How to Choose a Drywall Anchor

Drywall anchors make for easy installation of paintings, pictures, shelves, and much more. Unlike drywall screws or nails, drywall anchors don’t require a stud behind the drywall panel. This allows you to securely install them without damaging drywall, which is a soft material.


Sheetrock vs Drywall vs Gypsum

Before we jump into drywall anchors, let’s take a look at drywall itself. Sheetrock, drywall, and gypsum are popular terms used to refer to the same thing – drywall panels.

Sheetrock is actually a brand of drywall, but it’s a term typically used in a generic way (known as a proprietary eponym or generic trademark). Gypsum is the material you find in drywall panels. It’s a soft sulfate mineral. When referring to drywall, each term has its place. Remember that gypsum is a component of drywall panels and Sheetrock is a brand of drywall. Many contractors use these terms interchangeably.

Drywall is a popular material for building homes, offices, and more. It allows for the effective creation of flat walls. It’s usually fastened to wood studs with drywall screws or nails. As mentioned before, drywall anchors are ideal in situations where there isn’t a stud in the location. Drywall anchors help secure any number of items, including picture frames.

Types of Drywall Anchors

Drywall anchors are extremely handy. But which drywall anchor should you choose? Here are different types of drywall anchors (and their respective applications).

Self Drilling Drywall Anchors

Want to secure something 10 to 25 pounds in weight? Self-drilling drywall anchors are great for light-weight applications. These anchors typically come in two options: self-drilling plastic drywall anchors and self-drilling metal drywall anchors.


As a type of snap toggle anchor or toggle bolt, the KapToggle drywall anchor is ideal for securing fixtures to drywall (as well as masonry). This anchor is three times stronger than typical wall fasteners. It is made of a combination of nylon and zinc-plated steel.

Expansion Anchor

A Sammy Sammy Rod Hanger Drywall vertical anchor (aka Toggle Bolt) is ideal for heavier items like ceiling fans, shelving, and cabinets. For example, a ½” Sammy Bolt can safely hold approximately 100 pounds. Note: we recommend the use of Sammy Nut Drivers with the installation of Sammy Screws.


Zinc Plated Toggle Wing Anchors

Great for hollow wall applications (meaning there’s space on the other side of the drywall), Zinc Plated Toggle Wing Anchors are usually used as replacements for spring wings in toggle anchor installations.

Plastic Toggle Anchors

Need to hang drapery rods, towel bars, soap dishes, and the like? Plastic toggle anchors are the go-to option when it comes to drywall applications. One benefit is that the single-piece anchors stay in place, even after the screw has been removed from it.

How to Install Drywall Anchors

There can be slight varieties to these steps depending on the type of anchor. Here are the basic steps to install a drywall anchor:

  1. Use a measuring tape and pencil to mark the location of the drywall anchor.
  2. Make what’s called a pilot hole with a drill with the proper size drill bit.
  3. Place drywall anchor into hole and tap into place with a hammer.
  4. Make sure anchor heads are flush to the drywall surface.
  5. Install screw with a screwdriver.

How to Remove Drywall Anchors

Need to remove a drywall anchor? Whether relocating shelves or prepping a clean wall surface, it pays to know how to properly deal with anchors (and patch the drywall surface). Below, you’ll find four ways to remove anchor screws.

Before you start, you’ll need some common tools. Here’s a list:

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife
  • Drill (and cutting wheel)
  • Screwdriver
  • Nails
  • Protective eyewear
  • Drywall compound
  • Drywall knife or spatula
  • Sandpaper
  • Microfiber cloth or rag

Method 1: Pull Out Anchor

This method is pretty intuitive. With the help of needle-nose pliers, you can oftentimes safely pull out an anchor. Use a back-and-forth motion to gently wiggle the anchor out of place. If for some reason this doesn’t work, don’t force it. Check out the other methods.

Method 2: Back Out Anchor

This approach requires a screwdriver. Use one that fits snugly into the anchor. With a counter-clockwise motion, turn the screwdriver until the anchor comes out of the drywall. If this doesn’t do the trick, move on to Method 3.

Method 3: Cut and Hammer Anchor

Make sure to use protective eyewear. Using a drill with a one-inch cutting wheel, carefully cut off the anchor head. Next, tap a wide nail with a hammer on the mouth of the anchor. This should cause it to sink behind drywall. Be careful while using a cutting wheel.

Method 4: Recess Drywall Anchor

Sometimes the best approach is to recess the anchor instead of removing it. Begin by scoring the drywall surface with a utility knife. Then, take a screwdriver wider than the head of the anchor. Tap lightly with a hammer until it’s sunk down enough. Finally, patch it.

How to Patch Drywall Anchor Holes

Removing a drywall anchor is the first step. Next, it’s time to smooth it all out. How do you fill drywall anchor holes? Follow these three steps for a clean repair.

  1. First, grab a hammer. Tap gently around the edges of the anchor hole. Once the edges are flush with the surrounding surface, wipe down with a microfiber cloth or clean rag.
  2. Using an “X” pattern, fill the hole with drywall putty. You can use either a drywall spatula or knife. Remove excess compound and make flush with the wall. Let it dry overnight.
  3. Last but not least, use medium-grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface. Wipe down with a rag or microfiber cloth. Then, you can apply touchup paint.

Final Thoughts

Drywall anchors are a fantastic way to ensure your home fixtures and other items are properly secured to walls and ceilings. From art to towel racks to cabinets, these anchors provide easy application and peace of mind.