Living Room Design

Types of Wall Anchors

If you want to hang an oversized painting, photograph, mirror or a large shelf unit on the wall, you would need more than a screw or a nail. A wall anchor is the right hardware that can suit your big wall hanging needs.

A wall anchor is a fastener that can attach an item to a surface where adhesives, nails, screws, hooks or other simple fasteners are either ineffective or impractical. Anchors are typically useful on hard surfaces like concrete and masonry, and on hollow surfaces like walls, doors and ceilings, especially when there is no stud or beam behind the surface. When talking about how much weight can a wall anchor hold, it depends on the type of anchor, the type of object being hung, the type of surface the anchor is installed on, and the condition of the surface.

A wall anchor that is mismatched to the wall material will loosen up over time and can cause damage to the wall, the wall hanging and whatever is underneath or in the wall hanging. You must be aware of the capacity of the types of wall anchors to better choose whenever it is needed. Here are the most commonly used wall anchors:

1. Expansion anchor

Expansion anchors are used with thick, solid materials like concrete, masonry, brick, metals and even wood. They are designed to expand when a bolt or screw is threaded into them to provide a stronger hold. Expansion anchors can either be fully threaded or partially threaded or a full-bodied wedge anchor. The most commonly used expansion anchors are the plastic types.

2. Hollow wall anchor/Molly bolt

Hollow wall anchors are designed for hollow walls; thin materials like plaster and wallboard; and medium-duty applications. Also called molly bolts, this type of anchor normally adds permanent screw threads to the material it is attached. So, anything installed with a molly can be taken down a number of times without losing strength. Hollow wall anchors expand as the screw is tightened and driven to the cavity. It can be installed using a drill or a hammer. The maximum weight a molly bolt can hold is 50 lbs.

3. Toggle bolt anchor

Toggle bolt anchors are preferred for medium to heavy items. It’s the traditional anchor method that is available in both square and slot-drive. It is sized in two ways: by the length and by the diameter of the screw. The larger the diameter of the bolt, the stronger the toggle. Also, the longer the bolt, the thicker the wall it can be installed in, or the thicker the material that can be hung.

Traditional toggle bolts consist of two parts: the toggle (which looks like a pair of spring-loaded metal wings) and the machine bolt. The newer version of the toggle bolt, which is known as the SnapToggle, makes use of a solid bar and not hinged wings. It can retain the threaded bar’s position so the bolt can be removed and reinstalled.  

4. Plastic wall anchor

Often misused in drywall applications, plastic wall anchors are one of the most commonly used anchors. These are suitable for solid materials like concrete, plaster and masonry; and can hold light to medium items. Plastic wall anchors are available in different sizes and designs. The more ribbed the anchors, are the greater their gripping strength will be, regardless of the wall material.

5. Cement board screw anchor

The cement board screw anchor is best used in attaching cement board to steel and wood. This type of wall anchor is reliable for medium to heavy-duty applications. Besides wall items, it can also be used with bathtub attachments, high-density exterior sheathing, flooring applications, countertops and more.

6. Winged plastic anchor

Winged plastic anchors are used for medium-duty applications, and can offer twice as much strength as most plastic expansion anchors. It needs pilot holes where the anchor could be inserted, and a special pointed tool is used to push the center of the wings out so they can properly expand in the wall.

7. Wedge anchor

Wedge anchors are made of steel stud at one end and a clip at the other to set a wedge between the stud and the concrete. Then, the wedge is expanded by tightening the nut so the anchor can be securely installed into the concrete. This type of anchor is only recommended for use in solid concrete, and is not removable after the anchor has expanded.