Plastic Wall Anchors - for sheet rock
Knowledge of how to use wall anchors and fasteners is essential when you're trying to hang something on your walls.
If you do it right, it stays. If you don't do it right, you wind up with larger holes in your wall.
And, things come off, tilt to the side, or fall down from where you want them to be.
Part of frugal living involves doing things yourself - being self reliant. Being a bit more self reliant can save time and money that would otherwise be spent waiting for and paying for a handyman.
The choice is yours, wait and pay, or do-it-yourself and save.
Using an anchor to mount something on a wall is one of the easiest do it yourself tasks, so don't be afraid to try it.
Let's look at plastic anchors that are intended for use in sheet rock walls. These are very common and relatively easy to use. Proper use is more than just knowing how, it also includes knowing why a particular anchor is best suited for a particular application.
Sometimes you need a metal wall anchor. It all depends of the type of wall and what you're trying to mount on it. For purposes of this discussion, let's assume we're trying to mount something of modest weight on a sheet rock wall.
Why Use a Wall Anchor
As the name would suggest, you're trying to anchor something to the wall. If you're familiar with sheet rock, you know that it's a lot like a flat layer of chalk between two sheets of thick paper. It's usually about 1/2 inch thick.
Sheet rock (or drywall) isn't very strong. You can punch a hole through it with your fist. You can stab through it with a screwdriver or a knife. A hammer can rip it to pieces in no time at all.
Nevertheless, it's used in construction as a fire resistant and sound deadening material between rooms. It can be textured and painted, and it can be patched relatively easily.
Let's look at two types of plastic wall anchors and how they are typically used.
Plastic Expanding Plugs
The most common plastic wall anchor is a type of plastic expanding plug that allows your fastener to grip the wall with much more strength than if you used just a screw by itself.
The idea is to insert the plastic anchor into a hole in the wall and then the anchor expands a bit while you tighten the screw that holds your object to the wall.
Each of the anchors pictured above (except the one on the far right) have one of more "splits" in their design. As the screw is tightened deeper into the anchor, it spreads the "splits" and these grab the sheet rock wall.
This type of wall anchor expands into the hole in the drywall to provide a little island of strength in the sheet of "chalk and paper."
The anchor shown to the left is typically used for larger pan head screws that hold those white wire rack closet organizers to the wall. It has a large flat face to it so the larger screw head has a broad platform to tighten onto.
The four anchors shown below are most commonly used for light to moderate duty with flat head screws. The larger the plug, the more weight it can hold. The longer the plug, the more it can be used for thick sheet rock as well as other applications where you might need to get a grip on deep soft material such as:
- soft wood like pine
- fiber board
Each of the four anchors shown above have ribs running their length. These tiny ribs help keep the wall anchor from twisting in the sheet rock when you turn the screw. This is why when making a hole for the anchor, it should be just a little smaller than the anchor. This allows you to tap the wall anchor in place so the ribs will grip the wall and keep it from turning.
If you drill a hole that is too large, then the anchor will spin in place and make an even larger hole. Not to worry, just use a larger diameter wall anchor.
The larger three of these four wall anchors have fins or barbs on them. This provides excellent gripping power on the soft sheet rock wall once the screw has caused them to expand outward.
The anchor second from the left is rigid and pointed. This can be tapped into sheet rock once you have a small hole started with a drill bit or an awl. The hole should be about the diameter of the middle of the plug. This will let it go into the hole easily, and yet allow the larger "skirt" to lock it into the sheet rock when you tap it into place.
The photo left shows one of the plastic plug type wall anchors installed. Notice that it's flush with the wall. Also, notice that this anchor has an enlarged hole with thread marks. That's because it's been used. What was mounted to it has been removed. That's one of the advantages of using wall anchors - you can remove and replace items on the wall without disturbing the sheet rock that is held in place by the anchor.
To remove any of these anchors, simply screw into them just enough for a firm grip, and use pliers to pull straight out on the screw. This should remove it from the wall.
Plastic Toggle Anchor
The wall anchor below is a nylon toggle anchor. These are used when high strength is necessary in sheet rock, wall board or paneling.
These type of anchors are a little trickier to install, but they are very strong.
A hole is drilled into the wall that allows the wings to be inserted after they are pressed together to make a "spike" shape. After insertion of the "spike," the anchor is tapped into place to set the ribs into the sheet rock.
Meanwhile, the "spike" on the other side of the wall spreads back into its wing shape.
When you screw your fastener into this anchor, it pulls the wings against the back of the sheet rock wall. The crushing effect holds the anchor tightly to the wall.
To remove this anchor, your only option is to punch it through to the inside of the wall and patch the hole. It's a bit like a fish hook in that regard. It holds real well, but you'll have a tough time getting it back out without damaging the wall - you need to just push it through.
Done with Wall Anchors, take me back to Do It Yourself