Things You'll Need
Drill or awl
Select the right anchor for the job. Small plastic wall anchors are suitable for items under 10 lbs., while the largest anchors can hold up to 30 lbs. Wall anchors with a lot of ribbing provide greater friction, which decreases the likelihood that they will pull out of the wall. If the pressure on an anchor will be downward, a smaller anchor might do the job. But when the pressure is outward, as happens with a shelf, larger anchors are necessary.
Avoid using plastic anchors in the ceiling unless the object is very lightweight.
When you need to hang something on a wall and there's no stud in the right spot, plastic wall anchors may be the solution. Also called expansion anchors, they reinforce a screw in the wall surface so it can't easily be ripped out. Wall anchors can be used in drywall, concrete, brick, metal or wood, and installation takes just a few steps. Plastic wall anchors are useful for hanging lightweight pictures and small decorative objects. Keep the weight of the object under 30 lbs. or the anchor may pull out of the wall.
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Mark the intended location of the plastic anchor with a pencil. Use two anchors to hang larger pictures and provide greater holding power and stability. You can also use one anchor-and-screw combo as the primary holder, and add a smaller anchor to hold the object steady.
Drill a hole in the wall for each anchor. Use an electric drill for concrete or wood walls and a drill or an awl for drywall. An awl has the advantage of creating less drywall dust. When using a drill, select a bit with a diameter that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the wall anchor for a tight fit.
Push the plastic wall anchor as far as it will go into the hole with your finger. Tap it gently with a hammer until the anchor is flush with the wall surface. If the anchor bends as you hammer it in, remove it with a pair of pliers and insert another anchor.
Place a screw in the center of the wall anchor. Anchors are often sold in packages that contain screws in the correct sizes. If you purchased the anchors separately, select the right screw for the anchor. If the screw size isn't listed on the package, you may need to try a few before you find one that fits perfectly.
Tighten the screw in the plastic wall anchor with a screwdriver. As you turn the screw, the anchor will expand to grip the sides of the hole. Do not insert the screw completely into the anchor as a portion of the screw stem must be exposed to hang the object.
Sandra Corbitt-Sears has been self-employed as a writer, editor and webmaster for over 17 years. She has held positions as a university career counselor, employee assistance program counselor and department administrator. Corbitt-Sears earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and a Master of Science degree in counseling and guidance from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.