Plastic Anchors vs Metal Anchors Plastic Anchors vs Metal Anchors

Plastic anchors should be an essential addition to your home improvement toolbox. A plastic anchor is typically an anchoring sleeve for hanging objects on interior walls. They are easy to use and are commonly included with brackets, shelves, and large picture frames. Plastic anchors are not the only type of anchor available. There are also metal anchors that homeowners can use for securing objects to walls. However, they are used in different applications.

Anchor Design

The difference between the two types of anchors begins with the many designs that each incorporates. Plastic anchors are typically sleeves that a screw is driven into. This sleeve is set into a pilot hole in the wall and grabs the sides of the wall as the screw is driven into the sleeve. A metal anchor can have many designs because they are used in more applications. A simple sleeve to a toggle bolt, bolt anchors and molly bolts are all different types of metal anchor design.

Anchor Use

A plastic anchor is mostly going to be used for drywall applications. When driving a screw, or a nail, into drywall, the gypsum inside is not going to hold it in place for very long. With any amount of weight applied to the screw it can easily slide out. The plastic anchor is for smaller applications like picture frames and small shelves. Metal anchors, on the other hand, can be used in many different applications like cement, wood, drywall, and concrete blocks. They are great for securing posts for an arbor, installing a hand rail, large shelving units, and even roof rafters. 

Anchor Installation

Installing the various anchors are both dependent upon a drill. For the plastic anchors a simple cordless drill is enough to create a pilot hole. Once the hole is made, a small hammer is used to drive the anchor into the drywall. The hole should be same diameter of the opening of the plastic sleeve. Metal anchors may need a heavier duty drill (in the case of installing in concrete or blocks). Once the hole is drilled into the material you basically position the anchor into the pilot hole by driving it in with a small hammer.

Specialty Metal Anchor Installation

There are some metal anchors that will require a special tool in order to use them properly. A molly bolt, which is a bolt with metal teeth that spring out and embed into the back of the wall material, is a good example of a special anchor. A molly setter is used for this application. Once the pilot hole is drilled into the material, the molly setter places the anchor into the hole and pulls the included screw out to set the teeth. 

It Is All About Application

To determine whether or not a plastic anchor, or a metal anchor, will be needed in a given situation you must look at two things. The weight of the object that you are going to hang, or secure, and the type of material that you are mating it to. A plastic anchor is much better for a drywall covering and a small frame. However, the metal anchor is better for concrete and heavy shelves. 

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