How To Screw Into Plasterboard

Whether hanging a picture frame, building shelves, or attempting a project much bigger, there’s one question that people always need answered….

Can you screw directly into plasterboard?

NO! We wouldn’t ever recommend screwing directly into plasterboard. Even if the initial fix feels tight and strong, it won’t end up this way. The substrate is thin and only meant as a lining, and it doesn’t keep its form well when weight is hung onto it without the proper precautions. But what if you have a painting or shelves you wish to put up? How can you screw into plasterboard without causing damage?

Although plasterboard (also commonly known as drywall) isn’t strong enough to hold weight alone, there are a range of cavity wall fixings that can make screwing into plasterboard possible. All of these fixings penetrate the back of the substrate and help widen the surface area that is put under stress by the hanging object. This results in less pressure being experienced by smaller areas of the wall, helping avoid damage or breakage.

There are a number of different styles of plasterboard fixings, here are some of the most popular:

Hollow Wall Anchors

These are bolts that have butterfly-style arms that will expand behind the plasterboard when a screw is tightened into the fixing.

The tightening action from securing the screw forces the arms of the anchor outwards, and pulls them tightly and flush against the back of the wall, spreading any hung weight over all directions rather than one single point affected by gravity. At the same time, the pointed lugs on the front side of the wall are biting into the surface of the plasterboard, creating a secure fixing on both sides of the substrate.

Spring Toggles

Spring toggles feature a collapsible toggle/arms. They are inserted into a pre-drilled hole in the drywall. Once fully pushed through, the toggle bounces back with arms expanding on each side, spreading the weight over a larger area.

Once tightened, they provide a strong and secure fix, but can only be used once, as when the screw is removed, the toggle is likely to fall into the cavity and become irretrievable.

Rosett Cavity Fixings

Rosett fixings work similarly to Wall Anchors, but are far more heavy duty. They can be fitted and removed easily, and do not tend to cause damage to the plasterboard.

Speed Plugs

Speed plugs usually consist of an outer plug and inner screw. The outer plug has a deep outer thread which gives far better grip onto plasterboard than traditional screws. In terms of installation, you would first install the outer plug, and once this is flush with the wall, the inner screw and item to be attached to the plasterboard can be installed.

Rubber Nuts

These are one of the simplest drywall fixings available. They’re a small, cylindrical rubber nut that will fit into your pre-drilled hole. They can take a decent amount of weight, and due to the material, are more resistant to corrosion than other fixings.

Wall Plugs

Wall plugs, also known as rawlplugs after one of the most famous brands, are plastic or nylon plugs. They are used for securing fixings into plasterboard - when a screw is driven into them, the plug will expand, and grip the inside of the pre-drilled hole, ensuring for a tighter and more secure fixing.

Wall plugs are one of the more cost-effective methods for fixing into drywall, so if you're on a budget, they're a great choice!

For more information on our range of plasterboard and cavity fixings, get in touch with our expert team!