How to Choose the Right Wall Plugs

The wall plug is a worldwide fixing device used for DIY purposes and professional trades. These handy tools are small, plastic inserts that sit within materials that are less capable of supporting weight. They allow for screws to then be inserted, securing all kinds of wall attachments.

The original name for the wall plug is rawlplug, named appropriately after its inventor, British engineer John Joseph Rawlings. The creation was developed in the early 1910s, and gained increasing popularity in the 1970s with the growth of home DIY projects. It is still referred to as the rawlplug in some settings today.

The contemporary plastic wall plug comes in several sizes and strengths specific to many tasks. It has many benefits, and for this reason it is imperative that the right wall plug is chosen for the job.

In this blog post, we discuss three of the main types of wall plugs, key considerations to look out for, and how to install them.

Types of Wall Plugs

Anything that you want to attach to walls where a screw alone won’t do the trick, these inserts are an essential. Whether you’re hanging picture frames, adding a decorative mirror or putting up shelves, you’ll need to use fixings that match the material of the wall and the weight of the object.

There is a range available on the market. While they may be deciphered by colour, many brands use different colours so this is not a guaranteed way to shop. You will commonly see yellow, brown and red plastic wall plugs. However, there are many other colours including blue, grey and white. You may even want to use orange if using larger frame anchors.

Here are 3 types you are likely to come across in your search

Universal Wall Plugs

The universal nylon wall plug is an original type which is now available in several other variations. When adding the wall screws, the plug expands as you tighten it, fastening itself firmly into the material.

The universal works best with masonry walls that require objects to be securely anchored into place. After drilling the hole using a power drill, the plug can be simply tapped into place using your finger tips.

Plasterboard Wall Plugs

Plasterboard wall plugs are created to expand or pull from the other side of hollow surfaces once positioned. The plug expands either inside or behind the surface, in an action similar to an umbrella.

This means that when the screw is added to the plug, it helps to distribute the weight of the object that you are hanging, providing an instant grip. A benefit is that anti-rotation fins stabilize the wall plug, ensuring it doesn’t spin when tightening the screw in place.

Plaster wall plugs come in a variety of sizes, and are often sold in packs. Plasterboard fixings are useful to keep at home or work for DIY projects, both great and small.

Butterfly Wall Plugs

The butterfly wall plug developed its name from its wings which mimic the appearance of a butterfly. This kind is easily spotted on the appliance shelves for its unique look.

A variety of the nylon wall plug, this one is best applied to hollow walls. It is ideal for hanging lighter objects such as smaller mirrors, picture frames and non-heavy, hanging paintings.

On the market you will find lots of other varieties, like spring toggle plugs, anchor bolts and hammer fixings. Each is designed for different tasks to avoid wall damage, provide the right level of strength and to sit perfectly in different structures.

Considerations when Choosing Wall Plugs

Before adding to your cart, purchases should be made based on important considerations. It’s essential to understand that the material determines the make required, and the design requires the right type of wall plug screw. Think about the most suitable drill size too.

They must all match up. For instance, drywall will need a drywall-specific screw or collated drywall screws if using an automatic feeding screw gun. Many brands provide all kinds of fixings, like Macsim wall grabs.

Consider the following categories to filter the most suitable product.

Material Suitability

First things first, consider what the wall is made of before shopping. This will determine the type of wall plug you need to complete the task successfully. Generally, you want to know whether the wall is hollow or solid.

Solid materials could include;

  • Concrete
  • Cement 
  • Stone 
  • Masonry 
  • Solid brick
  • Solid block

A hollow material means that the depth of the wall is not solid throughout. This includes;

  • Plasterboard
  • Drywall/gyprock
  • Hollow brickwork
  • Hollow block

A hollow wall anchor setting tool is a useful appliance for setting anchors in plasterboard walls. There are different types of screws tailored to hollow wall applications too, such as Zinc wall screws. Hollow walls tend to be more brittle, so you want to avoid damage as much as possible.


The size should be selected according to the type of plug required and the heaviness of the load you want to attach to a surface.

The wall plug needs to match with the screw. Therefore the size of the screw primarily determines the wall plug. The weight of the object you want to hang determines the screw that you need, and thus the wall plug type.

Most importantly, it should be flush with the wall, creating a level surface. If the sizing is wrong, the plug will not grasp in the way that it should.

Weight of the Object

From bathroom wall niche inserts to heavy artwork, the weight attached to the wall has a bearing on the equipment required. For greater loads, a more heavy duty wall plug is needed for a superior grip and extra support.

How to Install Wall Plugs

Wall plugs are essential for fixing or hanging anything to your walls, such as mirrors, paintings and cabinets. The plug is designed to grip the sides of a predrilled hole, while securing the screw in place without causing damage to your walls.

For most types, you’re going to need a drill. The drill bit and fasteners should match in size to the plug.

Here are 5 steps to installing wall plugs.

Step 1

To get started, decide where you want to fit something in your home. For safety reasons, always check that there are no hidden pipes, cables or wires behind the chosen location. When confirmed, mark the wall using pencil so you know where to drill.

Step 2

Select the right wall plugs for the job. As discussed, you should select the wall plug designed for a specific use.

Step 3

Measure the length of the wall plug next to your drill and mark it using tape or something similar. You can then penetrate the wall to the desired length, although you will need to go a little deeper than the plug length.

Step 4

Drill the hole slowly and carefully, keeping a steady hand. You only need to drill far enough to accommodate the wall plug.

Step 5

When the drilled hole is ready, insert the wall plug with your hands and push it into the hole. It should be a snug fit, otherwise it will not be able to grasp the screw when tightened.

If needed, you can use a hammer to gently tap the plug further into the wall until it becomes even with the surface.

The screw can now be inserted and fastened securely.


After assessing the key factors for choosing the most suitable wall plug, you can go ahead and move forward with your tasks. Enjoy home accessories, features and wall storage in the knowledge that they are sitting perfectly in place!

Should you need to, always remove wall fixings carefully to avoid damage to the wall and surrounding plasterwork. Needle nose pliers can be used to pull plugs from walls.


What are wall plugs used for?

Wall plugs are a necessity for hanging any sort of attachment to your walls such as artwork, cabinets and shelves. They provide a tight grip within a predrilled hole, so that screws may be inserted and fastened securely into place. With some walls, the screw alone is unable to provide the required grip.

How do I know which plug to use?

In the simplest terms, you want to match the wall plug to the screw. The main factors to consider when purchasing wall plugs is the material of the wall you want to drill into, the weight of the object you want to attach, and the sizing of the predrilled hole.

How much weight can wall plugs hold?

There are many variations of wall plugs available for different purposes. These fixings can be purchased in different strengths depending on the weight of the object you want to fix to a wall. Wall plugs have the ability to hold a range of attachments from lightweight mirrors to heavy paintings and bathroom cabinets.