Fixing to plasterboard

Attaching things to plasterboard requires special fixings to keep the plaster from ripping or cracking.

The first thing to know about hanging anything on a plaster wall is that you can’t use ordinary wall plugs. Wall plugs expand as you screw into them, and plaster is quite soft. If you drill a hole and pop a regular wall plug into it, the plug will expand as you put a screw into it, and this will open up the hole. The slightly larger hole will not hold up the screw and the plug, and the fixing will work loose. To fix anything from picture frames to radiators onto plasterboard walls, use one of the following fixings, made especially for plasterboard.

Level of difficulty

Level 1: Easy

The steps to follow

Heavy duty plasterboard fixings

Heavy duty fixings are those that can take massive amounts of weight without harming the plasterboard. There are several brands to choose from, including Redidrivas and Grip It. The strongest of these fixings can support up to 180kg of weight. Most of these are installed in basically the same way.

  1. Mark on the board where you need the fixings to be
  2. Where you marked, drill a hole the size of the fixing into the plasterboard. With the Redidrivas fixing, you need only to drill a hole to make sure you are not placing the fixing on a stud. The fixing has a point at the back that will help you simply knock it into the plaster, but doing this on a stud will break the Redidrivas fixing
  3. Place the fixing in the hole, and gently tap it into place with a hammer, following the directions on the package
  4. On the front of the Grip It fixing, there are two screw heads. Use a screwdriver to turn the heads. This causes the metal arms at the back to swing out. Turning the screws about 120 degrees should lock the fitting into place.
  5. Once all the fittings are secured, mount your television, kitchen cupboard, water heater or other heavy item to them

A plastic or nylon toggle

These fixings are brilliant in their simplicity. This fitting is surprisingly strong, though it shouldn’t be used for very heavy items. It will usually hold these, but they can cause the fixing to tilt, loosening the fixing’s hold. Instead, use these for shelf brackets, which both pull on the wall and push down on the fixing.

  1. Start by drilling a hole for the toggle. The size of the hole is determined by the size of the toggle, so check the packaging for instructions
  2. Hammer the toggle flat, and insert it into the hole
  3. Place a screw in the toggle. As you screw it in, the screw pulls the back of the toggle up against the back of the wall
  4. Once you’ve got all the fixings in place, you can hang up your item

Hollow wall anchor

Like the toggles, hollow wall anchors aren’t ideal for very heavy items. They are very good for things that pull away from the wall, like shelves. Attach the top of the item to the wall with these fixings, and they will spread the pulling force out so that the plaster isn’t damaged.

  1. Drill a hole in the plaster, using the instructions to determine the size of the hole you will need
  2. Push the anchor in the hole, and insert a screw
  3. The screw pulls the anchor up against the back of the wall as you screw it

The spring toggle

The spring toggle, also called the butterfly fixing and the gravity toggle, works very similarly to the hollow wall anchor and the plastic toggle. Just as with those other fixings, you should not use them with very heavy items, but they will work nicely with most mid-weight things.

  1. Drill a hole in the plaster
  2. Push the flat toggle into the hole
  3. Screw the toggle until the back is braced against the wall
  4. Hang up your item

Light weight fixings

Most lightweight fixings are incredibly easy to install, making them perfect for hanging picture frames and other lightweight items. Hammer-in fixings are simply hammered in, hence the name. Plastic plasterboard plugs are inserted into pre-drilled holes. You can then slip a nail into either of these fixings, and hang your item up.


Please note that all our DIY guides and ‘Expert answers’ advice have been written strictly for reference only. Rated People do not accept any liability for any damage caused to an individual, property or anything else as a result of following our DIY guides and using our ‘Expert answers’ advice.

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