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What is a Toggle Bolt?

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  • Written By: Anna Brooks
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2016
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A toggle bolt is a fastener that is used to attach heavy objects to a wall that is hollow or has no studs, such as drywall. It consists of a bolt with a special collapsible end that can be flattened during installation. Once in place in the wall, the collapsible end springs out to press against the wall and provide support.

To install a toggle bolt, an individual should begin by drilling a pilot hole in the wall large enough for the bolt to fit through. If he or she does not have a drill, a nail can be used to start the hole, and a thin tool, such as a screwdriver or knife, can be used to carefully enlarge the hole until it is the correct size. The bolt is then attached to the object to be hung from the wall. The spring-loaded toggle cannot be moved once it is in place on the wall, so the object should be positioned carefully. If the bolt is removed after it has been installed, the toggle will fall off and be lost behind the wall.

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Once the object is attached, the toggle is placed onto the bolt. The wings should be open in the direction of the bolt head. The toggle is then collapsed and the entire toggle bolt is inserted into the hole in the wall. Once the wings are fully through the opening, they will spring open on the other side. To tighten the bolt, it should be pulled forward and turned clockwise. The wings should remain pressed against the wall until the bolt is tight.

When selecting a toggle bolt for a job, individuals should keep in mind the strength and thickness of the wall and the weight of the object to be hung. Toggle bolts are measured according to the length and diameter of the bolt. Longer bolts can handle heavier loads or thicker walls. A sizing chart can help determine the right size toggle bolt.

There are other options for sturdy wall anchors that are similar to the toggle bolt. A molly bolt, sometimes confused with a toggle bolt, has a foldable end that will grip the back of the wall similarly to the way a toggle does. These foldable ends are part of a bolt "housing" that is placed through the hole in the wall. They unfold when the housing is put into place, so the bolt is threaded through afterwards. When the bolt is removed, the housing holding the legs remains in place and does not fall behind the wall. Still, it is not easy to remove without causing additional damage to the wall.

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