Use plastic wall anchors when you want to hang a picture or other item on a hollow wall, door, or ceiling, particularly if there are no wood studs or beams behind the surface. The anchor will provide the gripping power that you just cannot get with nails, screws, and drywall alone.
The anchor is made with a hollow center that expands when the screw is tightened into it. This pushes the anchor against the material with enough friction that it stays in place. Follow these steps to install wall anchors appropriately for your hanging needs.
Step 1 - Choose the Right Wall Anchor
Estimate the weight of the item you want to hang. Plastic anchors are best for fairly lightweight items - 30 pounds or fewer is ideal. Consider whether there will be regular force on the anchor. If you're mounting a towel bar, for example, you will need a larger anchor than if you were hanging a picture frame of the same weight. In the same case, choose ribbed anchors for additional strength. Wall anchors are often sold in small packages with the corresponding screws, though if you go to a hardware store, you may find that anchors and screws are sold individually.
Step 2 - Prepare for Anchor Installation
Mark the placement of the anchor with the awl or pencil. Make a hole in the drywall that is slightly smaller than the plastic anchor. If you use the awl, you will not have the same amount of dust debris as you will get with a drill, which is why we recommend using an awl if you have access to one.
Step 3 - Insert the Anchor
Use your fingers to press the anchor into the surface. Tap the head of the anchor lightly with the hammer until it is flush with the wall. Enlarge the hole slightly instead of trying to force the anchor. If the fit it too tight, the anchor will bend or break, and you will have to start over with a new one. Use a flathead screwdriver or the claw end of the hammer to gently remove the anchor if this happens.
Step 4 - Finish Up
Check that the anchor fits snugly. You should not see any gaps between the anchor head and the wall. If you do, you can fill the gap with drywall patch, letting it dry thoroughly before suspending any weight from the anchor, or you can simply take out the anchor as described above and replace it with a larger one. Put the screw in the anchor and finger-tighten. Use a screwdriver to tighten the screw into the anchor. Avoid over-tightening.
Now you're ready to hang the picture or other item from the anchored screw.
If you ever need to remove the wall anchor, you'll need to first remove the screw. After that, you can use a flathead screwdriver or hammer claw to loosen the anchor and back it out of the hole. You may end up gouging the wall a bit, but you can fill the hole and any gouges with drywall patch. Apply sparingly, allow to dry, then you'll be ready to sand and repaint.