Most internal walls in New Zealand homes are hollow. This simple statement is of no particular interest until you want to fix ‘something’ to the wall. Then away most folk go tapping the wall with fingers and wise looks upon their faces trying to find a stud or noggin (pieces of wood that the plasterboard is nailed to) so that whatever they want to fix to that wall will be held by a screw or nail fixed to the wood. Why not use a hollow wall anchor? So many people I know will say that they have tried and failed, that the screw and plug always comes out. On investigation, I often find that what they term and use as a hollow wall anchor is, in fact, a plastic plug that is made for solid brick or concrete walls.
Hollow wall anchors are available in a variety of different types, and we will look at a couple of these shortly, however, they are basically the same in that they penetrate the plasterboard and then expand so that they form an anchor on the inside of the board.
Arguably the most common hollow wall anchor is the Spring Toggle. These are simply thin machine screws with a pair of spring load ‘wings’ that are held closed whist being pushed through a hole in the wall and then when through, will spring open and form an anchor. Spring toggles form a good strong method of fixing items to plasterboard and other hollow walls. A major disadvantage is that once the spring-loaded ‘wing’ is inside the cavity you cannot remove it, in fact, if you unscrew the machine screw the wings will fall off and drop down inside the hollow wall.
A similar unit is the gravity toggle which instead of having spring loaded wings on the end of the machine screw has a half round hollow tube-like toggle. This toggle, when inserted in the wall, will drop down and grip the inside of the plasterboard. The same problem as with the spring load toggle in that once in, it stays in!
Plastic hollow wall anchors are very good to use when you need to fix an item to the wall and then remove and replace any number of times. These plugs are pushed into a hole that you have pre-drilled in the hollow wall and then a screw (size will be noted in the instructions) is screwed into the toggle. The action of working the screw into the plastic anchor will spread the sides of the plug inside the hollow wall which as the screw gets tighter will grip into the wall. The screw can then be removed if required and the plug will be available to be used again when necessary.
There are many types of hollow wall anchors available today far more than I could tell you about in this column. My advice is to pop down to your local hardware store and have a look at the range and choose the one you feel most comfortable with and of course if you need help ask. Just remember to use hollow wall anchors for hollow walls and wall plugs for solid walls.
Standard Plastic Toggle
As I said there are many, many varieties! Ask at your local hardware store for advice.
By Chris Bennett,
Click here to see Chris’ Q&A page.