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How to Hang Pictures on Drywall Using 6 Different Drywall Anchors

  • by Arthur Harrison
  • 6 min read

Bare walls are the easiest thing to personalize...said no one ever.

We know, we know...choosing what pictures to hang and where to hang them can be overwhelming. Some folks even lose their cool when shopping for picture hangers because there’s just so many of them!

But don’t worry, we’ve done this a lot, and we know the exact hanging hardware you can use for different types of walls. Hanging picture frames and wall decor is actually easy when you know how to do it with the right tools and hardware.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about one of the most important parts of how to hang pictures on drywall: anchors.

So, let’s get right into it!

Identifying the Characteristics of Your Wall

The very first step in hanging anything on an empty wall is to find out what type of wall you have. Wall types include:

  • Drywall

  • Plasterboard

  • Concrete walls

  • Concrete blocks

  • Brick or stone 

Drywalls, however, are the most widely used type of wall today.

❔Wait, What’s Drywall? 

Drywall is a type of construction material that comes in large rigid sheets. It's usually used on interior walls in homes and commercial buildings for a nice finish. It’s popular in construction and DIY projects because of its durability and quick installation process. A few more reasons why it’s commonly used is because it’s low maintenance, inexpensive, and fire resistant.    

🔨 PRO TIP: you’ll know if it's a drywall or not by knocking on it. When you hear a hollow, airy sound then that’s drywall. If it makes a dense sound then it’s most likely concrete, brick, or stone.

When you have confirmed that your wall is, in fact, drywall, the next step is to know the size and weight of the object you want to hang. Knowing the numbers will help you choose what type of anchors to use.
There’s a bunch of drywall anchors and picture hangers to choose from but before diving deep into that, let’s prepare your wall and your tools first.

Getting Started

Before installing the hardware, know where you want to hang your picture or art and mark the wall with a pencil. Then, prepare the following tools that you will most likely use in the installation process.

Note that some drywall anchors already include the screws with the corresponding size in the package, but you can buy them separately too. Just remember to check the package for the screw and drill bit size to be used.

And speaking of drywall anchors, did you know that they come in different shapes and sizes? Knowing about the different types of anchors will make hanging frames on drywall easier. 

So, here’s everything you need to know about drywall anchors, including instructions on how to install them!

Types of Drywall Anchors

For small and light duty applications, use the following anchors:

  • Expansion/Plastic Anchors

  • Plastic Toggle Anchors

  • Self-drilling Drywall Anchors

 For medium to heavy duty applications, use these:

  • Molly Bolts

  • Zip Toggle Anchors

  • Toggle Bolts

Plastic Anchors

Also known as expansion anchors, they expand behind the wall to keep the screw in place when there’s no stud. When the screw is inserted, the shank splits open, putting pressure on the wall to secure the screw.

Plastic anchors are suitable for frames and art that weigh less than 15 pounds. They are commonly used by homeowners and DIYers because of its quick and easy installation.

⚒️How to install:

1. Predrill a small hole. 

2. Insert the anchor into the hole. Then, using a hammer, tap the anchor to push it in securely.

3. Insert  your screw using a screwdriver, and then hang your picture or art.

Plastic Toggle Anchors

Plastic Toggle Anchors are strong, versatile anchors that are designed to hold a little more weight than expansion anchors. They have a hollow shank that opens up and holds themselves in place once they’re inserted in the wall.

⚒️How to install:

1. Drill a hole using your power drill.

2. Fold the anchor and insert it inside the wall. Tap it lightly with a hammer to secure.

3. Insert the red key to push open the anchor behind the wall.

4. Place the picture hanger or the object over the anchor and insert the screw.

Self-drilling Drywall Anchors

Self-drilling or self-tapping anchors are made from hard nylon or metal. Unlike Expansion Anchors, this type of drywall anchors has its own threading and a sharp pointed shank, so it can be screwed directly into the wall without drilling.

⚒️How to install:

1. Take the anchor and drive it into the wall directly using a screwdriver until it’s flush to the wall.

2. Insert the screw into the center of the anchor and hang the object.

A  Snap Skru Anchor  is one example of a self-drilling anchor, and it can hold up to 45 pounds. What’s great about a Snap Skru is that you can remove the screw and the anchor will stay intact. 

On the other hand, threaded anchors also fall under this category because of their own threading and pointed end. Threaded anchors like these Zinc Drywall Anchors from Picture Hang Solutions are considered effective in hanging picture frames, art, and other wall decor like paintings.

Molly Bolts

For medium to heavy duty applications like mirrors, shadow boxes, or decorative shelves, molly bolts are the way to go.

These are metal hollow wall anchors that expand behind the wall to lock themselves in position. You may remove the screw in and out, but the fixing will remain intact. 

It’s important to use the correct size of molly bolts, otherwise it won’t work. The small-sized anchors are the best choice for drywall, while the bigger ones are for thicker walls.

⚒️How to install:

1. Drill a pilot hole in the appropriate size for your molly bolt to go through. 

🔨 PRO TIP: Don’t drill a hole too wide for your molly bolt. The fixing is designed to have claws that bite into the wall to stay in place while you turn the screw.

2. Insert the fixing into the hole, and press down the claws into the drywall to secure. Be sure to insert your bracket or picture hanger in between the screw and the anchor itself before attaching it to the wall.

3. Lastly, tighten the screw using a screwdriver. You’ll know that the anchor is already set when the screw becomes harder to rotate.

The great thing about a molly bolt is that you can remove the bolt just in case you want to adjust or change your wall decor. It’s perfect for homeowners who like switching things up from time to time.

Zip Toggle Anchors

Unlike previous anchors, the Zip Toggle Anchor does not expand. Instead, it anchors itself by spreading open on the other side of the wall. It will lock into place when you zip up the small plate located on the plastic legs and press it down against the wall.

⚒️ How to install:

1. Drill a hole in the correct size.

2. Slide the finger grips in opposite directions to straighten the toggle. Insert the toggle through the hole, and then slide the finger grips back together to push open the toggle on the other side of the wall.

3. Slide the small plate up to lock the toggle anchor in position. Then, press down on the plate against the wall while pulling back the legs to secure.

4. To break the legs, bend it down to separate the finger grips first. Then, spread it apart until it snaps off.

5. Insert the screw and you’re done.

Toggle Bolt

Toggle bolts work similarly like Zip Toggle Anchors. The difference is, you have to fold the toggle as you insert it through the hole, and then tighten the screw to secure. 

⚒️How to install:

1. Drill the hole on the wall.

2. Take your toggle, fold it towards you and slide it through the hole. When you hear a click sound, that means the toggle flipped open on the other side and is ready to be tightened.

3. Lightly pull out the screw and tighten it. To hang a picture, leave about half an inch of space between the wall and the head of the screw.

Remember that the size of the toggle bolt is determined by the diameter and length of the screw. The larger the bolt, the larger the toggle, and the longer the screw, the thicker the wall it can accommodate.

Final Thoughts

See, hanging things on drywall doesn't have to be intimidating!

Just remember to use these 6 picture hangers, and you'll be good to go. Don't worry, drywall is actually much stronger than it looks when you use the right hangers. So next time you're at the hardware store, you'll know exactly what to grab.

2 Responses



September 25, 2022

Thanks for this helpful blog! It’s, indeed, necessary to know your walls in the house for you to know the needed tools and hang them appropriately and safely. I’m reading blogs like this because I’m plan to buy wall art online through this site https://nichecanvas.com/. Would it be okay if a hammer and regular nail would be used to hang a portrait in a concrete wall?

Eli Richardson

Eli Richardson

June 28, 2022

It really helped when you explained how to prepare our wall before hanging a picture. The other day, my wife and I realized our walls lack artwork pieces, so we’d like to frame and hand a couple of them, and we’re sure your article will help us. We appreciate your advice on making our wall before making a hole to hang our framed art. http://www.denaligraphics.com/art-gallery

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