When and How to Use Hollow Wall Anchors

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  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • $10-70
What You'll Need
Wall anchors

Hollow wall anchors work where simple screws won’t. They are designed for use in thin or hollow walls such as drywall, plasterboard, and other board materials that will not support the weight of heavy wall hangings. They normally work by biting into the board or wall and spreading within its cavity to get a fix. Once it has expanded inside the wall, it cannot be pulled back through the hole. The strength of the anchor is relative to the size of its spread. Those who are unfamiliar with hollow wall anchors may find installing them quite daunting, but even the most inexperienced handyman will be able to use them to hang a family portrait without much difficulty.

Using a Hollow Wall Anchor Setting Tool

Check if there is enough space inside the wall to allow the anchor to spread. Drill a hole (make sure that it is the right size) and insert the hollow wall anchor. The hole will need to be slightly smaller than the anchor. Once it's inside, tap it lightly to ensure that the teeth under the head bite into the wall.

Slide in the nose part of the setting tool between the collar and the underside of the screw. Squeeze the handles together so the body of the anchor will begin to collapse and spread its arms behind the wall. Keep pumping the handles until you feel solid pressure. The anchor will now be completely expanded such that you can press the trigger that releases the tool. Next, unfasten the center screw, place your fixture over the fitted anchor body, put the screw back in, and tighten.

Using a Screwdriver

Try to gauge how much the item to be mounted using the hollow wall anchor weighs. Buy anchors that have a weight rating slightly higher than the weight of the item you will be hanging. If the item is large enough to necessitate the use of more than one anchor, divide the weight of the item by the number of anchors to be used to get the correct weight rating.

Drill a hole through the wall using the correct drill bit size for the anchor. Pop in the anchor, making sure that it fits snugly without gaps between the wall and the shoulder of the anchor. Place the screw in the implanted anchor and, using a screwdriver, rotate it clockwise to spread the anchor’s arms. You may drive the screw through the item you wish to mount or loop a wire hanger over it before inserting it into the anchor.

Using Wing-type Hollow Wall Anchors

Fold the wings of the wing-type hollow wall anchors and drive them through the hole. The wings will spread inside the cavity of the wall and prevent the anchor from being pulled through the hole. This type of hollow wall anchor is very strong and will support heavy items like small shelves and mirrors. You have to attach the wall hanging to the anchor before you insert it into the hole because you will not be able to remove it again once it’s inside.