A line of four blue drywall anchors.

A Guide to Installing Drywall Anchors

How to Install Drywall Anchors

A drywall is a partition made of calcium sulfate dihydrate (gypsum). Because of its fabrication, DIY enthusiasts should take better care when hammering a nail directly into it. The wrong technique can cause damage to the wall or paintwork. This is why we are going to talk about how to install drywall anchors.

Drywall anchors are handy inventions used to hang décor and other fixtures directly onto the fickle and delicate surface of drywalls. It is a relatively simple process that still requires the proper execution. Read on for a few handy tips on how to install drywall anchors.

In Preparation

Without preparation, there cannot be success. Before you start hammering, drilling, and hanging, you should prepare the following first:

Tools Needed

When installing anchors, you need a few basic items that include:

  • A hammer or rubber mallet
  • Electric drill or screwdriver
  • Specific drywall anchors
  • Specific screws

Most anchors are self-drilling, which means you will not always need an electric drill to make a hole. Using a screwdriver to rotate them into the wall will be just as efficient.

If you do decide to use a hand drill, then make sure you go slow and steady.

Finding the Right Spot

Anchors can be drilled directly into any area of the drywall. Make sure you find the perfect spot before you start drilling. Use a pencil to draw a small cross on the exact location of where you want the anchor’s hole.

When the item you want to hang requires numerous anchors, use a tape measure and level tool. This will ensure that your anchors are placed in the right spot to guarantee a level result.

Don’t neglect proper measuring and never rely on guessing where the right spot should be. This will help you to work more accurately and efficiently.

Finding the Right Size Drill Bit or Screwdriver

The size of the drill bit will depend on the size of the anchor. If the hole is too big, the anchor might fall out; if it is too small, the anchor might not fit correctly and even break. Ideally, the hole should be somewhat smaller than the anchor.

Measure the front of the anchor against the shank of the drill bit. The diameter should be a 16th of an inch more. If you opt to use a screwdriver, then use the right-sized screwdriver with a star point.

Considering Weight and Type of Anchor

Heavier wall hangings like large mirrors, televisions, or shelves will need stronger anchors and wall studs. Depending on the item you want to install, its weight, and your drywall's thickness, you should pick the right kind of anchor.

Several different types of anchors can be used:

Expansion/Plastic Sleeve Anchors

Expansion anchors consist of a plastic part with an accompanying mounting screw. Tap the plastic parts of the anchors into the drilled holes until it fits securely. After the mounting screw is inserted, the anchor tip will flare out and prevent it from tearing out of the wall.

These expansion anchors are the most common and affordable type and work perfectly to hang lightweight items under eight pounds.

Self-Drilling/Threaded Anchors (Zip-Its)

Zip-It anchors require electric drills or screwdrivers for clockwise insertion. They offer more support than expansion anchors. To install, you should lightly tap the head of it with a hammer. Tap it into the drywall until you reach the threads. Using a screwdriver, screw it further into the drywall until the head is level with the wall.

Zip-Its work for items that weigh around 9-20 pounds, such as rods with curtains.

Hollow Wall Anchors

Available in different lengths, hollow wall anchors (also known as Molly Bolts) are perfect for any drywall thickness. Users can hit hollow wall anchors into drilled holes with a hammer – make sure that its head is level with the wall.

Tighten the central screw with a screwdriver, which will cause the collars at the back to open up and lock onto the wall. They provide sturdy and strong support for items between 20 to 37 pounds.

It’s recommended that you use Molly Bolts for heavy items like mirrors and floating shelves.

Toggle Bolts

Toggle bolts are perfect for a non-slip insertion. This is because they feature a nut with springy, foldable wings at the end of the bolt. Once the wings are tapped through the hole, they will spring open on the other side of the wall, resulting in secure support.

The regulating anchor head needs to be tightened to clamp the drywall from both sides.


Now, for the fun part: how to install drywall anchors correctly:

Screw or Drill a Hole at 90 Degrees

Even though most anchors are self-drilling, you should still make sure you insert the anchor at the right angle.

Drill or screw straight and steadily into the wall at an accurate angle of 90 degrees. It’s not always necessary to drill a hole first, but it saves time and eases the entire process of installing an anchor.

Insert Anchors

Tap or screw in the relevant anchor. It is important not to force them into the drywall, as the wall is fragile. Anchors with pointed ends will automatically drill and screw into the wall.

Insert Screw

After you have installed the plastic sleeve anchor correctly into the wall, you can insert the screw. Do this by either using a screwdriver or slowly drilling.

Hang Items

Once your anchor has been installed, you can start hanging your items.

It’s important to remember that drywalls aren’t as sturdy as brick walls. Therefore, it isn’t recommended that you try and hang extremely heavy items from it. Even though drywall anchors can support a fair amount of weight, the fragile drywall can only carry so much weight.

If you find that the task at hand seems too complex, you can hire a professional contractor to do the job. Hiring a professional will not only save you time and money, but it will guarantee a successful result.
As long as you don’t rush the process and prepare before you start installations, your drywall anchors will be sturdy enough.