If you've ever tried to hang something heavy from a wall where there's no framing stud, you know how useful drywall anchors are. These innovative devices are pressed into any area of drywall, providing an anchor for mounting screws. The type of anchor needed depends on how heavy an object you want to hang from the wall.
Several types of plastic anchors are available, including hollow, ribbed or winged styles. All types are used in drywall or plaster walls. Ribs help secure the anchor to the interior of the wall, and hollow anchors expand when a screw is inserted into the hole. Winged anchors are installed with a special tool that pushes the wings out to provide a brace for the screw. Plastic anchors are for light-duty applications and can hold between 10 and 20 lbs. maximum.
Metal anchors are similar to plastic anchors; they look the same but function slightly differently. Threaded metal anchors are screwed into the wall, rather than pounded into a mounting hole like a hollow anchor. Cement board anchors are coated to prevent rust and are used in moist areas such as bathrooms or basements. Metal anchors are for light- to medium-duty jobs and can safely hold up to 35 lbs.
Tabbed & Expanding Anchors
Tabbed and expanding anchors are for heavy-duty jobs; tabbed anchors are used for drywall and plaster, while expanding anchors are strong enough for masonry projects. The tabs on a toggle angle are pressed flat when inserted, then expand inside the wall and act as a brace for the hanging item. Large toggles can hold well over 100 lbs. Expanding anchors work similarly; when embedded into a solid wall, the threads spread open for increased security. Even small expanding anchors can hold up to a ton.
Once installed, anchors may be difficult to remove. Rather than pulling them from the wall, you can try hammering metal expanding and toggle anchors further into the wall. Plastic anchors may be pried from the wall with a screwdriver and hammer, or you can insert a screw halfway into the anchor and pry the screw and anchor out like a nail. Removal may make a larger hole in the wall, which can be covered with a drywall patch and joint compound.