I would like to know what the weight limit for molly bolts for my particular application that I plan on inserting into the wall. The image below is of my project. I plan to install shelving on the wall to hold quite a few books and some decorative objects. In the photo I have evenly spaced double slotted shelf standards that lay flush against the wall. I started from the right-hand side and measured 16" and planned to keep that measurement from right to left the same. Unfortunately when I got to the third vertical standard from the right I could not find a stud. I'm guessing they jumped from 16" to 24". Needless to say, I was very annoyed with this. For aesthetic purposes I want to keep the spacing between the brackets consistent. It's part of my design.

So my question is. If I use molly bolts to attach the remaining three vertical wall standards to the wall, how much weight can they hold? Each vertical standard has a total of seven holes to insert a screw (or, in my case, a molly bolt). I read that a molly bolt in drywall alone can hold 50lb. Would that mean that each wall standard can hold up to 350lb from top to bottom along that one standard? I'm inclined not to believe that. I don't plan on putting that much weight on my shelves but I know that the weight of books can add up. To give you an idea we have a total of medium sized books. We want to do clusters of twenty to twenty five evenly placed around the shelves with a few decorative pieces here and there. The shelves themselves will be 82" across placed on the brackets from left to right.

An image of my project:

enter image description here

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    My thinking is the more expensive the object, the more I want to anchor to studs. I would not trust drywall itself to hold more weight than one anchor. It is basically chalk held together with paper.
    – crip659
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 11:22
  • I wouldn't worry so much about consistent rail spacing. These aren't the most beautiful shelves in the world, no offense, and they'll be covered in books and stuff. I would find a stud in the general vicinity of the right hand end of the shelving, regardless of its spacing from the others, I'd use thicker shelves, and then most of the intermediate rails would be redundant. –
    – jay613
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 11:26
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    I think what's more likely than just randomly switching from 16 to 24 OC studs is just a shift in the stud positioning to avoid some obstacle in the wall.
    – jay613
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 11:28
  • I would have less concern if they were sitting on the floor for some support of the weight, but total weight on just drywall would a big no-no for me. At least have the two ends anchored to studs.
    – crip659
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 12:07
  • 'I'm guessing [the studs] jumped from 16" to 24".' Why guess? Get a stud finder and check. Then attach your uprights to the studs. Some unevenly spaced uprights partially hidden by books will look better than a heap of books on the floor covered in broken drywall. (I installed a wall full of skirting board to ceiling bookshelves (fully loaded) supported by uprights attached to the studs. They've stayed up for several years.)
    – Graham Nye
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


Molly Bolts are great and easy to use.

Toggle bolts are better, and can hold 2 to 3 times more (up to 150 pounds each) than Molly Bolts.


Toggle bolts are also independent of the plaster wall thickness, while you have to choose the right Molly for plaster wall thickness.

The length of the neck on the Molly must be equal to your wall thickness.


Toggle bolts also come in different sizes (wing span) weight dependent.

  • 1
    @ Ruskes - Thank you for that. It appears we're on the same page. Looks like I meant to say toggle bolts. Those are the ones with the metal flaps that flare out into the backside of the wall when pushed through a hole. I just get the terms mixed up and when doing an online search they toss in images of both molly and toggle bolts together which makes it confusing to remember which one is which. Thank you!
    – Adrien
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 16:34

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