How to Hang Items on Walls

Written by deborah stephenson
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How to Hang Items on Walls
There are many ways to hang a picture. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Artwork, shelves, mirrors and other wall-hung items help tie decor together and make a house a home. Getting items to hang properly can sometimes be a daunting task, though -- particularly when the item is heavy or oddly shaped. Even lightweight items may present a challenge on fragile materials such as gypsum board, or in situations where rent agreements prevent putting holes in walls. However, a variety of hangers are available to overcome nearly every difficulty.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil and paper
  • Calculator (optional)
  • Hanging hardware (optional choice)
  • Hammer
  • Drill and bits (optional)
  • Wire, ribbon or monofilament (optional)
  • Stud finder (optional)
  • Multi-purpose electronic tester (optional/ strongly advised)

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    Determining Placement

  1. 1

    Measure the vertical length of the item you are hanging to determine how far to position it from the floor and ceiling. Jot that number down and keep it handy.

  2. 2

    Measure the height of the wall from floor to ceiling and write that number down.

  3. 3

    Determine the height that you prefer for the lower edge of the object you are hanging and measure the distance from that point to the floor, again writing the number down.

  4. 4

    Add the first number to the third number and subtract the total measurement from the second number to get the amount of wall space you will have left above the item after it is in position.

  5. 5

    Use the sum of the previous calculation to determine the position to place the hanger. Depending upon the type of object you are hanging, place the nail or other hanger two to three inches below the spot where the top edge of the item will ultimately rest.

    Choosing a Fastener

  1. 1

    If you rent, check your lease to see whether you can drill holes in walls. If not, choose an adhesive based hook or other fastener for lightweight photos and other lightweight items. If small holes are allowable, use a finish nail, pushpin hook or picture hook to hang lightweight items from picture wire attached to the back of your item. Picture rails are another alternative.

  2. 2

    Use toggle bolts, molly bolts, or plastic anchors on drywall and other thin, hollow walls when drilling holes is not a problem.

  3. 3

    Choose concrete screws or picture rails for hard, solid walls.

    Installing the Fastener

  1. 1

    Locate the wooden framework behind the wall using a stud finder.

  2. 2

    Install a wooden picture rail -- specialised moulding that accepts clip-on hooks -- at the top of the wall, using headless nails hammered into the studs. This is a good system for hanging several items if you do not want holes in the walls. Paint the moulding and leave it in place as trim, to avoid marring the walls. Use wire, ribbon or monofilament line to suspend items from the picture rail with picture rail hooks.

  3. 3

    Screw cup hooks or screw type picture hooks directly into walls at studs for secure fasteners, or hammer finish nails or picture hooks at stud positions.

  4. 4

    Attach items to hollow portions of walls by predrilling appropriately sized holes, inserting spring toggle bolts through the holes and tightening the bolt. Alternatively, drill holes and insert plastic anchors or molly bolts to accept a variety of screw-type hooks for hanging.

  5. 5

    Drill holes with a masonry bit, and then use a concrete screw for hanging items on a brick, cement block or other masonry walls.

Tips and warnings

  • Check out your local DIY stores and online hardware stores before hanging items. There are many hanging systems available for you to choose from.
  • Know what you are drilling into before you start. The Guardian suggests using a multipurpose electronic tester to locate electrical wires and pipes hidden within hollow walls. They also advise never drilling above or below obvious electrical sockets. Failure to heed these warnings may result in electric shocks and damage to your electrical or plumbing systems.

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