How to install wall anchors in wood and concrete?

How to install wall anchors in wood and concrete?

Johann a TV mounting Technician and Editor
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10 min read for expertise

Last Updated on June 7, 2022 by Johann Holsinger

What are wall anchors and why do we need  specialty screws or bolts?

Wall anchors are a way to secure pictures, shelves, and other items to your wall without having to rely on the limitation of basic or weaker methods.

Depending on the chosen anchor most require finding a solid stud or concrete to fix into. Since stud placement can be 16 to 24 inches apart, they might not always give you the best location to center a mirror or a TV mount.

The entire purpose of a wall anchor is to add extra gripping power to what would otherwise be a nail or a basic screw.

Some wall anchors are specifically made to support the weight of items up to 200 pounds or more, giving you the ultimate freedom in deciding where to hang your decor items or TV without studs.

What’s wrong with only using nails or screws?

In drywall and other standard interior wall types, a standard nail or screw may not provide enough security and weight rating to hold a mounting plate or artwork on the wall.

Over time, the nails or screws can pull out of the wall causing your hanging item to fall, as well as creating damage to your wall. 

  • Nails in particular that are bent upwards for handing can rotate downwards instantly causing your hardware or items to fall or break.
  • Nails don’t really anchor into the surface the drive penetrates, most wall anchors self expand to clamp securely to the surrounding surface of a hole.

Wall anchor installed

What home improvement projects to use anchor walls with?

1. Hanging art, pictures, frames, and mirrors

This is the most common reason you may decide to use a wall anchor.

Wall anchors give you complete freedom on where you place your art or mirrors.

Artworks and frames on a wall

2. Shelving

Install shelves with drywall anchors. You can use a variety of different wall anchors to place shelf runners or single L-brackets with ease.

3. Hanging shelves

 Finding the right stud location for a TV mount can be difficult. This is where wall anchors may come in to save the day.

4. Store and organization

Baskets, hampers, and other organization options can be secured with wall anchors in all rooms of your house.

5. Accent lighting

Both light runners and cosmetic lighting can be secured with wall anchors. Use winged or expanding anchors to ensure proper attachment.

What type of wall anchors to use on different surface types?

The majority of wall anchors will be lined with drywall also known as plasterboard walls. This type of wall works best with winged plastic anchors and other drywall-specific anchors.

Any home improvement store, as well as numerous general department stores, will carry the perfect wall anchors for drywall and plaster specifically. 

For mounting TV on brick and mortar walls, the best option is toggle bolts or plastic wall plugs.

Both of these options will need to be installed in pre-drilled holes and secured by using the included screw or bolt.

Using anchors in this type of wall will ensure the wall is not damaged or chipped when being used.

Concrete walls will benefit from plastic wall plugs, as well as Dyna bolts or Trubolts.

You may have to go to a specialty home improvement store to source these anchors, as each type has different properties and can provide excellent holding capacity and reasonable weight ratings in different situations.

When mounting comes to general weight capacity, you will find anchors with these ratings:

  • Light Duty. Found on your basic plastic anchors. This weight capacity is 10 pounds or less and is perfect for hanging pictures, mirrors, or small utility items such as toilet paper holders.
  • Medium Duty. Commonly found in threaded or self-drilling anchors. Medium duty is anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds of weight capacity and is great for hanging window dressings and curtains.
  • Heavy Duty. A perfect anchor for holding shelving and cabinets. The weight capacity can range from 25 to 50 pounds or more depending on the style of anchor you find in this weight rating.
  • Mega Duty. Normally suggested using with a stud for extremely high capacity ratings of up to 200 pounds. Perfect for installing large TV and other AV equipment.

What are the types of wall anchors?

1. Drywall anchors

What do drywall anchors look like?

Commonly found in white or yellow color, the score casing is made from plastic and will be found to have a large thread, they look like small plugs to screw inside a hole in your drywall.

When to use drywall threaded expansion anchors?

As their name implies, these anchors are specifically made for use in drywall.

Normal screws are then driven into the sleeve, this adds a wider tread for better grip onto brittle plasterboard.

Tools to prepare:

Drill, and screwdriver.

How to install drywall anchors?

Drill a small pilot hole. Push and screw the anchor inside the wall. Screw the actual metal screw into the center of the plastic anchor. As a screw penetrates, the plastic anchor will also expand to grip the wall more.

Drywall anchors up side down

2. Concrete Sleeve Anchors (Dyna Bolts and Trubolts)

What do sleeve anchors look like?

Normally made from metal and resembling a tube, concrete sleeve anchors are made to be used as a screw or bolt.

What situations should you use a sleeve anchor in DIY?

Almost exclusively used in concrete walls for securing high-weight items.

Tools to prepare:

Drill with a diamond bit, and a screwdriver or socket wrench.

How to install sleeve anchors? 

Pre-drill a hole that is a close match to the size of the anchor itself. Place the anchor into the hole by tapping the bolt in with a hammer.

Install the screw or bolt that was included with the anchor and tighten her up.

As you tighten, the anchor will be constricted from end to end causing the middle to expand outward and grip the surrounding concrete tightly.

Concrete anchors

3. Adhesive anchors

What do adhesive anchors look like?

Various thicknesses and sizes can be found in a standard metal threaded rod that can be cut with an angle grinder to the size and depth you need depending on the unique needs of your anchor.

The wider the threaded rod the more load the fixing will bear. And the bigger the nut that will be required at the end to hold everything tight.

When to use adhesive concrete anchors?

Normally reserved for concrete or metal, using adhesive concrete anchors is the strongest method for construction structural applications. Builders have advised us that adhesive and threaded rods can be used for both indoor and outdoor installation.

However, if you use any concrete anchors in an environment subject to the weather like rain you should use stainless steel. In this case stainless steel threaded rod.

Tools to prepare:

Epoxy adhesive- is not normally included with the anchors.

How to install adhesive anchors?

Clean and dry the hole that you want to place the anchor in first, whether you are drilling concrete, masonry, or brick with a brush and blower so the glue can stick to the sides of the hole.

Add the recommended amount of epoxy so that when the threaded rod is inserted the glue should start to ooze out the sides to confirm you have enough glue.

As you place the anchor, wait the recommended amount of time for the glue to dry and set before you bear any weight on the concrete anchor.

Adhesive anchors in to the brick

4. Winged plastic drywall anchors

What do winged plastic wall anchors look like?

Small plastic T-shaped pieces that have an insert hole for a screw or ribbed nail.

When should you use drywall plastic wing anchors?

Most commonly used on plaster walls or drywalls [1] though suitable for most wall types.

Tools to prepare:

Drill, and screwdriver.

How to install winged plastic anchors?

Drill a pilot hole and place the anchor inside. Insert the included pointed tool to expand the wings on the backside of the wall. Use the anchor to install your screw as usual.

Winged plastic anchor

5. Toggle bolts

What do toggle bolts look like? 

The screw-type consists of foldable wings that close around a bolt or screw and then open on the backside of the wall once the screw or bolt is installed and tightened.

When to use toggle wall bolts in a wall?

These guys work great for fastening to hollow drywall. Longer screws work will in shallow concrete walls and are an excellent choice for shelving systems, or items that need more holding when a wall stud is not present.

Tools to prepare:

Drill, and screwdriver.

How to install toggle bolts?

To install butterfly wall anchors, drill a pilot hole,

The anchor packaging should recommend the best size depending on your application.

Insert the toggle bolt through your shelf bracket and into the wall ensuring the wings have opened and are holding before you use it.

Toggle bolts into the concrete

6. Plastic wall plugs

What do plastic wall plugs look like? 

Wall plugs look like small plastic tubes with a few bumps and ribs along the outer edge. The center of the sleeve is hollow for installing a screw, when a screw is tightened the plastic will expand and clamp onto the outer surface of a concrete or masonry hole.

When to use plastic wall plugs?

An extremely common way for fixing standard screws into concrete, brick, and masonry for light-duty use.

Standard plastic screw plugs are affordable to purchase and are quick, easy, and are reliable at holding most screws into concrete, most cordless drills can predrill the small holes into the concrete using the hammer function.

Tools to prepare:

Drill, hammer, and screwdriver.

How to install plastic wall plugs?

To install ribbed plastic wall anchors, pre-drill a hole that is slightly smaller than the anchor itself. Hammer the anchor into the wall. Screw the included screw into the anchor and hang your item from the screw.

Inserting plastic wall plug on concrete wall

7. Spring anchors

What do spring anchors look like?

There are four types of spring anchors and each one looks slightly different.

The one thing each type has in common is a small hole on the far end to attach an expansion spring.

When to use a spring anchor?

Great for moving DIY projects spring anchors can fit into any female thread.

A female thread can be inserted in concrete, steel, or wood, a spring anchor can then fasten into the hole and springs can be attached to the ends.

Tools to prepare:

Drill, hammer, and screwdriver.

How to install spring anchors?

Drill a pilot hole for the anchor to be placed in. The packaging will give the recommended bit size depending on the specific anchor you selected.

Place the anchor into the hole and ensure the springs are able to release before using the anchor for weight-bearing.

Domed stainless steel spring anchor

8. Hollow wall anchors

What do hollow wall anchors look like? 

Hollow walls come in a wide range of shapes and designs, but their main purpose is to grip the wall if force is attempting to pull them out.

When to use hollow wall anchors?

Thicker walls as well as drywall or stud installation are common places to use hollow wall anchors. 

Tools to prepare:

Drill, hammer, and screwdriver.

How to install molly wall anchors?

Some anchors will need pilot holes pre-drilled, others will not. If yours do not require pilot holes, use a hammer to gently tap each one into the wall until you find the fixing flush with the surface.

Ensure your interior screw or bolt is tight before using the anchor.

Hollow wall anchors

9. Cement board self-tapping screws

What do cement board screws look like? 

These anchors look like screws with vertical cuts on the end that go into a cement sheet surface.

As the tip drills through the cement board, the wings can countersink a hole for the head before breaking off and looking like a normal screw.

When to use cement board screws to anchor?

Normally cement board screws are used as the best and most secure way to attach cement board to steel or studs without the need for pre-drilling holes into the board’s surface, as the tips make their own counter skink holes.

There are two different types, one for timber connection and one for drilling into metal.

Tools to prepare:

Drill, or impact driver.

How to install cement board screws?

Drill a pilot hole that is about the same size as the anchor for thicker cement sheets.

Use your finger to sit the anchor into the hole. From here, you can drive the anchor screw with a cordless drill to secure your panels.

Cement board screw anchors

Can you install wall anchors without drilling?

There are anchors known as threaded or self-drilling anchors. These can be installed without the need to pre-drill a hole yourself. In this case, the anchors are best installed into metal framing or cement sheets with a standard drill or impact driver. 

Once the anchor itself has been threaded into the wall, you can place the screw inside and attach the item or shelf bracket as normal. As the screw threads deeper into the anchoring point, the thread will expand onto the edges of the hole to tighten the grip.

Some threaded anchors will have an end that splits open, giving you a combination of threaded and expansion anchoring for extra security.

Dos and don’ts when installing wall anchors


  • Do ensure you have quality tools handy.
  • Do purchase anchors for your wall type.
  • Do pay attention to the weight rating on the anchors.


  • Do not depend on anchors to hold heavy items on drywall alone.
  • Do not secure heavy or dangerous items above your head with a plastic anchor only.

Working safely with drywall anchors

  • When drilling pilot holes to install wall anchors for drywall, make sure that the drill bit is slightly smaller than the anchor width.
  • Always be sure your anchors are secured before use.
  • Try to only use the included screws or bolts that came with your anchor kits.
  • Never put more than the recommended weight on your anchors.
  • Know how much weight can drywall can hold.


Different wall and ceiling anchors

Working safely with concrete anchors


  • Do go about ensuring the anchor is properly secured before installing any weight.
  • Do add extra epoxy with adhesive anchors to ensure a proper bond.


  • Do not put more weight on an anchor than the recommended rating.
  • Do not be afraid to shop around to find the best anchor for your needs.

All you need to know is the right anchor to use

Wall anchors of all types are an excellent way to secure a variety of small and large items to your wall safely and securely. 

Stop spending time searching for studs and use a stud finder so that you hit the perfect spot! That can work for your needs.

More information:

  1. The different types of hollow wall and drywall anchors,

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Hi, my name is Johann Holsinger, here at I share all of the tips and tricks I have professionally learned to help you set up your ultimate home entertainment system.