Applications for Toggle Bolts
Sometimes referred to as “butterfly anchors,” the term “toggle bolts” describes fasteners used for hanging objects on hollow wall systems, like plaster and drywall. This type of fastener is commonly used to hang items from ceilings, such as plants and mobiles.
A toggle bolt wall anchor has spring-loaded wings that open inside the hollow wall, which enables it to brace against the wall and hold the fastener securely in place. The fastener’s wings, which are much larger than the actual bolt, spread the weight of the (fastened) item over a larger area. This increases the weight the bolt can secure, compared to a regular bolt.
Toggle bolts should not be used to hang dynamic objects, such as ceiling fans that require securement to structural components. Although the correct toggle body might support the excessive weight through the ceiling, the ceiling will probably pull away from the ceiling joists.
Sizing Toggle Bolts
The length of the lag screw is critical for ensuring that the shield can expand properly. To find a lag screw with sufficient length, consider the depth of embedment of the shield, the thickness of the material being fastened and the space required for any washers.
A toggle bolt wall anchor can be very strong. A slender toggle bolt can hold 30 pounds easily on 1/2" drywall. A 3/8" toggle can safely manage a weight of over 50 lbs. The key to using toggle bolts is to ensure that the wallboard is strong enough to handle the weight. In most cases, the wallboard will fail before the toggle bolt does.
Diameters for toggle bolts include:
•1/8” •3/16” •¼” •5/16” •3/8” •½”
Tips for Installing Toggle Bolts
To keep the plaster from cracking, use two pieces of painter’s tape to mark the spot where you intend to drill. The drill bit must have a size slightly larger than the butterfly wings on the toggle bolt. For example, use a 3/8" drill bit to create the hole for a 1/8" toggle and a 1 1/4" bit for a 1/2” toggle. Drill through the tape and the wall. Then, carefully withdraw the drill bit straight out of the hole and remove the tape.
Put the fastener onto the toggle bolt, then thread the butterfly wings onto the bolt. Squeeze the butterfly and pass it through the hole until it opens. Tighten the bolts by hand and finish tightening with a screwdriver. Do not over-tighten the bolt or you will risk damaging the plaster or drywall.
Next, push the bolt through the item you’re fastening to the wall. Thread the toggle bolt far enough that it extends through the body of the toggle enough to prevent the toggle from turning sideways. This allows it to open properly in the wall.
Now, you can raise the object into position. Push the toggles through the pre-drilled holes until you hear or feel the toggles open. Finally, pull back on the object or the bolt and keeping doing so as you tighten the bolt in place.