Picture Hanging Requirements

Written by lee carroll
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Picture Hanging Requirements
Picture hanging above sofa (Modern Living Room image by Ritu Jethani from Fotolia.com)

Hanging a painting or framed photograph seems like a simple enough task until you try to find the right spot. Support is critical for hanging a picture. There are different methods, but with the right tools for the job it is not difficult. Whether your walls are drywall, plaster or even masonry, there is a way to hang artwork without worrying about damage to the wall or the picture.

Hooks, Wires and Other Picture Hardware

Pictures do not always come with hanging hardware attached, but basic supplies are readily available at hardware stores. If your picture is small and lightweight, attach a strip of thin metal with a serrated lower edge to the top centre of the back of the frame. The serrated edge catches the nail in the wall. If the picture is larger, use eye hooks. Eye hooks are small screws with loops instead of screw heads. Screw one eye hook into the back of the frame at the top left and right corners, but out of view. Attach each end of a length of picture hanging wire to the eye hooks by twisting the wire around the loops. The wire holds itself in place once it is twisted. For very heavy pictures, consider hefty, triangular shaped loops with flat metal plates. Nail or screw the plates into the top back of the frame at each corner and string picture hanging wire between the triangular loops.

Picture Hanging Requirements
Assorted hardware for hanging pictures (things for hanging pictures image by Steve Johnson from Fotolia.com)

Locating a Stud

Securing a nail or screw into a stud prevents drywall tearing or plaster crumbling under the weight of the picture. Use a digital stud finder, according to the manufacturer's instructions, if your walls are plaster. Tap a hammer lightly across the wall until you hear a solid "thud" rather than a hollow sound if your walls are drywall. Studs are spaced standard widths of 16 inches, 18 inches or even 24 inches apart. Once one stud is found, locate the next closest stud. The distance between them should be the same throughout the house. Knowing the space between your studs helps you find more studs for other pictures.

Plaster and Drywall

Plaster presents two problems: surface crumbling and securing into a stud instead of accidentally into lathe. Lathe is thin, horizontal strips of wood within the wall that plaster adheres to. Predrill a hole, smaller than the diameter of the nail or screw, at a downward angle into the stud. Using a downward angle provides additional support and helps prevent the nail from slipping out. Drive the nail or set the screw into the wall and stud, leaving just enough of the nail or screw head out to stabilise the picture. Catch the picture wire or serrated edge of the picture hanging hardware to the nail or screw. Although drywall does not crumble the way plaster does, predrilling a hole for the nail or screw is still a good idea.

Brick, Cement or Block

Masonry walls require special techniques and tools, but finding a stud is not necessary. Using a special masonry drill bit on a hammer power drill, as recommended by Tim Carter of Ask the Builder, predrill the hole for your hardware. A hammer drill is a speciality tool designed to drill through masonry with short bursts of power instead of a steady drilling motion. After drilling, install a concrete screw, which is different from an ordinary screw, into the wall.

Thin Walls or No Studs

If there is no stud in the correct spot or if the wall is simply fragile, there are still options. Adhesive picture hangers in peel and stick or glued varieties support lightweight pictures. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the best results. Expanding screws are an option for heavier pictures. These special screws are designed with a sleeve that expands as the screw is driven, creating support against the back of the wall. Yet another option is a picture hanging nail designed with an angled metal plate attachment. Tap the nail into the wall at a downward angle until the metal plate meets the surface of the wall.

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