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Wall fixings buying guide

When you're putting up shelves or attaching cabinets, frames, posts or any other heavy items on to an internal or external wall, you'll need a strong fixing to do the job safely and properly. This guide shows some of the available types with their suggested uses.

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Expanding masonry bolt

This is an extremely strong fixing for attaching heavy items (like fence posts) to masonry walls. A bolt is screwed into a metal or plastic segmented shield, which fits into a drilled hole. As you tighten the bolt, the segments are forced apart to expand and grip the sides of the hole.

Frame fixings

These long plastic or metal fittings are ideal for attaching wood, metal or plastic window and door frames to your wall. They fit into a hole drilled through the frame into the wall.

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Screwing into a laminated board with a regular screw will result in the board splitting. Knock-down fixings are used for secure fixings in laminate that give strength and avoid splitting.

Chipboard fastener

This nylon plug has a thread on the outside which grips the board to make a secure fixing for woodscrews - so anything secured to the wall won't fall down.

Tee nut

The projecting prongs of this metal nut grip into the wood. It's stronger than a chipboard fastener, but shows both sides.

Screw socket

This is a threaded metal plug into which a screw is fitted. It's slightly weaker than a block joint, but much neater.

Cross dowel

A cross dowel consists of steel dowel with a hole drilled through it, and a screw which fits through the dowel. The slot inside means you can turn it with a screwdriver to line it up. Ideal for tasks such as joining the ends of rails to side panels.

Block joints

These fittings are plastic blocks that come in two sections. You can use them to join panels of man-made boards (like chipboard) at right-angles to each other. Just screw one block to each of the boards, then join the two plastic blocks together with a longer screw.

If you're putting screws into hollow plasterboard walls, you should use specially designed fixings. The strongest kind open up when they're inside the cavity, but none are strong enough to take a really heavy load. For heavy loads, locate the timber wall studs and fix the load with wood screws.

Metal anchor

This has metal segments that open out in the hollow wall.

Plastic anchor

This includes a plastic anchor with segments that open out when it's in the hollow wall.

Nylon petal plug anchor

This has nylon wings that open out like petals to grip the back of the plasterboard.

Gravity toggle

A gravity toggle is a strong fixing for plasterboard or lath-and-plaster walls. Basically, it's a screw with a swinging metal bar (toggle) attached. When you insert it, the toggle swings down and grips the back of the wall. The toggle is lost in the cavity if you remove the screw.

Spring toggle

This screw gives you a strong fixing for plasterboard or lath-and-plaster walls. It has a spring-operated toggle bar which folds flat so you can insert it, and which then opens inside the cavity. As you tighten the screw, the bar is pulled tight against wall. The toggle will be lost in the cavity if you take the screw out.

Plastic screw-in plug

This has a coarse thread designed to cut through plasterboard, which makes it ideal for using with screws and hanging a range of household items.

Metal screw-in plug

This has a coarse thread on the outside, and a sharp point that cuts its own hole in plasterboard. This gives it a secure hold in the wall.