchor should be placed a few inches away from the other to achieve maximum tolerance. To know the proper distance of each anchor, the rule of thumb here is that anchors should not be close to 12 inches from each other especially if they are horizontally placed along the wall.
The reason for this is, because gypsum is not like a solid block of wood, placing anchors very near each other can weaken the structure of the wall and rip the lines where the anchors are placed. So it is not advisable to install drywall anchors near each other as it can compromise the integrity of the wall as well as the safety of the people inside their homes.
Things You Can Hang Using Drywall Anchors
To give you a list of the items you can hang on your wall using the drywall anchors, check this out Framed Pictures
As long as the anchor you use meets the weight capacity of the framed pictures or painting, there will not be any problem. However, as mentioned, check also the thickness of your drywall. If it’s only about 1/4-inch thick and you want to hang heavy paintings, this is not good so you can only go for light framed or smaller paintings.
- Curtain rods and curtains
As we have suggested, the best anchors for heavy curtains are the threaded types which you can install on the wooden window frames. But if you want to install the rods into the drywall, we recommend the toggle bolt types because these can carry heavier objects and their anchors are spread out inside the drywall making them resistant to stress.
If you’ll be installing a shelf on your drywall and you have wall studs behind it, you can use any drywall anchor as long as its length is longer to spread out or expand its anchors. But if your wall is thin, better put shelves that are not heavy and don’t ever put heavy things on it. With thin walls, there is no problem with the anchors but with the thickness of the drywall itself.
Most mirrors are lightweight. But generally, the bigger the mirrors, the heavier their frames can become. So better choose anchors that can carry heavier weight like toggle bolts and the threaded types. Check also the integrity of your wall before fixing a large mirror on your wall.
- First Aid Boxes
These boxes are usually light but if you’ll be filling them out with bottled medicines, they can also become heavy. There are also first aid boxes that are made of plastics or thin metals so depending on the thickness of your wall, you can choose the type of drywall anchor your want.
Every homeowner who loves to hang items on his wall should have ready drywall anchors in his home. Especially if your target hanging spots don’t hit the wall studs, these anchors can be the best solution for your hanging needs. Drywall anchors are also inexpensive so you can stock different sizes of them. However, knowing how to install a drywall anchor requires not only your skills but also your sense of safety.
So always check the thickness of your wall before installing a drywall anchor and read its label especially about its load capacity.