How to Remove a Toggle Bolt from Drywall: Without Damaging the Wall

how to remove a toggle bolt from drywall

Last Updated on October 2, 2023

At some point in time, almost everyone has had a toggle bolt removed from drywall. Whether it’s because you’re moving a piece of furniture or because you need to access something behind the wall, removing a toggle bolt can be tricky.

If you’re not careful, you can easily damage the drywall. It’s not something that often comes up daily, so it doesn’t come naturally to us. 

But for those occasions when we need to know how to do this task, there are some tried and true methods! In this article, we’ll walk you through the easiest way to remove a toggle bolt from drywall. 

We’ll also give you a few tips on how to avoid many common mistakes.

What is a Toggle Bolt?

A toggle bolt is a type of fastener that is used to attach heavy objects to walls. These nifty little contraptions consist of two metal parts:

  • A spring “wing” mechanism made of spring metal
  • A machine screw allows them to be driven into thicker walls.

The machine screw is inserted through the object you’re attaching to the wall (like a curtain rod or towel bar), and then the spring wing toggle is pushed through the hole in the drywall. The wingspan expands once the bolt is inserted into the drywall, which keeps the bolt from being pulled back through the hole, making it ideal for hanging.

And with multiple sizes available, these bolts can handle some serious weight – we’re talking shelves, mirrors, heavy lighting fixtures…you name it. They’re designed to withstand such pressure that if push comes to shove, the ceiling will pull away from the joists before the toggle bolt gives in.

How to Remove a Toggle Bolt from Drywall?

You’ll need the following:

  • A drill
  • A screwdriver
  • A pair of pliers
  • A hammer
  • Joint compound for the patch
  • A putty knife


1. Loosen and Remove the Machine Screw

Loosen and Remove the Machine Screw
Loosen and Remove the Machine Screw

When removing toggle bolts from drywall, start by unscrewing the machine screw until it’s loose enough to pull out the object you’re attaching. If it is firmly lodged in the drywall, use a small drill bit to make a hole in the center of the toggle and carefully twist it with pliers. 

Use a small screwdriver or pliers to pry it out.

2. Remove the Wing Toggle

Remove the Wing Toggle

Next, grab the wing toggle and twist it back and forth until it breaks off. This can be tricky, as the toggle will likely be stuck in place due to dried adhesive on the wings.

Remove the Wing Toggle

Use pliers or a screwdriver to twist off the wing toggle and remove it from the drywall hole.  

First, gently push the screw with a hammer to grab the wing to the screw. Then using a drill, carefully remove the screw while holding the wing in place so it doesn’t get pulled through the drywall.

If you’re having trouble getting the toggle out, try wiggling it back and forth while you pull. Or pushing it through the hole until it pops out the other side.

Once it’s out, gently pull on the wings to remove them from the wall. The key is to be gentle so you don’t damage the drywall.

3. Patch the Hole in the Drywall

Patch the Hole in the Drywall
Patch the Hole in the Drywall

Depending on the size of the hole left behind, you may need to patch any remaining drywall before inserting a new anchor for your hanging object. To patch the hole, start by screwing a small piece of wood into the drywall to act as a backing.

Then, use spackle or joint compound and apply it to the hole using a putty knife. Smooth it out until it’s even with the rest of the wall, then leave it to dry.

Sand it down until it's smooth

Once it’s dry, sand it down until it’s smooth, and then paint over it for a seamless finish.

So there you have it – removing a toggle bolt from drywall may seem intimidating at first, but with these simple steps, it can be done quickly and hassle-free.

What to Do if the Toggle Bolt Breaks Off Inside the Wall?

Unfortunately, toggle bolts are known for breaking off inside the wall, leaving behind a piece that can be difficult to remove. The good news is there are several strategies you can try to retrieve the broken piece.

  1. Use needle nose pliers or a pair of vice grips to grab hold of the small remaining piece and pull it out.
  2. Use an easy-out kit, which includes a small tool that fits over the toggle and allows you to twist it out from the wall with a drill.
  3. Carefully drill into the toggle with a bit slightly smaller than its diameter, creating space for you to grip it and remove it with needle-nose pliers.

If these options aren’t successful or practical, patch the hole with drywall compound and try again with a different type of mounting apparatus.

Alternatively, you could also try inserting a small screw and using that as leverage to twist out the broken toggle bolt. Whatever method you choose, always use caution so as not to damage the surrounding wall or wires.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes?

There are a few common mistakes people make when using toggle bolts that can be easily avoided.

One mistake is not making the drywall hole big enough for the wings to open up fully. This results in the toggle bolt being unable to grip the drywall properly and eventually falling out.

If you’ve ever tried to remove a nail or screw from drywall, you may have been tempted to grab a hammer and whack it out. But listen up – using a hammer for this task is a big no-no.

Sure, it might get the job done at the moment, but what happens next? You’re left with an unsightly indentation in your wall, causing additional damage and potentially costing more in the long run.

Instead, always make sure you put something between the hammer and wall – like wood planks or a durable block – to cushion the force and avoid any additional damage.

Another mistake is using too small of a toggle bolt for the weight of the object you’re trying to hang. Be sure to choose the right size toggle bolt based on the weight of your object and the type of drywall.

It is often the case that people try to remove the toggle bolt by unscrewing the machine screw without removing the wing toggle first. As a result, the toggle bolt and the wall may be damaged, making it difficult to remove.

Can I Reuse the Toggle Bolt?

While it may be tempting (and save you a trip to the hardware store) to try and reuse this handy fastener, it’s important to note that doing so could negatively affect its effectiveness. The wings, which allow the bolt to expand inside a hollow wall, can become bent or damaged during removal – compromising its ability to hold weight in the future.

So, save yourself the risk and invest in new toggle bolts for your next DIY project.

Don’t Give Up

Removing a toggle bolt from drywall doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. With some know-how, you can remove a toggle bolt without damaging your dry walls.

If you end up breaking the bolt, don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to remove it. Just take your time, be patient, and use caution, and you’ll be able to get the job done.

We hope our tips will help reduce any anxiety you may have felt about tackling this project and help make removal just as easy as installation! Don’t let the fear of this project keep you from completing it – take it one step at a time, and you’ll be fine.

How to Remove a Toggle Bolt from Drywall: Without Damaging the Wall

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