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How to Use Anchor Screws

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Anchor screws should be used for hanging heavy objects on a wall, such as a large picture or a mirror. These allow you to hang items virtually anywhere, without having to sink the screw into a stud. More importantly, anchor screws will prevent the weight of the object from pulling nails out of the wall, creating unsightly holes as well as posing a potential safety hazard.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Five minutes

Here's How to Work with Anchor Screws



  1. Determine the weight of the object to be hung and purchase the appropriate anchor and screw sets. The label on the box will indicate the maximum weight that the anchor and screw set will support. Generally speaking, pictures and objects with a total weight of 15 pounds or less can be hung using plastic expansion anchors or metal threaded drywall anchors. These are often sold with the appropriate screws already in the pack. Medium to heavy objects, such as mirrors and or shelving, should be hung using toggle bolts. A salesperson at a hardware store can help you make the right selection.
  2. Decide where to hang the picture or object.
  3. Use a pencil to mark an “X” on the wall where the screw will go. If the object is large or particularly heavy, you may need to use two anchors.
  4. Use a drill to start the hole for the anchor. The drill bit should be a little smaller than the closed end of the anchor. If the bit is too big, the anchor will not fit snugly inside of the hole. Drill in the center of the pencil mark.
  5. Brush the dust from the area.
  6. Gently tap the plastic anchor into the wall using a hammer or rubber mallet. Insert the screw into the anchor and slowly screw it in. If using a threaded drywall anchor, screw it in using a Phillips head screwdriver. If using a toggle anchor, thread the toggle on the screw about 1/4 inch from the end. Push the toggle through the hole in the wall. The toggle will make a snapping sound when it springs open on the other side of the wall. Tighten the screw until snug, but do not overtighten.
  7. Be certain to leave part of the screw protruding so that you can hang your object on it.
  8. Place the object on the screw.


Tips for Using Anchor Screws

  • Buy more anchors than you need for the project. Some may break or split during installation.
  • When hanging shelves, buy an anchor that can support the both weight of the shelf and the items that will be placed on it.
  • If using plastic expansion anchors, buy the larger size. The more threads on the anchor, the stronger it is.

What You Need to Work with Anchor Screws

  • Screws
  • Anchors
  • Screwdriver with appropriate head
  • Drill and bit
  • Hammer or rubber mallet
  • Pencil
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