Can You Use Drywall Anchors on a Ceiling?

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You may have been using drywall anchors to hang things on your wall. But have you wondered if you can also use them on your ceiling? But you certainly do not want them to cause any accidents at home.

In this post, I’ll dive into the ins and outs of using drywall ceiling anchors safely.

Hanging Fixtures on Your Drywall Ceiling: 2 Ways

Method #1: Hanging Using a Ceiling Joist

One of the easiest methods I’ve come across doesn’t even involve drywall anchors. Instead, you will attach it directly to the ceiling joist or beam. 

I advise you use this method if you will hang heavy objects because the ceiling joist can fully support the weight. However, it could be challenging to locate the joist because you cannot see through the ceiling. 

But there are tools that you can use to find the ceiling joist, such as the stud finder. This tool can help you find the ceiling joist by placing it flat on the wall and moving it around. It will flash the light when it finally detects the joist behind the ceiling. 

grey ceiling joist

Another simple tool that you can use at home is a small earth magnet. The good side of using earth magnet is it is cheaper and readily available. Also, it is easier to use. 

It will simply stick to the stud screw, which is the center of a joist. Therefore, you are certain that you will drill in the right spot. 

But, a little tip from my own trial and error: maintain a gap of an inch or two from the magnet when drilling, so you avoid hitting the stud screw. Start drilling a hole where you will insert the screw. Remember to keep the hole smaller than the screw so that the screw will not slide out.

For your reference, check these articles: 

Method #2: Hanging Using Drywall Anchors

Another way of hanging objects on your ceiling is by using drywall anchors. Using drywall anchors is helpful, especially when hanging an object on a particular spot without a joist or beam. 

drywall anchors

Using drywall anchors on your ceiling is beneficial. Aside from being safer and having a strong grip compared to nails or screws, they will not damage your ceiling. 

Recommended Drywall Anchors for Ceilings

There are many types of drywall anchors that you can use on the ceiling depending on the weight of the objects you will hang. 

Typically, the manufacturers specify the maximum weight that the drywall anchor can hold. However, as you will use them on the ceiling, the rule of thumb is to set only a third of the indicated maximum weight limit. 

Therefore, if the manufacturer’s indicated maximum weight the drywall anchor can hold is 100 lbs (45.36kg), then the maximum weight of the object should be 33.33 lbs (15.12kg) only. This will ensure that the drywall anchor can safely hold the object from the ceiling.

testing drywall anchor

Below are the guidelines you can follow to determine what type of drywall anchor is more appropriate. 

For Lightweight Objects

If you’d like to hang light objects on the ceiling, such as small plants, chimes, or baby carousels, you can use plastic drywall anchor, which is cheaper and can buy in bulk. You can also use the small steel drywall anchors, which are a bit more expensive but sturdier. 

This type of drywall anchor is easy to use. You will just drill a hole in your ceiling and insert the anchor into it. Pull the anchor upwards, and it will expand. Put the object and attach the screw. 

And just a heads-up from my time using these: they can reliably hold items weighing up to about 10lb (or roughly 4.5kg). So, they’re perfect for those lighter decorative touches.

For Heavy Objects

If the object you will hang is heavier than 10lb (4.5kg), then you will need a sturdier and stronger drywall anchor to support the weight.

installing drywall anchor

The toggle bolt anchor is my go-to for heavier objects. It is designed to distribute the weight evenly, thus holding heavier objects safely. 

The strongest type of toggle bolt anchor has a mechanism like a spring. It looks like a screw with two vertical wings. 

These wings should be pressed down parallel to the screw while you drill a hole in the ceiling so that the wings can pass through. Once they pass through the hole, the wings will snap back so that you can attach the screw to the drywall.

This mechanism can hold heavier objects without the risk of falling off.

For Big Objects

For bigger objects that you need to hang on the ceiling, such as ladders, hammocks, and bike racks, you will need to attach them directly to the ceiling joist to support the heavy weight fully. 

plant hanged on ceiling

You will need more sophisticated equipment and hardware to install them. But all the fasteners and hooks you will need are usually included in the package. 

Types of Drywall Anchors

It is important to determine the type of drywall anchor which best support the weight of the object you want to hang. Below are the three most common types of drywall anchors.

Self-drilling Drywall Anchors

This type of drywall anchor has sharp threads and drill bits to easily pass-through walls without the help of tools and equipment. Therefore, it is commonly used for DIY projects.

Ideally, it can hold objects that weigh 25 lbs (11.34kg) to 75 lbs (34.02kg), depending on the anchor’s size. Therefore, you can use it to hang heavy objects as well. 

The downside of using this type of anchor is they tend to expand due to drilling and hitting, so they are not reusable. Also, in my experience, they are not powerful enough to hold objects for long.

Toggle Bolt Drywall Anchor

This is one of the strongest types of anchors out there. It has a half an inch thick toggle bolt that can support heavier objects from 100 lbs (45.36 kg) to 105 lbs (47.63kg). 

toggle bolt drywall anchor

I stand by this as a recommended choice for home-fix projects such as attaching roof gutters, ceiling fans, window blinds, shelves, cabinets, and more.

Expansion Drywall Anchors

This type of anchor is also popular for DIYers because they are durable, flexible, and easy to use. However, they can only support lightweight objects. Also, they tend to expand and can no longer be reused.

To install it, determine the spot where you want to hang the object and punch holes. You can use a hammer or just press the anchors into the holes, then fasten the screws using a screwdriver.

The Benefits of Utilizing Drywall Anchors

Easy and Quick Installation

Installing drywall anchors is easy, and you do not need special tools and equipment.

drywall anchor and drill

When you buy the drywall anchors, all you will need to install them is already included in the package.

Safer to Install

Drywall anchors can safely hold heavy objects from the ceiling. However, it is important to follow the weight limit set by the manufacturer to ensure that the drywall anchor can support the object’s weight.


Hanging objects using drywall anchors can add aesthetic value to your home. Drywall anchors offer the distinct advantage of preserving aesthetics by ensuring a seamless and visually pleasing result.

By securely fastening objects such as artwork, mirrors, or shelves to drywall, these anchors eliminate the need for unsightly nails or screws that can damage the delicate surface.

Factors to Consider in Finding the Right Drywall Anchors


When choosing a drywall anchor, consider the materials they are made of and their durability. Some drywall anchors, like plastic expansion drywall anchors, are cheaper but cannot hold objects for long and are not reusable.

The Objects’ Weight

To ensure safety and durability, it is important to consider the object’s weight before deciding what type of drywall anchor you will use. Trust me, it’s essential for both safety and longevity. 

picture frames hanged on a wall

Installation Surface

The type of drywall anchor you will use also depends on the surface you will attach them to. Some drywall anchors, like the self-drilling anchors, may not pass through a thick and hard wall. 

The Drawbacks of Utilizing Drywall Anchors

Limited Installation Points

The structural integrity of the drywall affects the integrity of the anchor installation. If drywall does not have enough edge support, it compromises the anchor’s stability.

Not as Stable as Screwing in a Stud

Although drywall anchors can hold objects, they are not as steady as screwing a stud. A stud is stronger, so it is a more secure option.

Lacks Adhesive

Some drywall anchors cannot hold objects for long, and the objects may fall off eventually, especially if you use drywall anchors made of plastic materials [1].

Installing a Drywall Anchor in 3 Steps

Materials Needed: screw, hammer or rubber mallet, drill, and a screwdriver.

Step #1: Start Drilling the Holes

Ensure that the hole is smaller than the anchor so that the screw will not slide out.

drilling on drywall

Step #2: Widen the Anchors

Use a hammer or mallet to tap the anchor. The width depends on the type of anchor you will use, such as the following:

Step #3: Install and Strengthen the Fixture

Slowly insert the screw and tighten it using the screwdriver. Ensure that the anchor is steady and sturdy.

My Top Picks for a Drywall Anchor

1. TOGGLER SnapToggle Drywall Anchor with Included Bolts

I’ve got to give a shoutout to the this toggle bolt anchor for hanging those hefty items on the ceiling. What I like the most about it is that you can easily unscrew it and mount it to another place, unlike other anchors that are not reusable. 

2. Glarks 42-Piece 6 Size Heavy Duty Zinc Plated Steel Molly Bolt

For those diving into projects involving hollow block walls, tile, or plaster, I’ve had some great success with this. Beyond just those surfaces, I’ve found it works wonders for setting up curtain rods and power switches. 

3. KURUI #8 Self-Drilling Drywall Anchors

I recommend this drywall anchor for DIYers because it is easy to use and does not require installation tools and equipment. No pre-drilling is required. You can screw it directly into the wall or on your ceiling. 


Can I use drywall anchors on wood studs?

It is not recommended to use drywall anchors on wood studs. Rather, drill directly into the drywall’s thickness. It will be much stronger if you screw wood directly into the stud.

How do drywall anchors differ from toggle bolts?

Toggle bolts are a type of drywall anchor. Unlike other types of drywall anchors, toggle bolts need a larger hole for their spring-loaded section. 


Using drywall anchors has many advantages if you choose the appropriate type for your project. Before buying drywall anchors, you should consider the weight of the objects and the wall where you will attach them. 

Hopefully, I was able to guide you on how to use the drywall ceiling anchors safely. If you follow these guidelines, there is nothing to worry about. 

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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