Are Drywall Anchors Reusable? (Quick Read)

We’re using a lot of drywall anchors in our new extension, and inevitably holes are drilled in the wrong place. So are they reusable?

While drywall anchors don’t have to be permanent, if you change your mind about the location of a picture or want to repaint your wall, you can remove the anchor and screw, and refill the hole. However, you cannot reuse the drywall anchor itself as it will be damaged.

Let’s dive down into the subject of reusing drywall anchors in greater detail, and discover what you can and can’t do with them once they’ve been installed…

Are Drywall Anchors Reusable?

Are Drywall Anchors Permanent? (Can You Unscrew & Rescrew Them?)

Drywall anchors don’t have to be permanent. If you change your mind about the location of a picture or want to repaint your wall, you can remove the anchor and screw. Can you reuse the drywall anchor? The answer to this question is unfortunately no.

A drywall anchor can’t be reused because of how they’re designed to work. We’ll explain. You’ve (gently) hammered the anchor into the hole in the wall and it fits neatly.

When you screw the screw into the anchor, the anchor expands to hold the screw securely in place. Because the anchor has expanded around the screw, removing that screw will weaken and snap the plastic anchor.

We don’t like saying this because we hate waste; however, a drywall anchor is generally single-use. Two exceptions: you can also buy “reusable” anchors made from tougher plastic. Check the packaging in the hardware store. 

Also beware – there are some drywall anchors that are described as “removable”. All this means is that you’ll be able to take the anchor out of the hole without busting a gut. It is not the same thing as reusable. 

Also, if you have managed to remove the screw and anchor as a complete unit, you may be able to reuse them together. We wouldn’t recommend this for precious paintings or hanging your TV, however, as you can’t be sure that you’ll get that tight fit in the hole again.

What can you do with your old drywall anchor? They’re usually made from rigid plastic, which isn’t always recycled. You’ll need to check with your local waste management and recycling company if you want to recycle old drywall anchors.

How Do You Fix or Replace a Pulled Drywall Anchor?

Can you fix a pulled drywall anchor? Generally speaking, no, and they can’t be reused unless you are 100% confident that the plastic hasn’t split. 

Luckily, drywall anchors are cheap and easy to buy (a pack of 50 medium-duty anchors is only about twelve dollars), so the best solution is to start again with a new replacement anchor.

So, you have a hole in the wall where the anchor has been pulled. How do you replace a drywall anchor? It’s actually quite a straightforward DIY job. Follow these simple steps.

  • Take the old anchors off the screws so you can reuse the screws (this may involve a hammer and pliers if it still has a good grip on the screw)
  • Now for the hole in the wall. The new drywall anchor has to be bigger than the existing hole. It’s a case of holding up a couple of anchors to the holes to check
  • With a rubber mallet, gently tap in the new anchor. If it’s a tight fit, you’re good to go

Mr Greg talks you through how to replace a drywall anchor in this short, easy-to-follow film. 

He also looks at different types of anchors. A winged version is a good idea when you’re using the same hole, as this type is designed for super-fast holding. However, try to remove this in the future, and half your wall may come away… (we exaggerate, but you get the idea. These anchors are made for long-term use).

Can You Reuse Anchor Screw Holes in Drywall?

As we discussed earlier, you can’t reuse the wall anchor but you should be able to reuse the hole. The exception to this is if when the anchor came out, a load of drywall came with it. If the hole is large and the surrounding wall is damaged, you can’t reuse that hole.

A good test as to whether the hole is reusable is simply to try and insert a new drywall anchor. Make sure it’s a bit larger than the hole, then gently tap it in. If the anchor fits securely, you’re fine. If it’s loose, you can’t reuse that hole. Often you can tell simply by looking.

What if the anchor is still in the hole? Can the hole and anchor be used together? If it’s a reusable anchor, yes. If not, it’s still safest to start again. Generally, you can remove the old anchor by grasping it with needle-nose pliers and wriggling it out.

If that doesn’t work, tap a screwdriver into the anchor using a hammer, then turn the screw counterclockwise. This should remove it slowly and enable you to reuse the hole. Still not moved? This has now become a drilling job. Put on your safety glasses and attach the cutting wheel attachment to your drill…

If you don’t want to reuse the hole, you can simply recess the anchor further into the drywall. This involves driving the old drywall anchor further back into the hole, giving you space to fill the unwanted hole with spackle (we’ll look at repairing old drywall anchor holes in just a minute). By the time you’re attempting to drill out a stubborn old anchor, this may start to seem like the best option…

How Do You Fill & Repair an Anchor Hole in Drywall? (If You Don’t Want To Reuse it)

Do you have an old anchor hole that you don’t want to use again? There are several ways to fill and repair an anchor hole in the drywall. The easiest ways use good old spackle, and really don’t take long at all. If you want a quick and easy repair job, try this method.

You’ll need spackle, mesh tape, a putty knife, sanding paper, and a clean cloth. If you’re finishing the job properly, you’ll also need primer and paint that matches the rest of the wall.

  • Stick a piece of mesh tape across the hole (you can easily pick up a roll of this useful tape at places like Home Depot)
  • Smooth the spackle across the tape using a putty knife
  • Allow the spackle to dry (about 2 hours)
  • Sand the spackle for a smooth finish that blends into the wall
  • Wipe it down, then add another, thinner layer of spackle
  • Allow this to dry, then sand again
  • Clean it, then you’re ready to prime and paint the surface  

Don’t cut corners with this job, even if you’re just going to hang something over the repaired area. Your future self will thank you.

Need to do a quick repair and don’t have any tape? You can stuff something like scrunched up kitchen paper into the hole instead of using mesh tape, then spackle over it as we’ve outlined above. This is a handy hack; however, you know us: we do like to do these things properly!

Drywall anchors

Can I Use New Screws in Old Drywall Anchors?

As we mentioned earlier, a drywall anchor can’t be reused once removed. However, if you’ve bought those reusable drywall anchors we mentioned earlier, yes, you can use a new screw in them. You just have to make sure that the screw is a good fit.

On the whole, we’d recommend starting again each time you want to fix something to drywall, using a new anchor and screw unit. There’s no room for error when you’re fastening something like a TV bracket to the wall, and because drywall isn’t the toughest of surfaces, you need to take extra care.

Summary

So in short, I’m afraid drywall anchors cannot be reused (either plastic or metal ones).

However, if you change your mind about where to hang those family pictures, you can pull out the screws and anchors to relocate them.

You can then fill the holes left behind, and even reuse the screws if they haven’t been damaged at all. 🙂