Anchors come in two varieties: expansion anchors and hollow-wall anchors. An expansion anchor works by expanding into the material it is installed in and should be primarily used for hard surfaces, like brick or breeze block walls. A hollow-wall anchor spreads behind the wall's surface and is primarily used in drywall applications. A wall anchor comes with a weight rating, providing the amount of weight the anchor can safely support.
Plastic Expansion Anchors
A plastic expansion anchor is so named because of the plastic sleeve that's inserted into the wall prior to the screw being screwed into place. A pilot hole is drilled into the wall and the plastic sleeve is inserted. The appropriate-sized screw is then screwed into the plastic sleeve, which cause the sleeve to expand behind the wall, making it more difficult for the sleeve to come out of the wall. The decorative object is then hung on the screw. These anchors come in a variety of sizes to accommodate various weights. Plastic expansion anchors are the least secure form of wall anchor and should be used to hang things where the pressure on the anchor is perpendicular to the wall.
Threaded Drywall Anchors
A threaded drywall anchor is a screw or nut with a fin at the bottom of it. It may be either nylon or metal; the metal is a higher-quality anchor. When inserted into the drywall, the fin opens up, preventing the screw from coming back out of the opening created when it was installed. Punch a small hole in the wall at the point of insertion using a small nail or an awl before inserting a threaded drywall anchor. The threaded drywall anchor is slightly stronger than a plastic expansion anchor.
Threaded Drywall Toggles
The threaded toggle anchor resembles the threaded drywall anchor, except the fin is in the centre of the anchor. Insert the cap with the toggle in the centre and then screw in the screw or nut. As the screw is tightened, it will pull the fins until they settle against the interior of the drywall. When the screw is removed, oftentimes the toggle falls behind the wall so it can't be used again.The threaded drywall toggle is stronger than the threaded drywall anchor.
Winged Plastic Anchors
The winged plastic anchor is an anchor with two plastic wings at the end. It comes in a package with a small tool designed to open the wings once the anchor is inserted into the wall, holding the anchor in place. If the packaging does not include the tool, a small screwdriver can do the same thing. Stronger than the threaded drywall toggle, the winged plastic anchor will suffice for most typical household hanging requirements.
Molly bolts are bolts that have a metal sleeve around them and a pointed end. The molly bolt is installed by gently tapping the pointed end until it's in the drywall and then screwing the bolt into the wall. As the screw is tightened, the metal sleeve expands, creating an X shape behind the wall, which holds the bolt in place. Molly bolts are widely used for hanging art and shelves on drywall and are a high-quality product.
Toggle bolts are long screws or bolts with toggles at the end of them. Thread the toggle partially up the length of the bolt, then hold the toggle flat against the bolt and insert it into the drywall. As the bolt is tightened, the toggle tightens against the inside of the drywall. The toggle bolt is considered to be the best choice for hanging an object on drywall, regardless of what the object is.
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