Plastic Drywall Anchors Keep Breaking and Preventing It

To hang a picture frame on your wall in an area without a stud, you must use a drywall anchor.

Without a drywall anchor, the screw will have nothing to grip, and it will eventually pull out of the wall.

Plastic drywall anchors, also known as expansion anchors, are commonly used because they are inexpensive and easy to install.

These plastic drywall anchors work by expanding in the drywall and keeping the screw securely in place.

The most common issue with plastic drywall anchors is their tendency to break, so why does this happen?

A plastic drywall anchor will break if installed incorrectly or if the wrong size screw is used. Accidentally installing a plastic drywall anchor into a stud or other solid material, such as concrete, will also cause it to break because it will be unable to expand when the screw is inserted.

To prevent breaking a plastic drywall anchor, be gentle if you need to hammer the anchor into the wall and ensure you are using the correct size of screw.

To avoid installing the plastic drywall anchor into a stud, use an electronic stud finder.

Read on to learn more about installing plastic drywall anchors and how to use them. 

plastic drywall anchors keep breaking

What Do You Do If Your Wall Anchor Won’t Go In?

There may be times when a wall anchor does not easily go into the wall, which will happen for various reasons.

First, you need to ensure your pilot hole into the drywall is the proper diameter and depth.

As a general rule, the pilot hole needs to be about ⅛” of an inch deeper than the length of the plastic drywall anchor.

This extra depth accounts for the length of the screw protruding from the back of the drywall anchor.

The pilot hole diameter will be slightly smaller than the diameter of the plastic drywall anchor to ensure a snug fit.

Since the pilot hole is a bit smaller than the drywall anchor, you will need to use a rubber mallet to gently tap the anchor until it is flush with the drywall surface.

Next, you will need to check for any wall studs where you are planning to install the drywall anchor.

If there is a stud, plumbing pipe, or other thick obstruction behind the drywall, the plastic anchor will not go into the wall, and it may even break.

Use a screwdriver to set the screw into the drywall anchor once it is flush with the drywall surface.

A regular power drill with a screwdriver attachment may also be used, but you will have to drill very slowly to avoid breaking the plastic drywall anchor.

If you are having difficulty installing a plastic drywall anchor, there is a possibility your wall is made of plaster instead of regular drywall.

Plaster walls are more substantial than drywall, but they are more easily damaged.

Do You Hammer In Plastic Wall Anchors?

After you have drilled the appropriately-sized hole into your drywall, you will insert the plastic wall anchor and push it in with your finger.

The pilot hole is slightly smaller than the diameter of the drywall anchor to ensure a snug fit, so you will need to use a hammer to make the anchor flush with the wall surface.

Gently tap the plastic wall anchor into the pilot hole with a hammer or rubber mallet until it is flush with the drywall surface.

If you accidentally bend the plastic wall anchor, you will need to remove it with a pair of needle-nose pliers and install a new one.

What If The Drywall Anchor Hole Is Too Big?

If the pilot hole is larger than the drywall anchor, the screw will be too loose, likely pulling out of the wall.

You will have to use a different size of drywall anchor and screw to accommodate the larger hole.

Related: What size screw to use for drywall?

To avoid over-drilling the pilot hole for the drywall anchor, be sure to follow the instructions on the drywall anchor packaging.

These instructions include the recommended drill bit size to use with the wall anchors and the correct screw size if they are not included.

Take extra care to drill the pilot hole as straight as possible to ensure a proper fit for the drywall anchor.

Always use a screwdriver to insert the screw, as the force of a regular power drill may cause the plastic wall anchor to break if you are not careful.

How Deep To Drill Pilot Holes for Drywall Anchors

The pilot hole will not be very deep since you are only drilling through your drywall.

As a general rule, you will drill a pilot hole the same length as the drywall anchor plus an extra ⅛” of an inch.

This extra length will account for the screw protruding from the back of the drywall anchor.

Use an electronic stud finder to ensure you are not drilling into a stud.

Installing a plastic drywall anchor with a stud, plumbing pipe, or another solid object will cause the anchor to break.

When Is It Safe To Use a Plastic Anchor in Drywall?

Plastic drywall anchors are typically used to hang lightweight items, such as towel bars, toilet paper holders, small mirrors, or picture frames.

You may need to use more than one plastic drywall anchor for large objects, but it is still important not to exceed the recommended weight limit.

Heavier items such as shelves, decorative cabinets, or televisions need to be hung where there are studs in the wall for extra reinforcement.

Related: Do drywall anchors go into studs?

If the item you are hanging requires more holding strength than the wall anchor can support, the screws will pull away from the wall.

It is also unsafe to use plastic wall anchors to hang heavy items from the ceiling.

Plastic wall anchors do not grip the drywall enough to support any excessive weight hanging from the ceiling.

Alternatively, it’s possible to use self-setting anchors.

Read our article on how to use these self-setting anchors on drywall.

How Much Weight Will Plastic Drywall Anchors Hold?

The recommended amount of weight a plastic drywall anchor can support is printed on the packaging.

A plastic drywall anchor will hold anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds.

Read more about how much weight drywall anchors hold.

Heavier items will require the use of a toggle anchor or molly bolt.

It is best to use at least two plastic wall anchors for every item you hang for additional strength.

Towel bars or heavy curtain rods will always require more than one drywall anchor because of their length and the amount of weight they will be holding.

Very heavy items should always be anchored to a wall stud.

Some items, such as curtain rods, may use plastic drywall anchors in addition to a stronger anchor for extra support.

How To Fix a Loose Drywall Anchor

The only way to fix a loose drywall anchor is to install a larger wall anchor in its place.

Remove the loose plastic wall anchor with a pair of needle-nose pliers so you are able to assess the hole for any damage in the drywall cavity.

If the drywall has crumbled too much to support a slightly larger anchor, you will have to patch the hole and find a new place to hang your item.

Never install a drywall anchor into a wall after it has been patched, as it will never have the strength to support a hanging object properly.

Find a place on the wall at least a few inches away from the patched area to install a new anchor.

You also need to evaluate the weight of the object you are hanging and how much downward force it exerts.

A different type of anchor with more support and weight-bearing capacities, such as a toggle bolt or molly bolt, may be needed.

Threaded drywall anchors work very well at securing kitchen cabinets or bookshelves, although it is recommended to attach heavier objects like these to a wall stud.