Wall anchors are used to securely hang items of light to moderate weight into drywall in areas where there are no wall studs. Pictures, decorative items, and light shelves can all be hung in such a space if properly anchored with a wall anchor. Wall anchors keep hanging screws from ripping out of drywall from the weight of the items they secure.
There are several types of wall anchors. Choosing the right wall anchor for the job starts with determining how heavy an item is and how much of a load will be placed on the wall anchor.
1. Plastic Wall Anchors
Can be used to hang light loads in drywall, such as light pictures and decorations. Plastic wall anchors look similar to plastic screws with a hole in them, which holds the screw. These anchors are easily installed with a hammer and a screwdriver.
To install plastic wall anchors, drill a hole slightly smaller than the anchor itself (plastic piece). Gently tap the wall anchor into the wall with a hammer. Use a screwdriver to screw a sheet-metal screw into the plastic anchor (appropriate screws are usually included with wall anchors when purchased).
2. Hollow Wall Anchors
Also known as "Molly bolts," hollow wall anchors should be used to secure medium weight loads, frames, and pictures.
Hollow wall anchors are similar to plastic wall anchors and may be made from plastic or metal. The difference is that hollow wall anchors flare out on the back side of the anchor when installed. The flaring action creates a wider base on the back side of the wall to better secure the screw and load it carries.
Install hollow wall anchors by drilling a hole slightly larger than the anchor. Insert the hollow wall anchor into the wall. Use one screwdriver to hold the anchor in place, and a second to insert the screw. There will be resistance at first until the screw flares the backside of the hollow wall anchor open.
3. Toggle Bolts
Toggle bolts have spring-loaded metal wings that close for insertion then spread out flat on the backside of the wallboard to create a sturdy, wide anchoring base for moderately heavy loads. Toggle bolts are good wall anchor choices for large, heavy pictures, wood shelves, and glass items like candle holders or sconces with glass globes.
To install toggle bolts, drill a hole just large enough for the closed toggle to go through. Remove the bolt from the wings and place a bracket or other hanging fixture onto the bolt. Screw the bolt back onto the toggle wings. Gently push the closed wings through the drilled hole in the wall. The wings spring open on the backside of the wall when they push all the way through. Tighten the bolt and fixture.
By using wall anchors, light shelving and decorative items of moderate weight can be securely attached to drywall between wall studs.