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How much weight can you mount to a wall?

I've only recently moved beyond yellow wall plugs and into a different style of self taping plug that's rated to significantly higher weights. These plugs advertise 80 lbs of pull out / 120 lbs of down ward pull through.

What kind of weight can the dry wall withstand before it fails? I'm looking at regular household application, so standard width sheets apply (since I'm sure the width will affect this answer).

I sort of wondered this on the metal, butterfly style plugs but at least they seemed to distribute the load on a larger section of the drywall.

In response to some of the questions, assume 16" on center, say 1/2" or 5/8" sheets. My specific application is hanging shelving (screw down strip/track, 5 screws per strip about 12-18" each apart, strips mounted 30" apart, lock in 8" hanger style arms) which I have done many times before. I'm not looking to push the envelope on how much I can get away with, I'm trying to ascertain whether the drywall would fail before the plugs would, for a better practical knowledge.

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    What are you mounting? Aside from a clock or photo frame, I'd never trust sheetrock alone to anything heavier.
    – DA01
    Sep 5, 2011 at 19:43
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    If you're at all worried about it throw a cleat at the bottom (secured to studs). Sep 6, 2011 at 2:41
  • This question has been asked before many times, try searching for drywall. 943, 5958, 7085, 6725.
    – Tester101
    Sep 6, 2011 at 12:14
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    @Tester101 Fair enough comment, but I felt I was coming at this from a different angle. Presuming you bought the highest rated plugs (something absurd like 120 lbs pull out per plug) and mounted with 10 of them (5 on each side) it is OF COURSE silly to think you could put a 1200lb static load on 1/2" drywall. My guess is that the sheet of drywall would separate from the studs and catastrophically fail. That's more of the intuition I was looking for as opposed to the can I hang 50lbs off my drywall? Of course I can, should I? Probably not. Have I done it a million times? Sure. TV? No.
    – Stephen
    Sep 6, 2011 at 12:37

2 Answers 2


I really don't have an exact answer to the amount of weight 1/2 inch rock will hold, but practically speaking, I would not exceed more that 30 or 40 pounds per 30 inch shelf using screw type anchors. I use the screw in anchors all the time with great results, far better than the drill and tap in type. I would encourage you to try to mount the support rails to a stud, even it only on one side or center. Shelves mounted to the studs would be so much safer.


How much the drywall will withstand will depend largely upon its thickness. 1/8" drywall is pretty flimsy while 7/8" can take quite a tug.

If you're talking any more than just a few pounds, then seriously I wouldn't rely on drywall anchors - if necessary cut out some drywall and install a backer board.

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    It also depends on stud spacing: with 24" spacing, the drywall won't be able to support the same load as 16" spacing. To an extent, how it's joined could play a factor. For example, if it was put up using only nails, it's going to tear off the wall at much less load than if done using screws every 12".
    – gregmac
    Sep 5, 2011 at 21:17
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    So based on 1/2" sheets screwed in, 16" on center, what sort of failure load would you estimate?
    – Stephen
    Sep 6, 2011 at 2:20
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    Best way to find out - take one of your drywall anchors, install it properly, leave the screw partially out so you can grab it with pliers, and give it a good long hard pull. Look - drywall is nothing more than basically plaster (gypsum) sandwiched between two pieces of paper. It's a finish surface, it's breakable by hand, you can punch through it with a moderate punch, and if it ever gets wet you can poke a finger through it like a hot knife through butter. DO NOT TRUST DRYWALL FOR ANYTHING HEAVY YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO REPLACE CAUSE IT FELL AND BROKE. Sep 6, 2011 at 10:43

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