How to Install Toggle Bolts

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Toggle bolts are the strongest way to anchor heavy items to a hollow wall; see how to install toggle bolts the easy way. 

Sometimes you need to attach something to a wall but you cannot find a stud in the right location to hold it into place. 

And driving a screw directly into drywall will not hold anything because drywall is loose and will crumble from the weight.

What do you do? Give up on the whole project?

Certainly not! 

In this case, you can install a toggle bolt. This is a type of wall anchor, and maybe one of the strongest anchors there is. 

toggle bolts in package

We discovered these when we were installing an industrial shelf in our bathroom. I have also included a video at the bottom of this post, so go ahead and watch that if you want to see how to do it first hand.

What are toggle bolts?

Toggle bolts are a heavy-duty drywall anchor used where you cannot drive a screw into a stud. 

They consist of two parts: a bolt and a toggle (a butterfly-shaped nut). 

How do toggle bolts work?

A toggle bolt works by anchoring to the back of the drywall, so that the entire sheet of drywall resists the force on the bolt. There are two types of toggle bolts: one that is a wing style and another is a strap style. In this tutorial, we are discussing the wing style.

The toggle (butterfly nut) is pinched and inserted into the hollow drywall. Once inside the drywall, it opens up. As the bolt is tightened, the toggle presses against the drywall, causing the bolt to anchor to the drywall. 

The larger the area of the toggle that is in contact with the drywall, the stronger the anchor, which means the more weight it can hold.

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STEP 1: Determine the location

First you will want to mark the location where you want the item you are attaching to the wall.

Since you will be drilling into a wall, make sure that there are no electrical or plumbing where you will be drilling. 

STEP 2: Make the holes

Take a 1/8″ drill bit and drill a hole into the location that you marked earlier.

I do this as a starter hole but also to make sure there is no stud – if there is, you do not need a toggle bolt. 

Then, use a larger drill bit, drill a larger hole in the wall. This bit should be the size of the toggle nut when folded; in my case it was a 9/16″ drill bit.

using drill to drill hole in wall for toggle bolts

STEP 3: Thread the toggle bolt

Next, insert (attach) the toggle bolt to the item you will be using. Then, screw the nut (toggle) onto the other side of the item. Make sure the sprint is going the right way.

toggle bolts added to floor flange pipe

STEP 4: Insert the bolt into the wall

Next, press the spring down and insert the toggle nut into the drilled hole.

Once the toggle is inside the wall, you should hear it spring open.

place toggle bolts into wall holes

STEP 5: Tighten the bolt

Using the screwdriver, tighten the bolt by slightly pulling the item toward you. 

IMPORTANT: You need to pull the bolt toward you, allowing the nut to have something to grip so that the bolt will tighten. As the bolt is tightened, the bolt will pull the item toward the wall and form a strong anchor. 

And that’s how easy it is to install a toggle bolt. Now, you have the freedom to complete any project where you can’t find a stud.


Are you someone who does better with visuals? Check out the full project video below and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube so you don’t miss out on future projects!

 What do you think? Do you have the perfect project to use toggle bolts?

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