Lag bolts are some of the most rigid fasteners out there and are known for their ability to secure heavy loads. While they can be helpful in many home improvement projects, it’s essential to note the type of material you’re drilling into.
Lag bolts will not hold in drywall alone. In order to secure heavy items to your wall, you’ll need to find a stud to drive it through. If you are not able to find a stud, wall anchors are a useful alternative.
The rest of this article will go into further detail about lag bolts and their common uses. I’ll also discuss how to use lag bolts properly in drywall, how much weight drywall can hold, and other hardware options for securing wall hangings in drywall.
What Are Lag Bolts?
Lag bolts (also called lag screws) are popularly used in construction and are designed to fasten large pieces of wood together and bear substantial loads. You can easily recognize a lag bolt by its considerable size, typically about 1” long (2.54 cm) and ¼” (0.64 cm) thick.
These screws have a hex head and are usually made of steel. The course, sharp treading doesn’t encompass the entire screw, making it adjustable. Lag bolts can withstand immense stress and support heavy loads for long periods of time.
Common Uses of Lag Bolts
There are many uses in construction for lag bolts, as well as in the home.
Here are some examples of woodworking projects that might use these screws for fastening lumber together:
- Retaining Walls
- Playground Equipment
Lag bolts are the go-to when it comes to strength, safety, and structural support for large projects.
They’re most commonly used in construction; however, they do have their uses in the home.
Using Lag Bolts In Drywall
We often see lag bolts used for securing heavy items like television mounts inside the home.
In this case, the lag bolt would need to go directly into the stud, as the drywall alone would fail under the weight of the mount.
Finding the Stud
In order to effectively use lag bolts in drywall, you must first find the stud.
Studs are a series of 2 x 4-inch (5.08 x 10.16-centimeter) supporting pieces of lumber behind the drywall, typically spaced about 16 to 24 inches (40.64 to 60.96 cm) apart.
You can locate a stud by using a standard stud finder. Don’t have one? Don’t worry! You can locate a stud by knocking on the wall and listening for the “hollowness.”
Once you find a place without that hollow sound, you’ve found the stud!
I recommend this Craftsman Stud Finder (available on Amazon.com) because it’s easy to use, shock-resistant, and water-resistant. Simply find the stud and mark the wall with a pencil as a reference point.
If you want to learn how to use a stud finder, check out this video:
Drilling the Pilot Hole
Before you can drill the lag bolt into the stud, you’ll need to pre-drill a pilot hole all the way through where the bolt will go.
The hole should be made with a drill bit of a slightly smaller size than the bolt you’ll be using.
Once the pilot hole is ready, you can drive the lag bolt in using a power drill or a ratchet.
How Much Weight Can Drywall Hold?
Drywall can hold as much as 100 lbs (45.46 kg) of weight if you locate the stud. On its own, drywall cannot hold very much weight at all. It’s made of compressed gypsum, which is a soft, sulfite mineral that crumbles easily.
If finding the stud is out of the question, there are a number of anchors available to use that can help you hang pictures and keepsakes of a lighter weight.
Anchors: Another Option for Drywall
Drywall anchors come in many shapes and sizes and can provide support for those hanging pieces that don’t warrant a stud finder.
The anchor uses pressure to support the hanging item, preventing the drywall from crumbling under the weight.
There are four different types of drywall anchors:
- Threaded anchors (holds 25-75 lbs or 11.34-34.02 kg)
- Expansion anchors (holds 5-25 lbs or 2.27-11.34 kg)
- Molly bolts (holds 25-55 lbs or 11.34-24.95 kg)
- Toggle bolts: metal holds up to 100 lbs (45.36 kg) and plastic holds up to 20 lbs (9.07 kg)
When choosing an anchor, be sure to check the weight limit on the package.
The weight limit of the anchor should exactly meet or exceed the weight of the item you’re hanging.
Drywall is excellent for creating clean lines and smooth walls in your home, but it’s not exactly reliable when it comes to holding up a shelf of grandma’s prized books or your brand new flat-screen TV.
Using a lag bolt directly in the drywall would result in a crumbling mess.
However, if you utilize the studs, lag bolts can provide robust and secure support for all of your home-decorating needs.
If you find yourself needing to hang up your favorite painting in an area where no stud can be found, anchors can be an excellent option for some extra support.
Cheers, tools owners!
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