Is it safe to hang a 39lb projector screen from a drywall ceiling without using the joists? I'm having a debate with someone over how we should hang a projector from the ceiling. I want to place screws into the framing, however the joists are off center from the wall and would either require chains or that the projector screen just be off center. The person I'm debating with wants to use a steel toggle bolt anchor or some other method of hanging a heavy item in drywall without a joist.

  • Depending on who in the ceiling industry (Corning) or gypsum manufactures (USG) you talk with a drywall ceiling will vary from 1.4-2.8psf load support. The lower being on a older nailed ceiling and the higher on newer construction. Of course if you have an insulated ceiling you need to subtract 0.5.-1.5psf based on how much and type insulation is used. Sep 22, 2016 at 15:02
  • Are you able to add an intermediate joist to the ceiling joists? I needed to mount something between joists in the manner you describe and was able to access the area via the attic. Cutting lumber for a snug fit, screwed in from the sides for optimum strength and positioned exactly where needed was the solution for me.
    – fred_dot_u
    Sep 25, 2016 at 12:51

4 Answers 4


40 pounds dangling from a toggle bolt going through 1/2 inch of drywall? I don't want to sit under it. Don't forget it's not just the toggle bolts, it's also the screws holding the drywall up, and they are not meant to hold anything heavier than drywall.

However, you don't need chains, and it doesn't need to be off-center.

Get yourself some steel angle with slots in them - look in the shelving section, not the raw materials section. Search for "slotted angle shelving" to get an idea of what you are looking for. Buy something long enough to span several of the ceiling joists, not just 2. They are available in a wide variety of sizes and finishes ranging from warehouse grey to polished chrome.

slotted angle

Attach 2 across the ceiling joists so that the projector can attach in the ideal position. With suitable anchors into the ceiling they should easily handle hundreds of pounds, assuming the ceiling is also strong enough.

Regarding the ceiling joists (studs are in walls) there are several possibilities:

  • big, solid pieces of wood like a 2x12 (likely in an older house). Several long 1/4 inch lagscrews will be perfect here.
  • manufactured beam (houses made after the mid-1980s, small commercial buildings). Problem as they are not meant to be cut or drilled into - damage the bottom edge and the beam can fail.
  • your "drywall ceiling" is actually a suspended ceiling with no substantial support. Forget the whole idea.
  • your drywall ceiling is applied directly over (under?) concrete. Call someone who knows how and has the right tools. A properly installed mount will hold a car up.
  • 1
    in a suspended ceiling you would need to create a support structure above the ceiling and then drop rods though the drywall that will do the actual supporting. Sep 22, 2016 at 9:46
  • You can buy projector mounts for suspended ceilings. I just installed one. It has a 2' metal bracket that spans between the beams (using them for support) and sits on top of the acoustic tile, then you cut a whole through the tile, and a large threaded cylinder connects the projector mount to the metal plate. There are safety cables on the metal plate that attach to something solid above (in my case, large steel beams that support the floor above).
    – gregmac
    Sep 22, 2016 at 14:13
  • This answer was a huge help for me. I had a friend who used a joist on one side and toggle bolt on the other, but I was very anxious over the potential for the bolt to tear down through the drywall. Installing two "slotted angles" as suggested here was a relief. Apr 28 at 12:55

Absolutely not.

First, the drywall will almost certainly sag over time and leave a permanent bulge. That's if (IF) the drywall doesn't pull off the screws holding it to the ceiling. That is the risk of this scenario--not simply the projector coming down.

Here's how it could play out: You hang the projector, and all seems well. Over time the natural vibration in the home causes the single drywall screw nearest the projector to work through the thin paper top layer of the drywall. Because drywall is flexible, the sheet starts to sag. Now the force is on more screws, but the initial damage is done. If there are only a few nearby screws, the same thing happens there. If you're lucky, this stops movement, but now your projector is hanging on an inverted drywall bubble, bouncing around with every step on the floor above. It's not a pretty situation.

Use a decorative board of some sort to span between joists, and mount the projector to that.


The short answer (with caveats) is yes, you can. If you are not able to reliably answer the below details I wouldn't recommend it.

The full details: Depending on how it's hung, read the specs of the anchors that you plan on using, there are definitely ones that will hold 39lbs in tension from a ceiling (a quick lookup had one with 50lbs, however I know some which do 100lbs+ per), but the assumptions are based on a standard, modern day construction.

To give example (again, packaging details will dictate actual requirements)

  • Structure (joist, furrings) is 16" o/c
  • Drywall is screwed every 12" along the structure
  • Drywall screws are set at least 3/4" in to the structure, screw head not piercing the paper
  • That none tries to hang from it (but then the projector will probably get damaged anyways)

The closer your anchor is to the structure, the lower the requirements are.

Also, this assumes you're only using one anchor, while it's not a linear calculation, four of the above mentioned anchors would easily hold 100lbs. They will usually suggest a safety tolerance as well, so if it says 50lbs, it is generally suggested that the anchor can be used for a 25lb object.

  • What do you mean by o/c? Jan 8, 2022 at 20:00
  • On center, it's relating to the joist/stud spacing, when they're spaced at 16" o/c, the center of the joists are 16" apart (or inside space between them is 14.5", or outside spacing is 17.5")
    – Chris
    Mar 31, 2022 at 23:58

This just seems like a really bad idea, honestly, no matter what the toggle bolts claim they can hold. It would be much better to span the joists with something and tie into that.

Let's be frank, I have a 40 lb dumbbell on the floor here, and I absolutely wouldn't want to hang that from a couple of toggle bolts in a 1/2" thick patty of paper-wrapped, compressed chalk powder and let anyone I care about sit under it.

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