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How to Put Anchor Screws in a Wall

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How to Put Anchor Screws in a Wall

You want to hang a heavy picture; you don't want it to pull a nail from the wall, so you use anchors. But how do you install the anchors?


Different anchors for different walls. Determine the type of wall you're hanging on.
Plaster wall: Has lathe boards behind it and has been plastered over the boards. This was a common practice in very old homes. For these you will need to use metal anchors. The metal anchors can also be used on concrete.
Drywall wall: Also known as sheetrock, gyprock or plasterboard. This is a plaster sheet that has paper on both sides. It is then screwed or nailed to the studs of the wall. These wall boards are used in most houses built from the 1970's on. With these types of walls, you need to use plastic anchors.
Determine where you want to hang your picture. On a plaster wall, it is best if you hang directly into a stud. On drywall you can hang anywhere (but if going into the stud, just use the screw, don't anchor). In concrete you can place it anywhere, except on the seams of concrete blocks. You can determine where the stud is by finding the nails in your baseboard trim, and following them up.
Make a small pencil mark where the center of your screw will go. If you're hanging an object like a shadow box, you need to measure the distance between the center of the hooks, and add an extra anchor.
The size of your anchor should be determined by the size of your screw, your screw should be at least 1 1/4 inches (6.9 cm) long if you are going into a stud. If you're not going into a stud, then the size isn't so vital but should be determined by the dimensions of the object that you are hanging. If you tell your hardware store clerk what you plan to hang, they will usually set you up with the ideal screw and anchor. The tip edge of the screw should fit into the open end of the anchor, and it should be obvious that the body of the screw will be snug, if not slightly bigger than the inner opening of the anchor. In addition the screw should not be longer than the anchor.
Using a drill bit a little smaller than the closed end of the plastic anchor (the same size for metal anchors), drill a hole through the center of your mark. You only need to go as deep as the anchor. Brush off the excess sheetrock/plaster dust.
Place the anchor with the closed end evenly into the hole. Gently tap the open end with a hammer or rubber mallet until the anchor is almost flush with the wall.
Insert the screw and slowly screw it into the anchor, leaving an 1/8 (3.1 mm) to a 1/4 ( 6.3 mm) of the screw out to hang your picture on. Most of the metal anchors are made of lead, so as the screw goes into them they expand, as will plastic ones.

When adding an anchor to drywall, you don't need the drill & bit. All you need to do is screw the screw into the drywall (slowly, so as not to go crooked & making the hole wider than needed), and then back it out, then tap in your anchor, and insert the screw into the anchor.
If a metal anchor is too long and won't drill into the drywall flush, drill the hole initially and then snap off the teeth at the end of anchor with a pair of pliers. This should give you some more room.

Make sure you're not drilling directly above an outlet, switch, or back side of a plumbing pipe. While drilling, if you hit a metal plate that is an indication not to go any further (as it usually covers electrical work or plumbing).
When drilling into concrete you need to use a hammer drill.
Be sure to use round head screws, and not flat head type.
If the item is really heavy, you may want to use butterfly nuts instead.
If the item is really light, it can be hung on small nails & poster can be hung with stick pins.

Things You'll Need
Drill & bit (see "Tips")
Hammer or rubber mallet