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I've always had the question of how much weight can a single screw into a drywall withstand?

For instance, I would like to do things like this:

Hanging piece of furniture

It's hanged with 5 screws. The whole thing weights approximately 50kg (110 pounds) so we can say that each screw stands approximately 10kg (22 pounds).

The person who installed it said it was fine, but is it really?

Do somebody know a study or some numbers regarding how much weight this material can stand?

EDIT: Just to clarify, it's not screwed to studs. It's screwed to the drywall.

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Thats probably screwed into studs not just the drywall. – Craig Aug 4 '10 at 16:13
The probability that at least most of the screws are hitting studs is 100%. Otherwise there would be a pile on the floor and 5 little holes in the wall. – JD Long Aug 4 '10 at 17:04
I wouldn't recommend it, but I'd bet they could.. My wife once hung a huge mirror on the wall (3x6 with a thick wood frame, weighed about 70 lbs) with two fasteners. Never had a problem with it. – Eric Petroelje Aug 4 '10 at 17:24
It's not screwed to studs. – Gastón Aug 4 '10 at 18:20
that xbox might overheat in such a small space – dotjoe Nov 5 '12 at 20:50

10 Answers 10

up vote 16 down vote accepted

There are several kinds of drywall anchors and they each have their own weight rating. Some work by drilling a small hole and tapping in a plastic sleeve and others work by drilling a bigger hole and screwing a plastic sleeve and there are others where you drill a hole and the metal butterfly expands behind the drywall know as molly bolts (thanks comments!). Recently I saw anchors where you drill a 1 inch hole in the drywall and this big contraption grips the inside of the drywall (wish I could remember the name). Anyway, each of the big drywall anchors could hold over 50 pounds!

The positive response got me to go dig for those contraptions. Turns out they are made by Moen and they're called SecureMount. I have the Moen SMA3000 and they really are just a bigger version of toggle bolts (spring loaded metal wings that fold and have a long machine screw).

I also found this useful link that has pictures and describes all the types mentioned (except the SecureMount of course . . . those are new and very much a niche product).

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Using the right type of wall anchor is important. – msemack Aug 4 '10 at 17:42
Nice, this was something that I was looking for. The person that installed it told me that he used five molly bolts (I think those are the ones you were mentioning). I don't think he used the bigger ones, but those withstand 50lb each, so a smaller one should withstand the 22lb from the entertaining center. – Gastón Aug 4 '10 at 18:32
Just because there are 5 anchors, doesn't mean the weight is distributed evenly across them. It's good for a rough estimate, but you should definitely plan in a safety factor above the anchors' rated load capacity. – Doresoom Aug 4 '10 at 18:38
Those contraptions are called Toggle Bolts or sometimes called Molly bolts (although mollys are a slightly different type of drywall insert). – kkeilman Aug 4 '10 at 18:58
Now imagine that someone sits on the shelf right next to the XBox. What happens to the 5 screws and their anchors? Nothing, you say? What about a kid who runs around and smashes against it? Are you willing to bet the cost of the TV+receiver+shelf on the strengths of the anchor? How about betting the limbs of the kid on the strength of the anchor? Is it that much to spend $20 on the stud finder and $5 on 5 lag screws and drive them through the studs??? – Rom Aug 4 '10 at 21:33

It's always better to attach it to studs - which should certainly be possible with something that big. That said though, you might be surprised how much a drywall anchor can hold.

How well they work depends on the load though. They will work best with a static downward load - a fixed weight close to the wall pulling directly downward.

They will work much worse with loads that pull down and outward (like a shelf) or dynamic loads where the weight changes regularly causing the fastener to loosen up. Something like a toilet paper holder represents the worst of both worlds - it sticks out from the wall with the weight at the end, and you produce a dynamic load on it whenever you pull on the TP roll.

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Great resource, Eric! – Doresoom Aug 4 '10 at 20:36

For hanging something that wide, you'll have at least a few studs behind it to anchor to. So it's not a matter of how much weight the drywall can hold. Anything heavy like a floating entertainment center should definitely be screwed into studs. I'd have to disagree with Rom though that a toilet paper holder needs a stud. Something light like that should be fine as long as you use drywall anchors rather than regular screws.

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I agree that it should be screwed to the studs, but this entertaining center isn't. – Gastón Aug 4 '10 at 18:22
If you have children, even a TP-holder needs studs. Trust me. – Wayne Werner Aug 4 '10 at 18:25
@Wayne - Good point, I hadn't thought of that. Children old enough to use tp aren't in my future for the next 7 years or so though...hopefully. :) – Doresoom Aug 4 '10 at 18:40
The irony is that it wasn't my children doing that (yet) - it was us as children (: – Wayne Werner Aug 4 '10 at 18:56
Well, say it to my TP holder. And we don't have destructive kids at home. Every time you use the holder (and especially every time you change the roll) you put a stress on the anchor. It's a small stress, but a stress nevertheless. It crumples the drywall just a bit, every time. Most likely you wouldn't pull the TP holder in 1 year, nor in 5. But in 10 or 20 you will, trust me, or better yet go visit some old houses. – Rom Aug 4 '10 at 21:37

If you go to the British Gypsum website (the UK leading dry lining manufacturer) you can download a PDF called the 'white book', this covers everything dry lined related and is what contractors have to work to to comply with tested systems etc. I'm going from memory, but I recall that with a standard 12mm dry lining using typical rule plugs you can hang 5kg per fixing, this increases to 7kg for 15mm. These figures are low but allow worst case for a cantilever type load. Clearly hitting the stud is the thing to do as so much more robust. Hope that helps

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You can do things like this without relying on drywall only to support it. Find studs in the wall (buy a studfinder) and screw into them.

While I don't know exactly how much one can hang on a screw in the drywall, I wouldn't hang anything on it. Drywall is an extremely brittle material. This means that even if something hangs on it just fine, a small shock (for example of a closing door) can spread cracks from around the tension points (screws). This means that with time the shelf will either drift down under its own weight, or most likely will fall off. In short: don't do it. I wouldn't hang a toilet paper holder just on the drywall.

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+1 for the toilet paper holder reference. I have a toilet paper holder that has one side in a stud and the other just in the drywall. The side in the drywall used to be tight but now (after use) is very loose and probably going to rip off soon. – Jeff Widmer Aug 4 '10 at 16:21
Maybe for 1/4 inch drywall, but 1/2 inch drywall is pretty strong. Of course you need to use drywall anchors to support any decent amount of weight. – dotjoe Aug 4 '10 at 17:36
That may have more to do with the quality of the wall anchors that were used. Those little plastic things are often inadequate, especially for something that gets handled a lot (like a toilet paper holder). – msemack Aug 4 '10 at 17:40

Personally I wouldn't risk it. I found a company called Grip It Fixings and bought their Type 25-2 and secured my Samsung 50 inch TV with four fixings each with a maximum load of 180 kg.

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As everyone else has indicated, it is not as simple as throwing out a single weight or weight range and having it be a universal truth.

Keep in mind, the major manufacturers are constantly trying to improve their products while they trim costs of production. In a perfect scenario, you get a product that not only performs beyond your needs, but leaves some money in your pocket.

Most manufacturers will provide all the information you could want about their products. USG for example has a fantastic form that should allow you to get a good idea of what features you need to look for and what sizes of materials you should use. (This is NOT an endorsement of USG specifically. I don't own stock, nor do I sell their product. I'm simply pointing out a decent example of the information available.)

Simplest answer in the free world: put your screws in studs whenever possible, and when you use anchors, don't buy cheap.

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Always hit studs when you can. If this hit a few studs it will not have a problem at all. Where you have to anchor to drywall, use toggle bolts if heavy, if something like a picture and frame, use a plastic anchor.

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It depends upon the type of drywall anchor (as noted in other answers). It also depends upon the thickness of the drywall itself. Typical drywall thickness for walls is 3/8"; ceilings are usually 1/2". There is also 5/8" drywall which is generally for very large sheets on ceilings. In certain industrial applications, two (2) 1/2" sheets are used everywhere.

It will also depend upon the spacing between studs (ie: 12" stud spacing will support a heavier load than 24" spaced studs, all other factors being equal).

And of course, this doesn't begin to talk about concrete backer-board and other specialized wall materials.

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Here is the link, as mentioned previously, to the British Gypsum website.

I am from the UK, so it's very useful for me - but you can convert to Imperial.

I have found it incredibly useful for putting my mind at rest regarding how much my plasterboard can hold. I now have three shelves up with home heavy books and they are not going anywhere!


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