The Best Drywall Anchors


We found eight of the strongest and most innovative products that will help you install your decor and even moderately-heavy shelves on standard drywall without a wooden or metal stud for support. The E-Z Ancor – Toggle Anchor is the best drywall anchor for most jobs, with easy self-drilling installation and enough support for moderately heavy loads. If you need maximum strength, the Wing-Its – Master Anchor will hold fast until you pull your wall apart, and Monkey Hooks are great for decorating.

Our Top Choices

Top Pick


E-Z Ancor

Toggle Anchor

See Price at AmazonSee Price at Home Depot

Strongest


WingIts

Master Anchor

See Price at AmazonSee Price at Home Depot

For Decor


Monkey Hook

See Price at Amazon

Budget Pick


Toggler

SnapSkru

See Price at AmazonSee Price at Lowe's

We found eight of the strongest and most innovative products that will help you install your decor and even moderately-heavy shelves on standard drywall without a wooden or metal stud for support. The E-Z Ancor – Toggle Anchor is the best drywall anchor for most jobs, with easy self-drilling installation and enough support for moderately heavy loads. If you need maximum strength, the Wing-Its – Master Anchor will hold fast until you pull your wall apart, and Monkey Hooks are great for decorating.

How we selected

Everyone who owns a screwdriver probably knows that drywall isn’t strong enough by itself to support cabinets, flat-screen TVs or large mirrors. But many of us need a way to mount in a specific location without the support of a wooden stud, and few of us can add a brace just for decorating.

Every handyman has different preferences for fasteners, and drywall anchors see a lot of debate. We looked for recommendations from handyman blogs, forums, and publications like This Old House to narrow down what we were expecting from anchors we found.

ProjectFarm’s channel on YouTube has an admirable dedication to thorough testing of products like these, so we were eager to check well-reviewed products they didn’t test and to verify their results.

After compiling a list of all the top recommended anchors, we eliminated basic options that weren’t at least rated to the strength of an easy-to-use self-drilling anchor like the Toggler – SnapSkru. We also eliminated options like molly bolts that require extra work for little return in actual strength for a drywall installation.

When multiple vendors made the same product, we picked the option with better reviews, a better price or better availability. (In that order of priority.)

We tested a cast-zinc anchor that is supposed to help in situations where you might accidentally hit a stud, but it fared so poorly in testing (it held half the weight of pop-open plastic anchors) we didn’t include it in the final list.

Important features to consider

Installation type – If you’re handy with a screw gun, you probably won’t blink at pre-drilling holes, but you can save a lot of time with self-drilling anchors. Hammer-in anchors are also an option, though pushing through the drywall backing paper can tear it and make a weak spot. A sharp awl and a drywall saw can be even easier than a drill, so long as you keep your hole centered.

Support type – Pop-open anchors are easy to install and hold well compared to drywall alone, but if you want to hold up a shelf you need an anchor that spreads the weight out. The biggest factor in anchor strength for most applications is how well the anchor spreads tensile load (pulling away from the wall) across a wide area of the inside of the drywall sheet. Look for a two-piece design with a brace inside the wall that clamps down when you tighten your screw through the anchor.

Reusable designs – Some anchors will pop out of the wall easily when you remove the screw, but others will require prying or even poking around with wire inside the screw hole to straighten the flip-out anchor so you can pull it out. A few designs are basically permanent, so you need to make a larger hole to remove them.

Hole and flange size – If you’ve got the world’s strongest anchor but it leaves an ugly plastic flange sticking out past the edge of your shelf bracket, it’s not much help. Some anchors also require making holes in your wall as big as 3/4″.

Screw size – If you’ve got a particular bracket you need to bolt to the wall, note the size of the holes and compare your options. A small high-strength machine screw can still work with a larger bracket hole if you add a fender washer, but an oversize screw won’t go through a small hole unless you get out the drill.

1

E-Z Ancor - Toggle Anchor

EZ - Ancor 25220 toggle anchor

See Price at Amazon

For the simplest installation that still has good strength, it’s hard to beat the E-Z Ancor – 25220 Drywall Toggle Anchor. The self-drilling design goes in easily with a screw gun or even a manual screwdriver.

The genius of this anchor is the way it clamps itself to the wall. A flip-down toggle bar is threaded to accept the included #8 machine screw. As you push the screw through the center of the anchor, it pops the toggle out. Then the toggle pulls tight against the inside of the wall as you thread the screw in.

There’s a small mark on the flange so you can make sure the toggle points up, maximizing the weight it can hold, but you shouldn’t over-tighten the anchor once it’s seated just to line that up.

We tested with a shelf bracket, loaded so weight will pry the anchor out of the wall. The E-Z Ancor toggle design held quite well, up to 70 pounds of load on a shelf 10 inches from the wall. The manufacturer rates these for a full 100 pounds of shear load (straight down to the floor instead of out from the wall).

When you move out or decide to move whatever you’re hanging, there are two obstacles to removing this anchor. First, you need to flip the toggle back into line, which is possible with a small piece of wire. Then you need to use a utility knife under the flange and pry it away from the wall while you twist the anchor out. Most of us will probably want to punch the anchor through the wall or just paint over it rather than go through all that work.

Read more…

Pros

  • No pre-drilling required
  • Good load rating
  • Seats flush to the wall

Cons

  • Not as easy to get support arm pointing vertical as with a push-in anchor
  • Tricky to recover if you want to move it

2

WingIts - Master Anchor

WingIts - Master Anchor

See Price at Amazon

For even more load-bearing capacity, the WingIts – Master Anchor uses a set of three plastic legs to spread force evenly over a wide area. The legs are flexible, so they also absorb more shock than other fasteners without slipping.

If you need to mount a grab rail, television, or some other piece of hardware that absolutely has to be secure, drilling into wooden studs is always a must. But if you can only get one or two screws into a stud, and there’s no way to add a piece of wood to span the studs you have access to, then these are the anchors we would trust with the heaviest weight.

The manufacturer rates the full shear strength of these anchors to 300 pounds in half-inch drywall. In our shelf test, which creates a tensile load prying the anchor out from the wall, WingIts held strong until the drywall screws holding our test wall to the frame started to fail at 100 pounds. We didn’t have a full mounted-and-taped wall to test the real maximum strength with, but you’re more likely to break a large chunk out of your wall than to see one of these anchors pop through.

WingIts require a three-quarter-inch hole for mounting, and the flange left on the outside is a full inch. The manufacturer suggests this makes them good to use after you’ve tried other anchors and had a small blow-out, but our experience was that it mainly just took slightly longer to ream out a 3/4″ hole — many basic drill kits don’t have bigger than a 3/8″ bit.

Just because these anchors perform well in brand-new drywall under lab conditions doesn’t mean you should trust them completely in a random piece of old and potentially-damaged drywall in your house, but if you need an anchor that performs as well as possible, this is the one to beat.

Read more…

Pros

  • Drywall will probably pull off the wall before this anchor pulls out
  • Big hole is helpful for some repair jobs
  • Skinny #8-32 size screws are easier to use for some brackets

Cons

  • Requires reaming a big 3/4″ hole
  • Recovering anchors means making a one-inch hole
  • Tied for most expensive

3

Monkey Hook

Monkey hook

See Price at Amazon

For hanging decor items to brighten up a blank wall, a drywall anchor is definitely overkill. But a small nail isn’t very secure against earthquakes, and they start to slide in or wiggle after you remove a painting or clock and put it back a few times. The Monkey Hook has this problem licked: The hook is even easier to install than a nail, and it’s much more secure.

To hang a picture, just push the sharpened tip through the wall a quarter-inch above where you want your hook. We tested the “Gorilla Grade” hooks from the 30 piece Home and Office Pack with weights hanging off the hook instead of trying to pull it away from the wall. The bigger-gauge hook started to dig down into our fresh sample drywall at 55 pounds.

In addition to the original size and Gorilla Grade hooks, this package also has ten hooks that sit closer to the wall for tricky items that need to be as flush as possible.

Monkey Hooks are fairly expensive compared to other fasteners, but they’re so easy to use it’s worth keeping some around for those times when you have a sudden need to put up a landscape painting or a new clock.

Read more…

Pros

  • No tools required
  • Strong enough for large decorative items
  • Smallest hole possible for easy repair when you move

Cons

  • Hook only, can’t secure shelves
  • Fairly expensive for what it is
  • Your contractor friends might laugh at you

4

Toggler - SnapSkru

Snapskru

See Price at Amazon

If you need a less-expensive anchor that’s only going to hold up a decorative shelf, the Toggler – SnapSkru self-drilling plastic anchors are a good compromise between economy and strength.

These anchors don’t have a fancy flip-out toggle or an impressive load rating, but they do pop open after you put a screw into them, and that makes them better-than-average for holding up a small shelf. Our test load was 55 pounds before the anchor wings collapsed and it popped out of the hole.

ProjectFarm on YouTube showed these anchors holding almost double their rated shear-force strength, and we’re glad we tried them. The simplicity of the self-drilling design makes them easy to work with, but they’re just far enough behind the E-Z Ancor – Toggle Anchor that we had to give those top place for a general-purpose anchor.

Pros

  • Pierces drywall without a pre-drilling step
  • Holds better than some metal anchors
  • An inexpensive way to hold up a decorative shelf

Cons

  • Not enough support for bigger jobs
  • Hard to install with a manual screwdriver
  • Taking screws out may ruin anchor hole

5

Toggler - Snap-Toggle BB

Toggler - Snap Toggle BB

See Price at Amazon

If you want all the load-bearing strength you can get, but the one-inch flange on the WingIts anchors is too big, the Toggler – Snap-Toggle BB anchor might be just what you’re looking for. They also use bigger 1/4″ machine screws, which is a fairly common size that might be a better match for what you’re mounting.

Toggler designed these anchors for a single-use installation: After you make a half-inch hole, the toggle can be inserted through and leveled against the wall with long, plastic positioning straps. You zip a small plastic flange into place — almost like tightening a zip-tie — and snap off the extra length of the straps. At that point Your anchor is ready to receive one of the included 1/4-20 machine screws, which tighten the toggle securely against the back of the wall as you mount your shelf or television.

In our test, the Snap-Toggle held up just as well as the WingIts anchor, which is to say, our test drywall started peeling off the studs before the anchor broke through. The design is similar to an old-fashioned toggle anchor, but the plastic straps position the support perfectly and keep it tight, so there’s less chance of the anchor digging a corner into the paper and weakening the wall.

If you would prefer to use smaller bolts, the BA size Snap-Toggle uses 3/16-24 bolts and only really gives up some theoretical tensile strength; your drywall is still the weak link.

If you need to remove these anchors, punching them through the wall or trying to cut the plastic support off and dropping the metal toggle inside the wall is really your only choice. Fortunately the hole they leave behind is only about a half-inch, since the plastic pieces are only just strong enough to hold the toggle in place on the back of the wall.

Read more…

Pros

  • Second-highest weight capacity
  • Works with common 1/4-20 threaded bolts
  • Only 1/2″ hole required

Cons

  • Installation is tricky
  • One-time use
  • Straps sometimes break in the box

6

Hillman - Sharkie

Sharkie

See Price at Home Depot

If you prefer to pre-drill a hole rather than using a self-drilling anchor, but you don’t need something as complicated as the WingIts or Snap-Toggle anchors, the Hillman – Sharkie is a good pick.

This is much like a traditional plug-style plastic anchor, but like the Toggler – SnapSku, it expands and resists being pulled out quite well. In our test, this anchor performed just as well as the SnapSkru when holding a shelf bracket under load, up to 55 pounds hanging off the end of the bracket.

We tested the large 5/16″ size to see if it might fare better than smaller anchors, but Hillman also sells these in two smaller sizes or as a kit with a drill and driver bit. If you can’t find the Sharkie, the Toggler – Alligator is basically identical.

Pros

  • Like a standard plastic anchor, but more secure
  • Drill-then-insert install is better for some jobs
  • Accepts up to a large #14 screw (#12 included)

Cons

  • Needs a 5/16″ hole (drill recommended)
  • Not enough security for heavy items
  • Removing bigger screws may spin this anchor

7

Spring Toggle Bolt

Generic spring toggle

See Price at Amazon

Nearly everyone has seen the plastic plug anchors that you often get for free with wall brackets, but spring-toggle anchors like these from Hillman are the next most common. This mechanism is often used specifically for mounting lightweight decorative items overhead, things like ceiling lights.

We bought anchors from Hillman because they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to find, but almost any toggle bolt will do the same job. You shouldn’t have to pay more than 25 cents per anchor. Different screw sizes are available, but based on our tests the strength is going to be about the same. The anchor we tested takes a #8 screw and needs a half-inch hole; it failed after only 50 pounds of shelf load when the anchor cut through the inner drywall paper.

The big downside with a toggle bolt is that you need to insert the toggle with the bracket you’re hanging already on the screw — once you pop that anchor through the wall, backing out the screw will mean dropping the support into that black hole behind your drywall. There’s nothing between what you’re hanging and the wall surface, either, unless you add a washer.

Pros

  • Affordable and easy to find
  • Reliable performance for lightweight loads
  • Easy to remove, the anchor just drops away inside the wall

Cons

  • Other anchors hold far more weight
  • Installation is a bit tricky
  • You have to install these with your bracket, shelf or TV mount attached

8

WallClaw

WallClaw

See Price at Amazon

The WallClaw’s hammer-in anchor is one of the most unique solutions we’ve seen, and it would be useful to have one in certain situations where you don’t have access to a powered drill or screw gun. They don’t live up to the promise of excellent load bearing as well as we’d hoped, though.

These anchors pierce the drywall (ideally with a sharp hammer blow) rather than boring through, and that makes them a little bit quicker and easier to install than anchors that require pre-drilling. Self-drilling anchors like our top pick can technically go in with just a manual screwdriver, but if you had to put in a dozen anchors without a drill the hammer would save your wrists.

There’s a mark so you know which side the anchor leg will pop up on. With a screw-in anchor, you risk breaking the edges of your hole if you need another half-turn so the arrow points up.

If you over-torque the included screws directly into the anchor, the support wings can begin to twist and tear out a chunk of drywall, so be careful when tightening things up.

The real disappointment is in the weight test, though, with the anchor pulling out a small chunk of drywall at only 40 pounds of load on the shelf. That’s better than a threaded zinc anchor or plastic plug, but this was the only anchor that couldn’t take 70% of the rated shear weight on our shelf bracket.

Read more…

Pros

  • Install with just a hammer and screwdriver
  • Re-usable

Cons

  • Hammering weakens drywall
  • Over-torque the screw and you could tear out a chunk of drywall
  • Bright green anchor flange might be too visible for some jobs

Daniel Jackson, Writer

Daniel is a Canadian farm boy who grew up to be a nerd with a literature degree and too many hobbies to count. He emigrated from Canada to California in 2013, and now writes for Your Best Digs full-time. Daniel remains unapologetic about Canadian spelling, serial commas, and the destruction of expensive travel mugs.

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