How to use toggle bolts | step-by-step installation

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A step-by-step guide on how to use toggle bolts for securely hanging heavy items on walls without studs.

Imagine hanging a gorgeous but heavy photo frame without worrying about it crashing to the floor, leaving a giant hole in the wall.

Sometimes, decorating can be a headache. If the studs don’t line up the way you need for your frame, you could end up with a big mess.

But there’s an easy alternative.

Toggle bolts are incredibly useful for hanging heavy items on walls without studs. These bolts will secure heavy items to drywall without any wall damage. 

In this tutorial, we show you the step-by-step process on how to use toggle bolts and install them properly.

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holding toggle bolt with 2 fingers

What are Toggle Bolts and How Do They Work?

Before we dive into the installation, let’s talk about the basics of toggle bolts

These handy devices come in a package, complete with an anchor and bolt. The packaging will tell you the drill bit size you need and how to install them. 

Toggle bolts work in a fascinating way. The bolt features a spring-loaded toggle attached to the end, which braces against the inside of the drywall after you insert it into a pre-drilled hole.

Choose an anchor size based on the thickness of your wall and the space you need for the toggle bolt to flap open once inserted into the wall. 

For example, if you have both a drywall sheet and plaster that measures an inch thick, a three-inch bolt should work perfectly. But for regular drywall, you can get away with a smaller bolt. 

Preparing for Installation

Before you install the bolts, make sure there are no electrical wires or plumbing behind the drywall where you intend to drill. 

You can also use a stud finder with an electrical stud gauge for these areas. Another way is to drill a small pilot hole to check.

How to Use Toggle Bolts

STEP 1: Prepping the Anchor and Bolt

toggle bolt in 2 pieces

To install, begin by attaching the bolt to the anchor. The side of the anchor that squishes down should face the drywall. A simple way to remember this is to imagine the anchor “eating” the bolt. 

Screw the toggle onto the bolt until you have a depth that will be able to go through the wall and then open.

wall and hand holding toggle bolt showing depth

TIP: Always attach whatever you are trying to install to the bolt before inserting the toggle bolt into the wall. If you don’t do this before, the toggle end will fall behind your wall when you unscrew it, resulting in a lost bolt. Therefore, it’s crucial to attach your item to the bolt before securing it to the wall.

placing the screw into the hanging item where hole needs to be drilled

STEP 2: Drill Your Hole 

Mark the spot where you want to drill. 

Remember to check that there is no plumbing or electrical running behind this area. 

finger showing where wall is marked to drill

Once you’re confident there’s nothing behind the wall, carefully drill a hole in the marked spot using the recommended drill bit size on the packaging.

drilling into wall with drill bit

STEP 3: Insert the Toggle Bolt

Take your prepared toggle bolt, with the toggle closed, and place it into the hole until it goes all the way through. It should open up once it is inside the wall.

placing toggle bolt into spot that has been drilled on the wall

STEP 4: Secure the Toggle Bolt 

To secure the toggle bolt, pull it towards you as you tighten it to prevent it from spinning.

using a screw to placed the hanging item

Continue tightening until it feels secure. 

Now, you’re ready to hang that beautiful work of art!

Megan pulling on togglebolts to show strength


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

And there you have it! That’s how you install toggle bolts. It’s important to remember that they do not go into studs but are designed to securely hang items on hollow walls like drywall. Now you can confidently hang heavy items, knowing they’re secure and well-supported by toggle bolts.

And remember to always ensure your item is attached to the bolt before you secure it to the wall, if needed.

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