What Size Drill Bit for Drywall Anchor?

If you’re looking to hang something heavy like a picture, TV bracket, towel rail, or anything else on your drywall, you’ll need to use drywall anchors or wall plugs to support the weight, since you can’t screw directly into drywall (also known as sheetrock). But what size drill bit do you need for drywall anchors? And what type of drill bit should you use?

In this article, we’ll go over what size drill bit you need for installing drywall anchors or wall plugs, as well as some tips on how to choose the right drywall anchors for your project.

Read on to find out more plus read a detailed guide on how to install your drywall anchors.

What size drill bit do I need for drywall anchors?

To find the right size drill bit, hold the drill bit shank against the anchor body (minus the flange) and select the drill bit that is just slightly smaller.

You can also check the back of the drywall anchor’s packaging as the manufacturer may mention the anchor diameter and choose the drill bit accordingly.

You want the anchor to sit snug inside the hole – not spin or wobble loosely around in the hole.

Start smaller with a pilot hole. You can always drill the next size up if it’s too small. You can never drill a smaller hole though!

Machine Handyman Pick: 3 Best Drill Bits for Drywall Anchor

Image Product Name Specification   Price
SATTDMAIC-Hex-Shank-Drill-Bit-Set Hex Shank Drill Bit Set, 13+1pcs Color: Black/Blue
Dimensions: 1/16″ – 1/4″
HSS Titanium coating
Number Of Pieces: 13 drill bits + 1 quick change adapter
Check Price
backpac DEWALT DW1354 drill bit set Color: Orange
Shank Type: 3-Flat
7.75 x 6.63 x 0.5 inches
Number of pieces:
Check Price
cordlessblower ARROW 160455 Drywall Anchor kit with drill bits Color: Silver
Material: Plastic
Drive System:
Head Style:
1.4 x 5.1 x 7.4 inches
Check Price

Which Drill Bits are Suitable for Drywall Anchors?

You should use a standard drill bit designed for wood and plasterboard/drywall/sheetrock. A drill bit designed for steel or metal will probably work fine too.

Don’t use a drill bit designed for masonry, brick or tile as these will not drill a clean hole in drywall. They can cause the drywall to chip and the hole to be uneven.

Standard Drill bit (top) vs masonry drill bit with hammer head (bottom)
Standard Drill bit (top) vs masonry drill bit with hammer head (bottom)

Different Types of Drywall Anchors

To secure things into drywall or sheetrock, you need an anchor that can support the weight. In this section, we’ll explain the different types of drywall anchors and wall plugs that you can use and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Though there are plenty of types of drywall anchors available out there, the following are some of the most commonly used drywall anchor types:

What is a Molly drywall anchor?

Some DIY enthusiasts call these hollow drywall anchors. This type of drywall anchor is suitable for medium-duty projects and it comes in two different types. The first one is a pointed molly wall anchor, and the other is a non-pointed molly wall anchor.

Molly drywall anchor/bolt (non pointed)

A pointed molly anchor doesn’t require any pilot hole and can be installed easily by tapping using a hammer. But the non-pointed anchor requires a starter hole to dig into the drywall.

This type of hollow wall anchor can hold up to 75 pounds and is ideal for hanging lightweight shelves.

What is a Toggle bolt or butterfly anchor for drywall?

Some DIYers also called it the Butterfly anchor, and it is one of the classic yet strongest types to secure into the drywall. Designed with a metal sleeve, these toggle bolts apply spring-loaded wings to remain secure into the wall. An impressive thing is that this drywall anchor can hold up to 300 pounds.

Toggle bolt / butterfly drywall anchor
Toggle bolt / butterfly drywall anchor

So, if you need to hang a weighty item on the wall and can’t find any stud to secure it into, you will find this toggle bolt a handy option. This type of drywall anchor also has a fast zip bind action to install and remove the anchor easily.

If you are wondering what size drill bits to use for the toggle drywall anchor, simply check its packaging. You will find the suggested hole size.

This drywall anchor can also successfully hold TV brackets and larger shelves.

What is a Plastic Screw drywall Anchor?

If you need to hang lightweight items like a mirror, artwork, wall clock, or small sleeves, use this plastic screw anchor. This type of drywall anchor can hold around 20 pounds. The package of this anchor set also recommends the required hole size.

How to secure a drywall anchor into a too-small and too-big pre-drilled hole?

If you find the pre-drilled hole is too small to secure your desired anchor, increase the hole size. To do so, use the next larger size drill bit and again drill the hole. Drilling a smaller drill to extend its size is quite an easier problem to solve compared to fixing the larger hole.

So, if the pre-drilled hole is too big, it would be better if you bought spackling and sealed the hole. Then choose a new spot to drill. Though you can fix pre-drilled larger holes, the process is quite hard and most suitable for an advanced carpenter. Therefore, filling the larger hole and drilling the new one will be the easiest task. Apart from these, spackling is less expensive and available at both local hardware stores and Amazon.

How to Install Drywall Anchors

Pre-drilling for securing any type of drywall anchor requires a couple of considerations. Firstly, determine where you are going to drill near a stud or into the drywall cavity. Then consider whether the drilling surface is an exterior block wall and there are other obstructions or not.

Typically, your target is to drill through drywall to make the process easier and quicker. But if you need to handle the stud, use an anchor that can drill through wood. Apart from these, make sure the depth of the hole matches the drywall anchor and leave a minimum of 1/8-inch extra to allow you to extend the screw out of the back. After picking the right type of drywall anchor, simply follow these tips to successfully secure it into the drywall:

Pick the right place

As we have mentioned earlier, keep away from the stud if possible and select a comfortable spot. If you need to hang multiple things, then measure the full area and maintain a proper distance to prevent overcrowding. After that, identify the selected spot using a pencil and then take your drill in hand.

Use the right size drill bit

You have to start by drilling a pilot hole. To do so, pick the same diameter drill bit as the drywall anchor. Drilling a pilot hole is always better for any drilling project, including installing drywall anchors. It creates a better holding opportunity for the drywall anchor compared with larger holes, which can be too loose for the anchor to hold. Still if you are nervous, begin drilling with a considerably smaller size bit and keep changing the bit size until you get the exact match.

Prepare the anchor

Using a toggle bolt anchor is more preferable as it can hold more weight. To get a head start, begin threading the toggle bolts before securing them.

Secure the drywall anchor

After creating the hole, firmly press the drywall anchor into the wall. If you use a toggle bolt, you will definitely hear the wings snap into place. But if it is molly anchors or plastic anchors, you have to slide them to fix in place strongly. In case if you find it difficult to secure the plastic anchor, you can gently tap it with a hammer to complete the task. But don’t hit too hard as it can damage the wall along with the plastic anchor.

Attach the Screws

Now you are ready to insert the screws into place. Keep the screw straight and drill slowly to prevent slippage. The screw head should be flush with the head of the anchor.

FAQs What Size Drill Bit for Drywall Anchor

How to select a drill bit for a drywall anchor? 

Choose a same-size drill bit of drywall anchor that is big enough to drill through the wall. Despite using a drill bit that allows securing the anchor easily using the thumb, it doesn’t need much force.

Which is the right size drill bit for a 10mm drywall Anchor Bolt?

An 8.9mm drill bit will be the right option to install a 10mm anchor bolt. But you can also use a 9.1mm drill bit for the desired performance.

Why do the drywall anchors tend to pull out?

It can happen for plenty of reasons, and hanging an overweight item is one of the main reasons. Drywall and the anchor can’t take too much load as they aren’t used to doing so. Thus, putting excessive weight, especially on a single anchor, can lead to the anchor pulling out. Aside from that, inserting the anchor into the thick wall encourages them to pull away.

Final Words

Now that you know, what size drill bit for drywall anchor? So, pick the right drill bit based on your desired type and size of drywall anchor as well as the thickness o the drywall and hang the required shelves, mirror, art frame, or other items successfully.

But make sure you are using a lightweight and compact drill, and a cordless version is preferable as the task demands accuracy over power.

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Sam Morgan is a general contractor based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He does home renovations, extensions, landscaping maintenance, and general handyman jobs for homeowners. He is also the part-time content writer at Machine Handyman and a lifelong tools enthusiast. Sam loves hand tools, power tools, machinery, and DIY gadgets of all shapes and sizes! He is always researching the different types of home improvement tools that will get the best results. This site will cover products like power drills, air compressors, saws, nail guns, screw guns, grinders, cutting tools, and many more.

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