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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

How to remove a rawl plug

Updated: May 14

Pliers pulling a screw and rawl plug out of the wall

Knowing how to remove a rawl plug is a handy DIY skill for a few reasons. You often find rawl plugs embedded in the wall left by previous DIYers and if you don't remove them they'll ruin the look of your newly decorated walls as they stick out above the wall surface slightly so will be noticeable when the light catches them.

Sometimes you might simply put them in the wrong place in error or they might break meaning they need to be replaced before you can put the screw in.

This little tutorial started off as a reel on Instagram a while back. I realised that many people didn’t know how to remove a rawl plug so thought I’d share a couple of DIY tips. If you prefer video, click. that above link

Before we start, a quick word about rawl plugs in case you’re not sure if it’s a rawl plug that you’re dealing with. There are many types of rawl plugs, in various shapes and sizes, that are suitable for different tasks. I think technically ‘Rawlplug’ is a brand, so you’ll see similar wall fixings in the DIY store called ‘wall plugs’ because different companies made them. They have a small round plastic edge and come in a few colours, most commonly red, yellow, blue, brown and grey.

 Today, we are going to look at two types, (below) barbed rawl plugs and non-barbed ones. The example I show is how to remove a rawl plug from plasterboard, but the principals will work in any wall type and in actual fact, rawl plugs are often not the best wall fixing for plasterboard, depending on the weight of the object you’re planning to hang. 

How to remove a rawl plug: 2 ways 

When rawl or wall plugs have barbs, it makes them very difficult to pull them back through the surface they went into for obvious reasons. If the wall surface in question is plasterboard, then it might not be impossible, but if you are successful, it makes the hole you need to fill larger and messier. Therefore, the option I’m going to show below for how to remove a rawl plug is technically not a ‘removal’ at all, but of a ‘remedial’ as the rawl plug body stays in the wall. Let’s take a look…

Find a screw

Screw in a rawl plug

The key step here is to get the right-sized screw for the job. A good way to tell is to use the colour of a rawl plug as a guide. Rawl plugs tend to be the following in diameter (yellow 5mm, red 6mm, brown 7mm, blue 8mm, grey 10mm). If you aren’t sure which is the correct corresponding screw size, then it’s easy to test by inserting the screw into the rawl plug about halfway and checking if it’s a tight fit. You want that screw to fit tightly into the rawl plug at this point so you can get a good enough grip to pull it out.

Screwdriver screwing screw in to rawl plug

Get a grip

Insert the screw halfway into the rawl plug (don’t screw it in too far, as it’ll make the rawl plug even harder to remove because the rawl plug will expand larger than the hole in the wall. When the screw feels tight and secure, grab a claw hammer or pair of pliers.

Pliers pulling rawl plug out of the wall

Pull out

If you are using a claw hammer, trap the rawl plug in the claw and hook it out. If you are using pliers, grip the rawl plug tightly and pull it out of the wall.

Make good

Once the rawl plug is removed, you’ll need to fill the hole it leaves behind and make good. I’ve written a whole separate post about how to repair holes in plasterboard in case it’s useful.

How to remove a rawl plug with barbs

rawl plug with barbed sides

If your rawl plug has barbed sides ( you won’t necessarily know this if you’re removing an old one from the wall until it only comes halfway out and gets stuck), then the easiest option might be to pull it out far enough to cut the end off and then push it back into the wall and fill the hole.

Utility knife cutting rawl plug end off

To cut the end off, you’ll need there not to be a screw in the way, so in this scenario follow steps 1 & 2 from the above procedure then remove the screw. Get a utility (Stanley) knife and cut the protruding part of the rawl plug off. At this point, the rawl plug should be flush to the wall meaning the hole can be filled easily and no-one will ever know there is half a rawl plug hidden in the wall.

I use rawl plugs a lot in my DIY projects as they are super handy for securing screws in the wall when you want to attach say a wall light or painting for example. Always check the fixing type you have is suitable for the wall or ceiling material, it should say on the packet. Always be sure to use the correct size screw in the rawl once it's in the wall to ensure it is able to do its job.

If you find you have a loose rawl plug you'll find my blog post about Wet 'n' Fix pads useful as they are a super quick and simple fix to this issue.

Where next?

Read my must-have DIY tools post to find out all the other toolbox essentials I recommend.

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