When you want to hang something on the wall, it can be a hassle to find a stud to hang from. Or maybe you know where your studs are, but they’re too far from where you need to put your hanger. So how much weight can drywall hold without a stud?
A cheap wall anchor can only hold about 20 pounds. But there are tricks to get additional strength and still position your decoration or your furniture where you want it.
How much weight drywall can hold with a wall anchor
With a cheap plastic wall anchor, like the ones most products include in the box, drywall can hold about 20 pounds. You can go to the hardware store and get rougher, tougher wall anchors that can hold 35 pounds. The heaviest duty ones will claim to hold 60 pounds.
Keep in mind that’s hanging weight. If you’re trying to keep furniture from tipping, a wall anchor can still pull out with less force than the rated weight. To keep something heavy from tipping, it’s really best to anchor to a stud.
Doubling up to get more strength
Nothing says you can’t use two anchors to get more strength. Better yet, you can use a combination of anchors and a stud. The stud does most of the work, while the anchor in the drywall helps hold it straight and in the right position.
To do this, mark the position you want on the wall. Then find the nearest stud and mark the stud’s position. Measure the distance between the stud and the position you want. Now go on the other side and mark the same distance. That’s the point for your anchor. Drive in an anchor, then drive a screw into the stud, and now you’ve got something that can hold 100 pounds without difficulty.
Don’t use an anchor in the stud. The threads just shred the anchor and the anchor keeps the threads from gripping into the lumber. The strength comes from the metal threads.
What length screws to use with drywall
Longer screws are generally better, but the last thing you want to do is drive a screw into a wire or a pipe in the wall. Drywall is usually half an inch thick. Wires and pipes are supposed to be centered in the stud. Since a stud is 1.5 inches wide, you have about 3/4 inch to work with from the stud, plus the width of the drywall. So you don’t want to drive more than 1.25 inches into the wall. You’ll leave about a quarter inch protruding to hang from, so anywhere from a 1.25 to a 1.5-inch screw is ideal.