Home handyman - need advice

A towel bar was ripped out of the drywall and left big holes where the anchors were.

See photo here: Link

So, I could put a bigger anchor in the big holes. There are toggle bolts, screw in, and the simple hammer in ones.

Should I try to fill the holes first?

Suggestions and help would be greatly appreciated.

What do you need to end up with? Are you trying to put the towel bar back on the wall? Or do you just want to patch the holes?

if A. I would patch the holes and put the bar back in a different position. I’d try to find at least one stud that I could attach to, or in any case make the new position several inches away from the patched holes, and use stronger anchors, like a toggle anchor.

If B. you should be able to patch the holes with spackle.

I wouldn’t try to put the towel bar back in exactly the same spot if any other action is possible.

Also, if the reason the towel bar came down is because someone used it as a grab bar, install a grab bar in a convenient location.

I can’t grasp the arrangement of the towel bar from that photo, but I think the best solution might be to attach it to a fresh undamaged spot a bit higher or lower on the wall. Or if that doesn’t work, it looks like you can fill the old holes and rotate the attachment piece 90 degrees, making new holes & plugs at the 3 o’clock / 9 o’clock positions.

(ninja-ed, pretty much)

I’ve reused large holes left by screw-in anchors by using toggle bolts.

It’s not clear how big the holes are, or what kind of anchor you had. But if I had a nice big hole where an expansion plug had come out, I’d put in a cavity anchor, not a toggle bolt.

A typical toggle bolt has a narrow body, and doesn’t fill the hole well. A cavity anchor flattens out behind the drywall/plaster, and has a body that fills the hole.

I’ve had wall pugs come out: both the easy “no drilling required” wall plug (which needs to be installed correctly to work at all), and the plastic tube type (which works a lot better if the drill hole is the correct size, and if you start with one designed for wallboard, not one designed for brick or concrete). I haven’t yet had a cavity anchor pull out: of course they cost 10 times as much, but we’re still only talking about a dollar.

My impression is that toggle bolts are yesterday’s technology, and that cavity anchors, while more expensive, are neater and work even better.

I do a lot of these. In my opinion the holes are too big. It will just fail again.

Use these and find an unblemished section of wall.

Molly bolts or toggle bolts (with a washer) should work just fine. Those anchors that look like giant plastic screws may work, but it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of meat for them to grab.
My concern is (especially with the big plastic anchors) is that the drywall appears compromised. No matter what you do, it may tear the whole area out. But even if it did, you’re no worse off.
Two suggestions:

  1. Find a new towel rack that has a bigger area that comes in contact with the wall. That way you can move it over a few inches and hide the old holes.
    2)Get a nice looking piece of wood (something like a ‘plaque’ that you can stain), that’s as long as the towel rack. Then you can mount that to the wall using screws in different spots and mount the towel rack on the wood.


Since this is asking for advice, let’s move it to IMHO.

I would not re-attach it to just drywall, no matter what anchors you use.

Look for an adjustable replacement towel bar that will span two studs.

While I agree with that (though a towel bar hopefully won’t require that much strength), the problem may end up being that a bar between two studs will end up in an awkward place. But sometimes you can get at least one side on a stud and that helps.

Also, at least for me, one of the reasons for attempting to mount it in the same place is to hide the holes in the drywall instead of fixing them and ending up having to paint (at least part of) the room.

I always remove a section of drywall where the towel racks go and replace it with wood mounted to studs, skim it back over with drywall mud and it is invisible.

Man, I hate those things. If you make a mistake installing them, they really do some damage to the wall board. Also, they don’t seem to hold all that well. I prefer an expansion anchor for a new installation.

Also, I’ve never had a problem with just attaching a towel bar to wall board. Attaching to studs is overkill.

When you’re using an expansion (Molly_(fastener)) anchor or toggle bolt, I agree. I actually prefer using toggle bolts because if you decide to remove and reposition the bar, it’s easier to just remove the bolt and let the toggle drop into the wall cavity rather than ripping out an expanding anchor. Either way, you’re going to have a hole to spackle and paint but the toggle is simpler and neater.

Disagree. It’s just the right amount of kill.

Did you see the OP’s photo? It wasn’t the weight of a towel that yanked that bar through the drywall. Whatever caused it to happen could happen again.


Based on my experience (doing a lot of remodeling in my 111-year-old house), two people have already given you the right answers:

  1. that got pulled out by someone grabbing onto it. So install grab bars nearby so it doesn’t happen again. And grab bars DO need to fix to a wall stud. You’ll eventually need them anyway, when somebody in your house turns age 60. And they’re handy for younger people, too. So do it now. They’ll also increase the house value, if you sell it before then,

  2. Try to relocate the towel bar so it too can be anchored to a stud. If not possible, install a wood board that is anchored to studs, and then put the towel bar on that. Either under the plaster like HoneyBadges says, or an exposed, decorative one like Joey P said. Router the edges & stain the wood, and it can be a decorative element. Several people have commented on the beautiful wood panel, routed & stained, attached with 4 fancy brass headed screws above my stairway in my house. Looks nice, but it’s actually the access panel to the hot tub machinery.

I don’t discard the possibility that somebody leaned on the towel rack, but that’s not what I see: There is a paint mark around the attachment point, not wall damage. And the screws pulled out because they weren’t properly anchored.

There is nothing wrong with firmly mounting a towel rack to studs. And there is nothing wrong with putting in a grab rail where one is required or assumed or would be useful. All of those seem like good things. But if it was just a badly mounted towel rack, of course it came out. You can’t just screw a towel rack to plaster board and expect it to hold.

IME, these stuff are junk. The grooves are not deep enough, and with enough wear and tear, the drywall around them eventually crumbles. You can use that for something like a picture (or anything which doesn’t get touched once it’s installed), but I would not recommend it for a towel bar.

What I’ve found to be the best option are these.

I’ve used those all over my house and never had an issue with them. I started using them when I first moved in and mounted a coat rack to the wall, which fell down a few weeks later. I put these anchors in, close to 15 years ago, and haven’t had a problem since. Even when it’s loaded up with a ton of winter jackets and heavy sweatshirts.

The trick, I’ve found, is to get the big ones. There’s usually a few sizes available, get the biggest ones.