How Much Weight Does Drywall Hold? (Find Out Now!)
Considering that drywall is part of a home’s basic structure, we all like to think that it’s a sturdy material. Unfortunately, it’s not always true. We’ve all heard of stories that involve drywall breaking due to a TV installation gone wrong, or maybe a drunken construction project gone awry. If you’re thinking of mounting heavy tools to your drywall, you probably should know how much it can hold…
How much weight you can expect drywall to hold depends on the mounting method, the weight distribution, as well as the type of drywall being used. Most drywall will be able to hold five to 10 pounds without the use of an anchor, but only for a short period of time. If you hang up items via wall studs and anchoring equipment, your drywall will support up to 100 pounds.
If you’re thinking of getting a painting mounted or want to know if you can just hammer that one gizmo to the wall, stop right now. Reading this article will help you determine the best way to avoid breaking your wall…and stuff.
How Much Weight Can Drywall Hold Without a Stud?
Wall studs are the pieces of wood that frame your house and support a large portion of your wall’s structure. When you’re hanging up larger items, it’s best to find a stud to help carry the weight. With that said, there are set ranges on how much weight your drywall can hold without any additional support. Here’s the scoop:
- If you have thin drywall, you should expect it to carry between 1.2 to 1.6 pounds per square foot.
- Heavier, thicker drywall can handle 1.5 to 2.1 pounds per square foot.
- To make sure that your walls don’t get damaged, always distribute the weight you’re hauling evenly.
An Important Note About Hanging Up Pictures And Other Items On Drywall
While the range of weight that you can hang on drywall may seem impressive, it’s important to note that drywall is not meant to hold that kind of weight for long periods of time. You should never try to hang up a large picture frame on multiple nails without reinforcement, simply because it can damage your drywall.
If you’re hanging a larger item, then you will need to distribute the weight across multiple pins, nails, or whatever else you want to use to hang up said item. Trying to put all the weight on one nail won’t work.
How To Enhance The Weight Your Drywall Can Bear
Drywall alone isn’t very good at getting your stuff hung up. Drywall is composed of compressed gypsum on a paper backing and while it’s great for interior walls, the material is not solid.
In order to get the most out of your drywall and hanging ability and increase the weight capacity of your drywall, you will need to use wall anchors and/or nail directly into a wall stud. Let’s talk about this a little bit more.
Finding A Wall Stud
Studs are the wooden parts of your home that help prop up the drywall, it’s the skeleton of your home. Since this drives the nail into wood, you get added support and have better long-term results.
Wood studs are generally placed between 16 and 24 inches apart in the walls. You can try knocking on the wall to find a stud. When you notice a difference in sound, like a hard knock rather than an echo, you’ve found a stud. Or, locate an outlet at the base of your wall, as outlets are always attached to studs. Then, simply go straight up from the outlet and hang the picture.
Of course, you can also purchase a stud finder to, well, find the studs.
Using Wall Anchors
Wall anchors are exactly what they sound like: they are specialized tools that help you hang up a frame and get more staying power. They “anchor’ your nail into the wall deeper and reinforce it.
So, how much weight can drywall with anchors? Here’s how much some of the most popular wall anchors can hold:
- Tap-In Expandable Anchors. These are very common and are best for items under 10 pounds.
- Molly Bolts. These extremely rugged anchors can hold up to 70 pounds when placed on a stud. This, along with butterfly anchors, are best for heavy items like a punching bag.
- Toggle Bolts. Toggle bolts (also known as butterfly anchors) are pretty hard to install, but the payoff is worth it at 50 pounds per bolt for plastic versions. If you get a metal bolt, it can hole up to 100 pounds.
- Self-Drilling Screws. These handy screws can hold up to 30 pounds a pop.
- Plastic Anchors. The second-lightest option on the list, these hold up to 20 pounds per anchor. They’re relatively easy to install.
Although there are different types of drywall anchors, they all operate in a similar manner. When the anchor is screwed in, it expands inside of the wall to create a more secure “anchor point” for hanging.
Note: Adhesive strips are another option for hanging directly on drywall. They are also the easiest to use, as you simply stick them to the wall. Adhesive strips come in many sizes and variations. The larger the size of the strip, the more weight it can typically hold.
How Do You Figure Out How Many Wall Anchors You Need?
Even distribution is important when it comes to supporting a ton of weight. To figure out the minimum number of anchors, weigh the item you’re installing or mounting, then divide it by the maximum weight that the anchors can carry. Larger items may require one to two (or more) anchors on the bottom, plus a stabilizing anchor on the top.
How To Use A Typical Wall Anchor
Wall anchors aren’t like nails. With nails, you only have to hammer them in. Wall anchors tend to be more involved. Here’s what you need to do when you install a wall anchor:
- Grab a drill and the drill bit of your choice. You want the drill bit you use to be smaller than the size of the anchor that you are using. Any larger and you won’t be able to anchor your anchor.
- Drill a hole where you want the anchor to be. We suggest a stud area, because it’s better for your wall stability and will be able to support more weight. You can never be too careful.
- Insert the anchor until it’s perfectly even with the wall. If it’s being stubborn, use a hammer.
- Then, screw the anchor in. Leave at least a quarter-inch of screw-free, jutting out of the wall. This is where you will be able to hang up your items.
Please note that some wall anchors will have slightly different instructions than this. If you aren’t sure how to use a particular anchor, don’t be afraid to search up individualized instructions. That’s what the internet is there or.
What Wall Anchors Should You Use?
Wall anchors are not a “one size fits all” type of deal. If you use the wrong anchor for your project, it might end up harming your drywall. To get the right wall anchor, you need to know the drywall thickness you have. If you don’t know how thick your drywall is, it’s best to assume that it’s either 3/8 inch thick or 1/2 inch thick.
Not all anchors will be compatible with your drywall thickness. To find out if an anchor is usable, check the package to see if it’s been graded for your wall thickness. Most anchors will have an approved drywall thickness range that they are good for written on the packaging. They also might offer insight into how much you can expect to have them carry, but that’s not really mandatory.
Important Notes About Determining Your Drywall Thickness
If you’re a stickler for accuracy and want to get the best possible results, knowing the thickness of your drywall can help. Here are some tips on how you can figure it out:
- Most homes have drywall that’s 1/2 inch thick. It’s usually a safe bet to get a package of anchors that are designed for a 1/2 inch thick drywall as part of their range.
- If you live in a condominium, you might be able to find out the drywall thickness by contacting the homeowner’s association that
- The more space between studs, the thicker the drywall. Studs two feet apart have a drywall thickness of 5/8 inch. Studs placed at 16 inches can be 1/2 inch to 3/8 inch thick.
- Sometimes, listening to the noise levels in your home can help you determine an approximate thickness. After all, if the walls sound paper-thin, the drywall probably won’t be more than 1/2 inch thick. There’s a reason why people mention thin walls, you know.
Can I screw directly into drywall to hang a picture?
In short, no. A screw that is driven directly into drywall will not hold permanently. Sooner or later, the screw will pull right back out of the drywall. Even if the screw may feel like it’s secure, hanging a picture on it will pull it out even easier – especially if the picture is heavy.Instead, if you still want to use a screw to hang a picture, make sure that you drive it into a wood stud. You can also use metal or self-drilling plastic wall anchors.
What is the strongest drywall anchor?
In terms of weight capacity, steel hollow-wall anchors can hold the most weight. They have a drywall anchors weight limit of up to 100 pounds. Though, toggle bolts are another viable option, as they can support up to 50 pounds.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.
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