How To Remove Drywall Anchors (2 Real Options)
Author: Omar Alonso | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
We've all used them for the most part, but what we don't usually know is how to remove drywall anchors. Drywall anchors are the tools you need when hanging pictures or small appliances. These small pieces keep the frames attached or anchored to the wall so they don’t fall off.
What Is Drywall?
Many homes are made of drywall, also called Sheetrock, plasterboard, or wallboard. Drywall is made of soft material, which is fine when hanging something light; however, it becomes problematic if you want to hang something heavier, like a picture frame or shelf.
What are Drywall Anchors?
You don’t need a drywall anchor if you use the stud. Before buying drywall anchors, buy a stud finder. Studs are sturdy pieces of wood used to frame the wall. A stud finder will let you know where the studs are so you can hang your items without a drywall anchor and screw them directly into the wood. Once you locate one stud center, you should find the next one 16" from there. That's the standard stud spacing.
By using wood instead of drywall, your item will be more secure. You’ll need drywall anchors if where you want to hang your item isn’t on a stud. How much weight drywall can hold increases drastically by using anchors.
The drywall anchor lets you put a screw in the wall without damaging the drywall once weight is applied. All drywall anchors grip the drywall to prevent your item from falling. The type of anchor you’ll need depends on the size and weight of what you’re hanging.
Types of Drywall Anchors
There are four popular types of drywall anchors: plastic sleeve anchors, self-drilling threaded anchors, molly bolts, and toggle bolt anchors. There are other types but you aren't likely to be using them. The way each is constructed will determine how to remove an anchor from a wall, so please consider their builds as you read.
Plastic Sleeve Anchors
Plastic sleeve drywall anchors resemble a jacket for your screw and are typically packaged with screws. Drill a hole into the wall - make sure the hole is smaller than the anchor’s diameter. Lightly hammer the anchor into the hole and insert the screw.
The drywall anchor expands inside the wall as the screw is inserted. It’s best to use plastic sleeve anchors for items less than 10 pounds, like a picture frame.
Self-drilling drywall anchors resemble screws and, due to their design, can be inserted into the wall without pre-drilling. Take the anchor and screw it into the wall. Then insert the screw. This drywall anchor is best for items weighing 10-25 pounds.
Molly Bolt Anchors
Molly bolt anchors, also called steel hollow-wall anchors, expand as they’re inserted into the wall. They favor a screw wrapped in a metal jacket. Drill a hole into the wall, gently hammer the anchor into the wall, and inset the screw until secure.
It’s best to use molly bolt drywall anchors for 25-50 pounds but up to 100 pounds. Imagine a towel bar or a coat rack where items will weigh more when wet.
Toggle Bolt Anchors
Toggle bolt drywall anchors are metal anchors with spring-loaded sturdy anchors or toggles on end. Drill a hole into the wall and insert the toggle bolt drywall anchor, then tighten the screw.. The toggle will go to the opposite side of the wall.
Toggle bolt anchors are strong and can hold up to 350 pounds. When using these, knowing how to remove wall anchors is a piece of cake. You unscrew them and let the toggle fall behind the drywall and you're done, besides patching the hole.
How To Remove Drywall Anchors
After you’ve hung your frames and time has passed, you’ve decided to take down the pictures and remove the drywall anchors. And now you need to know how to remove drywall anchors without damaging your specific types of drywall. Two simple methods are the pull-it-out method and the push-it-in method.
To start, you’ll need to gather your materials. The list is all-inclusive; depending on your anchor, you may not need all the materials. Gather your needle nose pliers, hammer, screwdriver, utility knife, and sandpaper to remove plastic drywall anchors.
Gather the same items for plastic drywall anchor removal and protective goggles, drill, and cutting wheel to remove metal drywall anchors. You’ll need a dry rag, putty knife, spackling drywall compound, putty knife, and detail paintbrush to finish the project once you remove the drywall anchors.
Method 1: Remove it From the Drywall
The pull-it-out the drywall method is less likely to damage the wall and can be used with plastic sleeve anchors. Most people want to know how to get an anchor out of the wall, not hide the fact that it's still there. So first, remove any screws inserted in the drywall anchor and gather your supplies. Now, you can get started.
Step 1: Lift the Anchor
Using the putty or utility knife, slide it underneath the outer edge of the anchor. Apply light pressure, using the knife as a lever to lift the anchor away from the wall's surface. Use medium-grit sandpaper on the knife’s edge to keep it from slipping.
Step 2: Pull Out the Anchor
Once the anchor’s head or collar has been lifted or raised off the wall, you can begin to wiggle it out. Take your needle nose pliers and grab the outer edge of the anchor’s collar. To prevent scratching or gouging the wall, keep the pliers from touching the wall as much as possible.
Get a firm grip on the pliers, and wiggle the anchor back and forth. If the anchor isn’t moving and seems to be embedded, stop. Wiggling it could cause more damage. If this is the case your drywall anchor has screw threads and removing drywall anchors like these requires unscrewing them, which is quite easy.
Step 3: Screw Out the Anchor
If your drywall anchor is a self-drilling anchor or a plastic sleeve anchor embedded in the wall and wiggling doesn’t seem to be working, try your screwdriver. Pick a screwdriver that fits snugly in the anchor and tap it with a hammer to ensure a good grip. With a bit of pressure, twist the screwdriver counter-clockwise, and unscrew the anchor from the wall.
Get your drill ready if your drywall anchor is a molly bolt anchor or a toggle bolt, get your drill ready. Using the drill, retract the molly bolt about halfway, then gently tap the bolt with your hammer until it's flushed with the wall; this will loosen the barrel and reduce the anchor's grip on the wall. Now you should be able to use the needle-nose pliers and pull the molly bolt drywall anchor from the wall.
For toggle bolt drywall anchors, use your drill to unscrew the bolt. Pull on the bolt with your needle-nose pliers. The toggle part will not come back through the wall; however, it will fall between the space behind the wall and between the studs. The bolts are typically reusable, but you’ll need a new toggle piece.
Method 2: Push the Anchor Into the Drywall
Can drywall anchors be removed? Not all of them. You’ve tried the pull-it-out the drywall method yet noticed either the anchor won’t turn or will turn and won’t back out.
Or do you have brittle walls and fear damaging them by pulling the drywall anchors out? No worries, this method is for you. Remove any screws inserted in the wall anchor and gather your supplies.
Step 1: Cut the Collar
When removing a plastic sleeve drywall anchor, push your utility knife underneath the collar of the anchor, so the knife is flush with the wall. Then slowly, in a sawing action, rock back and forth to cut off the anchor’s collar. Once it breaks off, throw the collar away. Take your hammer and gently tap your screwdriver into the anchor. Keep tapping until the anchor goes through the wall and falls out.
Step 2: Use a Cutting Wheel
You’ll need to use a cutting wheel for metal drywall anchors. Start by putting on your safety goggles and attaching a 1-inch cutting wheel to your drill. Then cut off the head of your drywall anchor. Use your drill or utility knife to score or cut around the drywall. Align your screwdriver, use one wider than your anchor’s mouth, and gently tap it with your hammer until the anchor goes through the wall and falls out the backside.
Step 3: Recess the Anchor
When the walls are brittle or damaged, forcing a drywall anchor out of the wall by either pulling it out or pushing it in could cause more damage. Therefore, instead of using your screwdriver and hammer to tap the anchor through the wall, gently tap it until it sinks into the drywall.
Patching the Drywall
Once the drywall anchor has been removed or recessed into the wall, you can patch the wall. If the hole is large enough, you'll want to apply a drywall repair patch to rebuild the surface over the hole.
Step 1: Flatten the Edges
Take your hammer and gently tap around the hole to flatten the edges. Wipe off the excess dust using a dry rag.
Step 2: Fill the Hole
Using your putty knife, fill in the holes with the drywall spackling compound. To ensure the putty is flush with the wall, draw an “X” over the spot you’re working with the knife and remove any excess compound. Then let the drywall compound dry overnight.
Step 3: Sand for a Complete Finish
Once the wall is dry, use your medium-grit sandpaper to sand the putty and gently wipe it with the dry rag. Finally, touch up the paint by using a detailed paintbrush. Attempting to rebuild any modern drywall textures will be difficult but possible, though the hole should be small enough to not need to if you don't damage the other parts of the texture as you sand.
That’s How to Remove Drywall Anchors
Drywall anchors are used to hang items on drywall securely. Removing drywall anchors depends on the type of anchor used and the wall’s stability. The answer to how to remove drywall anchors is you can use either the pull-it-out method or the push-it-in method. Whichever way you choose, you’ll need to patch the wall afterward to complete the project. And that's how to take out wall anchors.