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How Much Weight Can Drywall Anchor Hold?

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A question that comes up from time to time is ‘how much weight can drywall anchors hold?’, or, more accurately, ‘will the drywall anchor hold the given load?’

The amount of weight that can drywall anchor hold depends on a variety of factors such as drywall thickness, Existing stud, and joist location, Hanging Location, and load-bearing capacity.

In his post, we will break down each of these factors, and how they affect overall weight.

How Much Weight Can Drywall Anchors Hold?

What is the purpose of a Drywall Anchor?

A drywall anchor provides mechanical fastening for sheetrock in order to attach things like shelves or hand railings. The purpose of the drywall anchor is to hold the given load by transferring the shear stress from the anchor to the drywall and then into either a stud or joist.

Different types of Drywall Anchors available

These are the three most common types of anchors available:

Toggle bolds

These are best for heavy items. A toggle bolt is a two-piece metal channel with a wall anchor on one end and a screw on the other side. Once you drill a hole in the drywall, you slide the wall anchor into place, then set your screw for the toggle bolt. The toggle bolt is under tension until you tighten the screw to fasten it to the drywall.


Self-Drilling anchors are the most common type. They simply screw directly into the drywall when you drill the hole, and then the load from your shelf or hand railing is transferred into the screw.

NOTE: For heavier loads use metal screw anchors. 

Drive Anchors

Drive Anchors are basically small screws that you tap into the drywall with a hammer.

Once they are tight against the wall, these can be used as if they were any other type of screw anchor for hanging things like shelves or handrails.

How much weight can a drywall anchor hold?

How much weight can drywall anchors hold depends on a variety of factors, which we are going to explain more in detail.

Drywall thickness

The thicker the drywall, the more load it can hold.

Most homes are equipped with drywall that’s 1/2-inch thick, which can support moderate loads.

Drywall anchors aren’t designed to hold a super heavy load, so if you have a large item to hang or hold, such as a heavy mirror or piece of art (especially with a wire), you should look for a stud.

This is especially true if you’re using an expanding anchor or threaded anchor, because the load is not distributed evenly.

They work best with lighter loads, such as small shelves or hand rails, to keep them from coming loose.

If you’re hanging a heavier object, use toggle bolts or screw anchors.

Existing stud and joist locations and condition

The best location is, if you place your Anchors in a stud or joist when possible. If there’s no stud in the area (and it’s located in a hollow area of the wall), you’ll need to pay attention, how much weight you put on them.

Be sure to check the weight rating of your anchor before you hang something on it.

Hanging Location

If you’re hanging an item in the middle of a wall, screw anchors are easy to use and provide a quick and durable solution (especially if they are metal).

TIP: If you're trying to hang something on the end of a wall, it may be difficult to access the back of the wall to install the anchor so you'll need a stud finder and may want to use toggle bolts instead.

Load bearing capacity of the drywall anchor

The load bearing capacity is dependent on many factors, but mainly on the drywall anchors design, thickness of the drywall and the size of the screw.

Knowing how much weight your anchor can hold is important when choosing a drywall anchor.

Keep in mind:

  • Toggle bolts could hold up to 50 pounds.
  • A self-drilling and Drive anchors could hold anywhere up to 30 pounds. It depends mainly which material you choose.

Why do my drywall anchors keep breaking?

If your drywall anchors keep breaking, the first thing to do is figure out if they’re hitting studs or joists when installed.

If there are no studs in the area to secure into, you’ll need to use toggle bolts or screw nails.

When an anchor breaks, it could be because of a number of things:

  • Material you are hanging is to heavy – The material you’re hanging is too heavy for the anchor, and the weight load exceeds its capacity.
  • You’re using a bolt that’s too long – The object you’re hanging is shifting around or pulling at an angle, which can cause some anchors to wiggle out of place, even when properly installed.
  • You’re using the wrong type of anchor – If you’re trying to hang a heavy mirror on drywall, for example, use toggle bolts instead of regular anchors. They hold much more weight.
  • Gravity is pulling down on the object – When gravity pulls an object toward the ground it can cause pressure on your wall which can cause your anchor to fail. If you’re using an expanding anchor or the sleeve-type, you’ll need to use a toggle bolt or screw anchor.

Tips when using Drywall Anchors

  1. Use toggle bolts or metal screws if you’re hanging heavy objects.
  2. Use a stud finder to determine if there’s a stud or joist in the area you’re hanging something.
  3. Don’t use a larger toggle bolt than recommended for your load bearing wall, as it can overload your wall and cause an accident.
  4. If you want to hang something on the end of a hollow wall, use molly bolts.
  5. If you’re having trouble finding a stud, try marking the center of two studs and tap on the wall to see if there’s one in between.
  6. Lastly, don’t forget that drywall anchors are not load bearing objects. They should be used for lightweight items that aren’t likely to shift or break loose.

Can drywall anchors hold 30 pounds?

Considering the thickness of your drywall, the load-bearing capacity of your anchor and screw, you should be able to use a drywall anchor to hold up to 30 pounds without to much issues.

When selecting you best anchor, pick Toggle bolt design which could hold up to 50 pounds of weight. This way, you will be able to secure your item without the risk of it falling down.

NOTE : you should also ask yourself: “What is the maximum load bearing capacity of my wall?”

Can a screw be longer than the anchor?

Yes. In most cases, the screw is longer than the anchor because it goes into a stud or joist in the wall, but if you’re using an expanding anchor, the screw only needs to go far enough to expand the metal wings.

Is drywall stronger in one direction?

No.  Drywall is a gypsum material that’s plastered on a mesh backing.It needs to be strong in all directions to hold up the weight of a shelf or handrail.