When hanging objects on your walls, it is important to be aware of what sort of nail or screw is required to support the weight. For most smaller objects, like pictures and hanging ornaments, just a normal nail is fine. Hollow wall anchors, also known as drywall anchors, are meant to carry heavier pictures, some lightweight shelves, and other similar objects. Once you go over twenty pounds, a hollow wall anchor is required to bear the weight. This prevents the drywall from flaking apart and causing the nail to fall from the wall. Drywall is by its very nature weak, so we must rely on the hollow wall anchors to, well, anchor themselves to the wall so that anything hung on the attached screw won’t fall down and cause damage.

It may be a bit difficult to decide on just which hollow wall anchor is actually required for what you need, which is why we have this guide, and following video, available for you today. All of the items referenced in this post are also available at HomCo Lumber and Hardware, so if something catches your eye, you can head right on in and pick it up!

The Different Types of Hollow Wall Anchors

There are two main types of hollow wall anchors: plastic ones, and metal ones. The plastic ones are generally used for lighter objects, while the metal ones are used for heavier objects, though there are exceptions. There are also three different categories: light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy duty anchors. Each anchor will have a weight requirement so that you can decide which anchor best suits the object that you want to carry.

Light-Duty Anchors:

The light-duty anchors are the Expandet anchors and the plastic anchors. Both anchors are expanding types, with the Expandet anchor being a cylindrical type, and the plastic being conical. Neither can be used for ceilings or overhead hanging, but they are low cost and easy to use. These are good for the picture frames and light shelves, and anything around twenty pounds of weight.

Medium-Duty Anchors:

Medium-duty metal anchors include the metal expanding ultimate anchor, hollow wall anchor (or molly bolt), and the hollow drive anchor (also molly bolt). The ultimate anchor is a wing-type expanding anchor. These anchors are acceptable for ceiling and overhead hanging, like all medium-duty anchors. The molly bolt anchors are expanding sleeve-type anchors, and they also come with the attaching screw. These anchors are good for anything that you wouldn’t trust a lightweight plastic anchor to hold up, like heavier shelves.

Threaded Drywall Anchors:

There are also a few threaded drywall type anchors. These include the E-Z metal anchor, the E-Z plastic anchor, and the SnapSkru anchor, which also has wings. While they don’t include the attaching screw, these are also good for ceiling and overhead hanging. These are secure, and are labeled as self-drilling, which means you don’t need to pre-drill a hole to install them, unlike every other type of drywall anchor.

Plastic Expanding-Wing Anchors:

There is also a plastic expanding-wing anchor that HomCo Lumber and Hardware carries called the toggle wing anchor, which is the last of the medium-duty anchors. This anchor type is also good for ceiling and overhead hanging, but does not come with the attaching screw. The wing design keeps the screw secure against the wall, and is what makes it a medium-duty anchor.

Heavy Duty Hollow Wall Anchors:

The two heavy duty anchors that HomCo carries are the mushroom head anchor and the SnapToggle anchor. The mushroom head anchor is a metal-expanding wing type, which makes it heavy duty. This one provides the attaching screw, and is good for ceiling and overhead hanging. The SnapToggle anchor is a ratcheting plastic-body anchor with metal wings, so while the plastic may raise some eyebrows at its durability, the metal wings secure it against the backside of the drywall. This one does not include the attaching screw, but is also good for ceiling and overhead hanging. These heavy duty anchors are good for the upper limits of the hollow wall anchor weight requirements, like heavy shelves with heavy objects on them.

How to Use Hollow Wall Anchors

The process of installing a hollow wall anchor depends on what type of wall anchor it is, and how big the object you want to hang is. With long shelves, you’ll need to determine if you’re installing a screw over a stud. If you are, you could pick up a stud screw for extra security. If not, you can continue using your wall anchors. Make sure that you use a stud finder before drilling for extra security.

There are two types of hollow wall anchors in this regard: ones that require you to pre-drill a hole, and ones that are self-installing. The majority of wall anchors require the pre-drilled hole, while the E-X anchors and the SnapSkru anchor are self-installing. You’ll just need to grab a screwdriver to install those. With the rest of the wall anchors, you’ll need a drill and an appropriately-sized drill bit. You’ll want to make the hole slightly smaller than the anchor so that it won’t wiggle loose. Each drill bit is different, so make sure you read any attached packaging to determine if you need to do anything extra or differently. Other than that, installation is fairly easy and should take no more than 10-15 minutes at the most.

Which Drywall Anchor is Best?

Though there a lot of different types of hollow wall anchors, hopefully this guide and the attached video helped you determine which of the anchors best suits your hanging needs. If you are still unsure of which hollow wall anchor is the best for you, you can come in to HomCo Lumber and Hardware and speak with a hardware associate and they’ll get you sorted out in no time. All of the types of hollow wall anchors mentioned in this post are available at HomCo, and if one is not in stock, we can get some on order for you.

About the Author

Rhianne is one of HomCo's valued experts. When she's not writing a DIY blog or sharing more about hardware with our customers, you can find her in the Carhartt department. Stop by to say hi!