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Wall Anchor Types & Selection Guide

Revised: 8/5/19
Grainger Editorial Staff

Without the right wall anchor, no structure can be safely held together. Choosing the right fastener requires examining the entire construction to identify the proper anchoring needs. That includes details like raw material usage, weight and other important specifics. Wall anchors are used for a variety of purposes, from construction projects to home improvements. There are many different types of fasteners, and their uses vary depending on three main factors: load/weight capabilities, environmental conditions and base material. Here’s the kind of criteria you need to look out for when choosing a wall anchor.

Base Material for the Wall Anchor

What type of material are you anchoring to? There are many different types of materials anchors can be embedded into, but the most commonly used ones are drywall, plaster/tile, concrete, block and brick. Here’s a little bit more about these materials and their common uses:

Base material Description Used for Specifics
Drywall Low density material is formed between two sheets of heavy paper, also known as wallboard Commonly used for covering studded walls and ceilings in both residential and co Most common thickness are ," 1/2," and 5/8"
Plaster/Tile A mixture of gypsum, water and sand Usually spread over metal lath, wood lath or a gypsum board substrate and is typically applied on existent walls Requires pre-drilling before installing any type of anchor
Concrete Mixture of cement, sand, water and aggregate Commonly used in home foundations, floors and ceilings of elevated buildings Similar to brick in choosing fastener style
Block Mixture of cement, water and aggregate Commonly used in homes and commercial buildings for exterior walls Comes in hollow or solid wall styles but hollow form requires special anchoring products to provide reliable load values despite empty cavities
Brick Rectangular-shaped piece of clay used with mortar Used for building exterior walls and other permanent structures Available in hard or soft form or solid or hollow core

Load/Weight Capabilities of the Wall Anchor

When trying to choose the right wall anchor type for the job, consider the project load and load conditions. Remember to keep in mind the total item(s) weight and forces that will be applied, as well. For example, will your structure be holding things up once installed? Consider the extra weight that needs to be accommodated for the construction and the repetitive forces applied to the fixture itself when in use. Although each anchor type has its own weight capabilities, fasteners typically fall into three categories: heavy duty, medium duty and light duty.

Be sure to consider the maximum allowable load in addition to the load capability. This number is calculated based on the application of a safety factor to the average ultimate shear and tension loads obtained from laboratory testing. The number should be available on your anchor’s packaging.

Environmental Conditions for Anchor Placement

The conditions where your wall anchor is fastened can have an effect. The environment in which it’s installed can play a role. Different environments yield certain exposures like chemicals or temperatures. Anchor materials and coatings are designed to protect against certain conditions. For example, outside-use wall anchors are made with a coating for corrosion and temperature protection. It’s important to use the appropriate anchor based on the environment in which it will be installed to protect against unwanted systemic failures.

Types of Wall Anchors

Like any other tool or accessory, wall anchors are designed to serve specific functions. Finding the appropriate fastener for your structure requires the understanding of the different types. Here are some of the most commonly used anchors and their functions:

  • Wedge anchors: fasten fixtures to solid base material like concrete
  • Hollow wall anchors: lighter duty application, used to securely anchor items to brick, concrete and drywall
  • Wallboard anchors: self-drilling anchor designed threaded rod, rebar and smooth dowels in an assortment of base materials to be used for a variety of fixtures in drywall
  • Adhesive anchors: high-strength adhesive ideal for anchoring in an assortment of base materials in a wide range of weather conditions
  • Drop-in anchors: preassembled with an internal expansion plug for use in concrete
  • Hammer-drive pin anchors: provides a permanent, tamper-proof installation in concrete, block or brick
  • Sleeve anchors: fasten steel, aluminum, wood panels, doors, framing and shelving to concrete
  • Stud anchors: used to anchor pipe run supports, blowers, pumps and support racks
  • Expansion shield anchors: designed to embed items into concrete and other masonry materials with high-load applications (also known as lag shields)
  • Spring anchors: secures extension springs while managing weight loads
  • Screwbolt anchors: confidently secures to wood, concrete and masonry components
  • Toggle anchors: heavy-duty hollow wall anchor that can be easily adjusted to accommodate wall thickness

There are plenty of different wall anchor types. By taking into consideration base material, load capabilities, environmental conditions and overall use and function, you can choose the right fastener for the task at hand.


The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.


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