What Items Do You Need Drywall Anchors for in Your First Apartment?

If you’re lucky enough to have a landlord who lets you drill holes in the walls, there are a variety of ways to decorate your first apartment by hanging things up. Even if you’re just renting, it’s still important to take care of the walls, so the best practice is to use drywall anchors to help support any items you hang. Which items need drywall anchors? Read on below to find out.

What types of drywall anchors are there?

Before hanging anything with a drywall anchor, you’ll need to decide which type of anchor you want to use. There are three primary types of drywall anchors: simple anchors, self-drilling anchors, and toggle bolts.


It’s always best to use drywall anchors when hanging shelving, even if you don’t anticipate storing anything too heavy on the shelves. If you decide to reorganize later or leave the shelves intact for a future tenant, a heavy item placed on a shelf without drywall anchors can pull the shelf down and damage the wall.

When hanging shelving, the type of drywall anchor you should use will depend on how much weight you anticipate the shelf holding. For small shelves that won’t be able to hold more than 20 lbs, you can use a simple plastic anchor. For 20 to 100 lbs on your shelf, use a simple steel anchor instead. Finally, for large heavy-duty shelves that need to hold more than 100 lbs, use a toggle bolt.

Pictures and mirrors

For most pictures and mirrors, especially those with a heavy frame, you’ll want to use a plastic anchor to secure your screw into the wall. This is especially important if you’re hanging the item with only one screw, as it’s difficult for one small spot in the drywall to stay strong enough to hold a heavy item.


One often-underlooked way to spice up your first apartment walls is to add light fixtures such as string lights or mounted wall lights. Most mounted wall lights should use a drywall anchor, but string lights will often be fine without them. If you choose not to use drywall anchors when hanging string lights, be sure to hang more screws or nails than you would otherwise to spread out the weight.

When can I get away with not using a drywall anchor?

While drywall anchors are a useful tool when hanging things in your first apartment, they aren’t necessary for every situation. For some items and circumstances, using a drywall anchor can be more work than it’s worth for the task.

You don’t need to use a drywall anchor if there’s a stud located directly behind where you want to hang something. Studs are typically placed every 16 to 24 inches, so find an electrical outlet, which will usually be attached to a stud, and measure from there. When you tap on the wall in front of a stud, the wall should feel solid instead of hollow.

You also don’t need to use drywall anchors for some very lightweight items. If you’re hanging small picture frames or decorations that barely weigh anything, you’ll usually be okay with just a small nail and no anchor.

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