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Screws vs Anchors

Screws and anchors–a match made in drywall heaven. And maybe a match you don’t know a lot about! We asked our friend Katie, founder and lead handy-person at Handyma’am, to share their top tips and professional tricks for using screws and explain the difference between screws and anchors.

Screw vs Anchor

“A screw is designed to pull two surfaces together. It should be used when you’re building something or attaching two surfaces together,” Katie says. 

While “an anchor should be used anytime you’re mounting something to drywall. Drywall alone isn’t designed to hold weight without some help from an anchor or stud.” There are few different types of anchors, but they all work by screwing into and expanding behind drywall to provide a secure, structurally supportive place to hang or mount something.

When to Use One or the Other

You don’t always need an anchor to use a screw, say if you’re screwing directly into a stud), but you’ll always need a screw to use an anchor.

Katie says, “you should always use an anchor when you’re installing something on drywall. If you’re hanging artwork or photos, a picture hanger and a nail will do the trick. Just make sure to use one with the appropriate weight capabilities.”

Types of Anchors

Plug anchors

Perfect for smaller items and decorative shelves. They usually require drilling a small pilot hole. The packaging should tell you which size to drill bit to use

Available to purchase at Lowe’s

Self drilling anchors

These are great if you want to avoid a pilot hole, but they leave behind a larger hole than plug anchors.

Available to purchase at Lowe’s

Toggle bolts

Also known as strap toggles. These should be used for larger items like bookshelves or securing large pieces of furniture to the wall. 

Available to purchase at Lowe’s

Molly bolts

Excellent for things like TVs or heavy duty shelves.

Available to purchase at Lowe’s

Types of Screws


Produced in a number of specialized threads and a variety of heads. Most will have a non-threaded part at the top so two pieces of wood can join together smoothly.  

Available to purchase at Lowe’s


Deep threads that extend fully along the shank help drywall screws stay secure over the years. Do not require pilot holes. 

Available to purchase at Lowe’s

Eye bolt

The screw end of this fastener attaches to a structure while the eye end allows you to thread rope, chains, cables, and other pulley systems. This provides structure and stability for easy pushing, pulling, and any other hoisting maneuvers. 

Available to purchase at Lowe’s

Framing screw

A speciality screw that has a broad, flat head and short shank. They can be used with a wide range of materials, from wood decking to sheet metal, cement fiberboard to composite wood. 

Available to purchase at Lowe’s


Crafted with a super sharp tip that functions as a drill bit (which means you don’t need to create a pilot hole). They’re great when you want to work fast and are best for metal and wood. 

Available to purchase at Lowe’s


Used for joining wood/composite wood boards together, usually for decks or other outdoor roofless structures. 

Available to purchase at Lowe’s

Hex cap

A six-sided bolt with a perforated head and washer face. Mostly used on professional construction sites for building structures like bridges and roads.

Available to purchase at Lowe’s

Tips & Tricks

Know your walls

“The most common issue I see is with folks not knowing what their wall is made of. Most anchors are designed for drywall. If you have brick or plaster walls, I recommend consulting a professional before attempting to install anchors or screws.”

Katie’s favorite?

“I swear by Duopower anchors. They are plug style but expand in different ways so they can do the job of self drilling, plug and even some toggle bolts. They are a staple in my toolbag and can be used on almost any wall.”

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