How To Install Hollow Wall Anchors

There is no lack of options for securing objects to drywall when you can’t anchor directly to a stud. Threaded drywall anchors, for example, work great for medium and lightweight objects like picture frames. And, when you need to hang something more weighty, toggle bolts are unbeatable.

If you have thin drywall or need to mount something to a hollow core doors, however, these solutions are untenable. There simply isn’t enough material to hold on to and that spot will inevitably fail, causing damage to your wall or door. In this scenario, a hollow wall anchor is your best bet.

Not only do these anchors expand when you tighten them, they have an integrated flat washer with teeth to help spread the weight out a bit and bite directly into the material. As such, they are uniquely suited for affixing things to thin material.

These anchors are permanent, and, when installed correctly, are very capable. Without leveraging the right technique and tools, however, things can easily go awry. In this guide, I will teach you how to install hollow wall anchors effectively by taking you through an actual installation.

Tools And Equipment

How To Install Hollow Wall Anchors Tools

You will need a few tools to successfully install hollow wall anchors – most of which you probably have already. If you do have to get new tools, I always recommend getting the best tools you can possibly afford. High-quality tools make installation easy and when you consider possible damage or replacement costs, they are often cheaper in the long run.

Tool List

  • Hollow Wall Anchors
  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Drill Bit

I write a lot about tools and other useful equipment on this site. If you’re in the market, then it’s worth checking out the Tools Archive. It’s packed full of update reviews, first looks, and how-tos. For example, this guide on screwdrivers covers absolutely everything you need to know before you buy.

Step 1: Measure and Mark

How To Install Hollow Wall Anchors Measure And Mark

The first step is determining exactly where we will be be installing our hollow wall anchor. Simply use your tape measure, make sure everything is level, and mark your spot with a pencil.

For this project I am installing a small wall hook rack on the back of closet door. I want it to be exactly centered on the door so I will measure the total width (36″), divide that number in half (18″), and make a mark with my pencil.

Next, I center the wall hook rack on that mark, make sure it is level, and mark the screw holes. This is where I will drill my pilot holes.

Step 2: Drill A Pilot Hole And Insert Anchor

How To Install Hollow Wall Anchors Insert Anchor

Hollow wall anchors require a specific drill bit size and it’s crucial that you get it right. Too small, and you can’t insert the wall anchor. Too, big and it won’t won’t be tight enough to work and the teeth won’t bite into the surface properly. For my application, I am using a 5/16″ bit.

I drill a hole on my previous marks, making sure to be perpendicular to the surface and not drill too deep. Once complete, I insert the anchor into the hole and use my hammer to lightly tap it flush to the door.

Step 3: Hang Your Project And Set The Screw

How To Install Hollow Wall Anchors Set The Screw

Once the anchor is inserted, it’s important to not tighten the screw without something in between it and the anchor. Doing so will cause the it to twist around and the teeth will eat into your wall resulting in a failed installation. Insert the screw through what you are trying to hang first or use another washer as a stop.

For my project, I insert the screws through my wall hook rack, line up them up, and slowly tighten the screw until it becomes difficult to turn. Inside the door, the anchor will expand locking it in place. Finally, double check that everything is secure and you are ready to clean up.


Installing hollow wall anchors is straightforward and they are an excellent solution for affixing objects to thin material like drywall and hollow core doors.

In this guide, I taught you how to install hollow wall anchors manually, which is the simplest and most cost effective way. If you do something like this often or want something a bit quicker, an anchor setting tool is worth the investment. These tools set the anchor in the wall without screwing and offer a very consistent installation. The one from Silverline is an excellent option.