How to Remove Drywall Anchors: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Remove Drywall Anchors: A Step-by-Step Guide


Embarking on DIY home improvement projects requires a knack for handling various tasks, one of which includes the removal of drywall anchors. These components, essential for hanging objects on walls where studs are not present, come in various types, each necessitating a different approach to removal.

This guide aims to equip you with the knowledge and techniques to safely and effectively remove drywall anchors, ensuring a smooth preparation or repair process for your walls.

Main Content

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Discovering Drywall Anchors

Brief Overview

Drywall anchors are used to hang items on walls without studs.

They range from light-duty plastic anchors to heavy-duty toggle bolts.

Importance of Proper Removal

Prevents wall damage.

Essential for redecorating or repairs.

Preparing for Removal

Tools You’ll Need

Screwdriver set.

Pliers or adjustable wrench.

Patching materials for after-removal repairs.

Identifying Anchor Types

Plastic expansion anchors: Light-duty, commonly used.

Threaded anchors: Medium-duty for heavier loads.

Toggle bolts: Heavy-duty for the heaviest items.

Step-by-Step Removal Guide

For Plastic Expansion Anchors

Extracting the Screw

Unscrew and remove using a screwdriver.

Anchor Removal

Pull out directly or push into the wall if stubborn.

For Threaded Drywall Anchors

Unscrewing the Anchor

Turn counterclockwise, treating the anchor like a screw.

Final Pull-Out

Use pliers if necessary to gently remove from the wall.

For Toggle Bolts

Bolt Detachment

Unscrew the bolt to release the toggle.

Toggle Extraction

Push and tilt to remove through the hole.

Post-Removal Wall Repair

Patch and Paint

Apply patching compound, sand when dry, and touch up with paint.


Understanding how to remove different types of drywall anchors properly is a fundamental skill in DIY home improvement. Whether you’re preparing for a fresh paint job, repairing wall damage, or simply rearranging decorations, knowing the correct removal technique is key to avoiding unnecessary wall damage. Following these steps ensures a smooth and successful project from start to finish.

Understanding Drywall Anchors

Drywall anchors are ingenious solutions for hanging objects on walls that, by themselves, might not withstand the weight. These small yet mighty fixtures come in a variety of types, including plastic anchors, metal anchors, toggle bolts, expansion anchors, and threaded anchors, each designed for specific weights and applications.

Grasping the nuances of these different types not only aids in selecting the perfect anchor for your project but also ensures that whatever you hang stays securely in place without damaging your walls.

Diving into Types and Purposes

Varieties of Drywall Anchors

Plastic Anchors: Ideal for light loads, these are simple to install and use friction to hold against the drywall.

Metal Anchors: Offering more strength, metal anchors are suitable for medium-weight applications.

Toggle Bolts: Known for their strength, toggle bolts are your go-to for heavy items, anchoring securely by expanding behind the drywall.

Expansion Anchors: These expand when a screw is inserted, tightly gripping the drywall for a secure hold.

Threaded Anchors: With threads that dig into the drywall, these anchors are versatile for various weights.

Purpose and Application

Support and Stability: The primary role of drywall anchors is to provide a secure point for hanging objects on walls that the weight might otherwise damage.

Preventing Damage: By distributing the weight more evenly across the wall, anchors prevent the dreaded holes and cracks that can come from hanging heavy items directly on drywall.

Safety: Properly choosing and installing the correct type of anchor ensures that heavy objects remain securely fastened, reducing the risk of accidents.

Choosing the Right Anchor

Expansion Anchors: These anchors are best for light to medium loads and are easy to install for DIY enthusiasts.

Toggle Bolts: Their strength makes them ideal for heavy objects, though their installation is more complex and leaves larger holes.

Plastic Anchors: A versatile choice for lighter applications, they’re both simple to use and effective for small hangings.


Understanding the various types of drywall anchors and their intended purposes is crucial when undertaking any project involving hanging objects on drywall. Each anchor type offers different benefits and is suited to particular applications, from light decorative pieces to heavy shelves.

By familiarizing yourself with these options, you can ensure that your decorations and fixtures are securely and safely attached to your walls, maintaining both the integrity of your home and the safety of its inhabitants.

Tools and Materials for the Job

Successfully removing drywall anchors and patching the resultant holes is a straightforward process when you have the right tools and materials at your disposal. This section outlines the essentials needed to ensure the job is done efficiently and with minimal damage to your walls. From the removal of various types of anchors to the finishing touches that leave your wall looking pristine, having these items on hand is key.

Essential Tools for Anchor Removal

Screwdriver or Drill with Screwdriver Bit: These are fundamental for unscrewing and removing anchors. A drill can speed up the process, especially for larger projects.

Needle-nose Pliers: Ideal for gripping and pulling out anchors that protrude slightly from the wall or for removing anchors once they’re loose.

Utility Knife: Useful for cutting away any parts of the anchor that stick out from the wall, making for a cleaner removal and easier patching.

Materials for Patching Holes

Spackling Compound or Joint Compound: These are used to fill the holes left by the anchors, creating a smooth surface.

Putty Knife: Essential for applying and smoothing the spackling or joint compound over the hole.

Sandpaper: Once the patching compound is dry, sandpaper helps smooth the area, ensuring it’s flush with the rest of the wall.

Paint and Paintbrush: Matching paint is used to touch up the patched area, blending it seamlessly with the surrounding wall.

Additional Considerations

Safety Equipment: Gloves and goggles should be considered, especially when cutting or sanding, to protect your hands and eyes.

Matching Paint: Ensure you have a match for your wall’s paint to cover the patched area, making the repair invisible.

Tips for Efficient Removal and Patching

Before starting, clear the area of any furniture and cover the floor with a drop cloth to catch any debris.

When using a drill, set it to a low torque setting to prevent stripping the screw or damaging the wall.

Apply the spackling compound in thin layers, allowing each layer to dry thoroughly before applying the next for the best finish.

Patience during the sanding and painting process will result in a more professional-looking repair.


Equipping yourself with the correct tools and materials is crucial for effectively removing drywall anchors and patching up the aftermath. This not only ensures that the job is done right but also prevents unnecessary damage to your walls.

By following the outlined steps and recommendations, you can achieve a seamless repair that leaves no trace of the previous anchors, readying your wall for its next phase of decoration or repair.

Method 1: Pulling Out Drywall Anchors

Removing drywall anchors by pulling them out is a common method that works well for anchors that are not too deeply embedded or overly tight. The key to this method is using the right tool, such as needle-nose pliers, and applying the correct technique to avoid damaging your wall.

Here’s how to do it step by step.

Tools Needed

Needle-nose pliers: Essential for gripping the anchor firmly.

Optional: Lubricant and a small backing board for stubborn anchors.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Prepare Your Workspace

Clear the area around the anchor to prevent any obstruction during removal.

Place a small backing board against the wall surrounding the anchor to distribute pressure and protect the drywall if used.

Grip the Anchor

Open the needle-nose pliers wide enough to grip the head of the drywall anchor firmly.

Ensure you have a secure grasp, but avoid squeezing too hard to prevent crushing the anchor.

Apply Pressure

Gently apply steady pressure while twisting the pliers. The goal is to loosen the anchor without damaging the surrounding drywall.

Pulling the Anchor Out

Once you feel the anchor begin to give, slowly pull it straight out of the wall.

If the anchor is stubborn, apply a gentle rocking motion back and forth to help loosen its grip on the drywall.

If the Anchor Resists

Apply a small amount of lubricant around the base of the anchor to ease its removal.

Continue to wiggle and pull until the anchor comes free gently.

Additional Tips

Preventing Damage: Be careful not to apply excessive force when pulling on the anchor, as this can lead to wall damage.

Stubborn Anchors: For anchors that resist initial efforts, the gentle rocking motion combined with patience can often lead to success.

Post-Removal: Once the anchor is removed, you may find a hole left in the wall. Refer to patching instructions to repair this for a smooth, finished look.


Pulling out drywall anchors using needle-nose pliers is a straightforward and effective method when done carefully. The key is to use steady pressure and gentle motions to avoid wall damage.

This method is suitable for many types of anchors, making it a versatile skill in your DIY toolkit. With patience and the right approach, you can remove drywall anchors cleanly, leaving your walls ready for the next phase of your home improvement project.

Method 2: Backing Out Screw-In Anchors

Screw-in drywall anchors offer strong support for hanging objects but can be a bit tricky to remove without the right technique. Fortunately, with a simple screwdriver and careful application of pressure, these anchors can be backed out of the wall without causing damage.

This method is particularly useful for anchors designed to be removed in this way, ensuring a clean removal process.

Tools Needed

Screwdriver: Choose one that fits the anchor’s screw head snugly to avoid slipping.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Prepare the Area

Ensure the space around the work area is clear to allow for easy movement and to prevent any damage to surrounding objects.

Inserting the Screwdriver

Place the screwdriver into the screw hole of the anchor. It’s essential to use a screwdriver that matches the screw head perfectly to prevent slipping and potential damage.

Applying Pressure and Turning

Apply gentle but steady pressure to the screwdriver. Begin turning it counterclockwise to unscrew the anchor from the wall.

The key is to maintain steady pressure to prevent the anchor from spinning in place, which could enlarge the hole or damage the drywall.

Removing the Screw

Continue to turn the screwdriver until the screw is completely removed from the anchor. This may take several rotations depending on the anchor’s depth.

Extracting the Anchor

Once the screw is out, the anchor itself should be loose enough to pull out of the wall. If it offers resistance, you can lightly wiggle it back and forth while pulling gently to ease it out.

For anchors that do not easily come out, gently twist them counterclockwise with the screwdriver (if possible) or use needle-nose pliers to grip and pull them out.

Additional Tips

Gentle Pressure: It’s crucial to use gentle pressure throughout this process to avoid causing damage to the drywall around the anchor.

Patch and Repair: After removal, you’ll likely have a hole where the anchor was. Use spackling compound, sandpaper, and paint as needed to patch and repair the area for a seamless finish.


Backing out screw-in drywall anchors is a straightforward process that requires patience and the right tools. By carefully using a screwdriver to unscrew the anchor, you can remove it cleanly without damaging your wall. This method provides an effective way to remove anchors, preparing your space for whatever comes next in your home improvement journey.

Remember, the final step of patching and painting ensures that your wall looks as good as new and is ready for new decorations or a fresh coat of paint.

Method 3: Cutting and Hammering Technique

The cutting and hammering technique is a bit more involved than previous methods and is typically used for anchors that are difficult to remove through pulling or unscrewing. This method involves using a cutting wheel to slice around the anchor, followed by tapping the anchor into the wall cavity with a hammer.

It’s a practical approach for stubborn anchors, but it requires caution to prevent damage to the surrounding drywall.

Tools Needed

Cutting Wheel: A rotary tool with a cutting wheel attachment.

Hammer: A small hammer for gentle tapping.

Safety Goggles: To protect your eyes from debris.

Optional: Flathead screwdriver for additional leverage.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Safety First

Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris.

Clear the area to ensure there’s nothing nearby that could be damaged.

Cutting Around the Anchor

Securely attach the cutting wheel to your rotary tool.

Carefully cut around the head of the drywall anchor, aiming to make a shallow incision in the wall around the anchor. The goal is to expose the anchor without cutting too deeply into the drywall.

Tapping the Anchor Inward

Once the anchor is exposed, position the flat end of a screwdriver against the anchor.

Gently tap the screwdriver with your hammer, pushing the anchor into the wall cavity. The idea is to nudge the anchor back without applying excessive force that could damage the drywall.

Continuing the Process

Continue cutting and tapping as needed. If the anchor doesn’t move inward, carefully increase the depth of your cut around the anchor, then try tapping again.

Final Steps

Once the anchor has been pushed into the wall or removed, assess the size of the hole left behind.

Prepare to patch the hole with spackling compound or joint compound, following proper patching and sanding procedures.

Additional Tips

Precision is Key: Use steady hands and work slowly with the cutting wheel to avoid slipping and damaging the wall surface.

Minimal Force: When tapping the anchor, use minimal force to avoid creating a larger hole or causing the drywall to crack.

Patch and Repair: After the anchor is removed or pushed in, patching the hole is essential for a smooth, finished look. Apply spackling compound, sand smooth, and touch up with paint as needed.


The cutting and hammering technique is a useful method for removing drywall anchors that are particularly stubborn. While it requires a bit more effort and care, particularly in handling sharp tools and protecting your wall, it can effectively address anchors that resist other methods of removal.

Always prioritize safety and take your time to minimize wall damage, ensuring your drywall remains in good condition for future decorating or renovation projects.

Method 4: Recessing Plastic Anchors

Recessing plastic drywall anchors is a delicate process that allows for a cleaner finish, especially when dealing with anchors that cannot be easily pulled or unscrewed.

This method involves using a utility knife to carefully create a recess around the anchor, which can then be filled and patched seamlessly. It’s an effective strategy for anchors that are flush with the wall or slightly protruding, minimizing the damage to the surrounding drywall.

Tools Needed

Utility Knife: For scoring and cutting around the anchor.

Putty Knife: This is used to assist in prying out the anchor if necessary.

Spackle or Joint Compound: For filling the recessed area.

Sandpaper: To smooth the patched area.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Preparing the Area

Ensure the work area is clear of any obstructions, and place a drop cloth or protective covering on the floor to catch any debris.

Scoring Around the Anchor

With a sharp utility knife, carefully score around the base of the plastic anchor. The goal is to create a slight recess without cutting too deeply into the drywall.

Make several light passes with the knife rather than one deep cut to maintain control and precision.

Creating the Recess

If the anchor is slightly protruding, gently push it into the wall using the handle of the putty knife to create a recess. For anchors flush with the wall, skip to the next step.

Removing the Anchor (if necessary)

For anchors that need to be removed rather than pushed in, use the tip of the putty knife to carefully pry the anchor out after scoring around it.

Work slowly and carefully to avoid enlarging the hole or damaging the surrounding drywall.

Patching the Hole

Once the anchor is recessed or removed, fill the hole with a spackle or joint compound using the putty knife.

Smooth the compound over the area to ensure it’s flush with the wall surface.

Sanding and Finishing

After the compound dries, lightly sand the area until smooth.

Wipe away any dust with a damp cloth and apply paint as needed to match the surrounding wall.

Additional Tips

Safety First: Use caution with the utility knife to avoid cuts or injuries.

Patience is Key: Work slowly and methodically to avoid unnecessary damage to the drywall.

Seamless Finish: This method allows for a smooth, unnoticeable repair once painted, blending the repaired area with the rest of the wall.


Recessing plastic drywall anchors provides an effective way to deal with unwanted or protruding anchors, leading to a smooth, repaired wall surface ready for paint.

This method requires careful handling and patience but results in minimal damage to the surrounding drywall. By following these step-by-step instructions and employing a gentle touch, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that conceals any evidence of the previous anchors.

Patching and Repairing the Wall

After removing drywall anchors, patching and repairing the holes left behind is essential to restore the integrity and appearance of your walls.

This process involves filling the holes with drywall compound, sanding the area to a smooth finish, and touching up the paint to blend the repair with the surrounding wall. With the right materials and a bit of patience, you can achieve a seamless repair that makes it difficult to tell there was ever damage.

Materials Needed

Drywall Compound: For filling in holes.

Putty Knife: To apply and smooth the drywall compound.

Sandpaper: For smoothing the patched area.

Matching Paint: To touch up the repaired section.

Paintbrush or Roller: This is used to apply the touch-up paint.

Step-by-Step Guide

Filling the Hole

Use a putty knife to apply drywall compound into the hole left by the anchor. Fill the hole, then smooth the compound with the knife to ensure it’s flush with the wall surface.

Allow the drywall compound to dry completely, following the manufacturer’s recommended drying time. This may take several hours or overnight.

Sanding the Patched Area

Once the compound is dry, use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the area gently. Aim to make the patched area smooth and level with the rest of the wall.

Be careful not to sand too aggressively, which could damage the surrounding paint or drywall.

Paint Touch-Up

Clean the sanded area with a damp cloth to remove any dust and let it dry.

Using a paintbrush or roller, apply matching paint over the patched area. For the best results, feather the edges of the paint into the surrounding wall to blend the repair seamlessly.

Allow the paint to dry completely. Apply a second coat if necessary to achieve the desired coverage and color match.

Additional Tips

Practice Patience: Don’t rush the drying times for either the drywall compound or paint. Allowing ample time for each layer to dry ensures a stronger, more seamless repair.

Test Paint Match: If possible, test the paint on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it matches the surrounding wall before applying it to the patched area.

Feather the Edges: When applying the drywall compound and paint, feathering the edges helps blend the repair into the rest of the wall, making the patch less noticeable.


Repairing the holes left by drywall anchors is a straightforward process that greatly enhances the appearance of your walls. By carefully filling, sanding, and painting over these spots, you can make your walls look as good as new.

Whether you’re preparing to repaint, redecorate, or want to maintain a clean and uniform wall surface, mastering these patching and repair techniques is invaluable for any homeowner or DIY enthusiast.


Removing drywall anchors is more than just a task—it’s a simple and rewarding DIY home improvement project that enhances the look and feel of your walls. Through this guide, we’ve explored various methods and techniques that empower you to successfully remove different types of drywall anchors without causing damage.

Whether your goal is to repaint, redecorate, or clean up the appearance of your walls, mastering the art of anchor removal is an invaluable skill for any homeowner.

This journey through the removal process has emphasized the importance of using the right tools and applying the correct techniques. From pulling out plastic anchors with needle-nose pliers to cutting and hammering stubborn metal anchors, we’ve covered a range of strategies to tackle any situation.

Moreover, the subsequent patching and repairing advice ensures that once the anchors are gone, your walls can be restored to their pristine condition, ready for whatever new decorations or paint jobs you have planned.

In essence, removing drywall anchors embodies the spirit of DIY home improvement—taking charge of your living space, learning new skills, and achieving a sense of accomplishment from your efforts.

This task, while seemingly small, can significantly improve the look of your walls and is a great stepping stone to more ambitious DIY projects.

As you move forward with the knowledge gained from this guide, remember that each DIY endeavor adds to your experience, confidence, and capability to handle home repairs.

The satisfaction and cost-saving benefits of tackling common household repairs like drywall anchor removal cannot be understated.

So, take this encouragement to heart, apply what you’ve learned, and embark on your DIY projects with a newfound sense of assurance and readiness to improve your home.