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Hardware for Hanging Projects on Walls

You’ve just completed a project that goes on a wall. The next step is to hang it up. Can you just drive a nail into the wall and be done with it? Maybe, or maybe not. Another method may suit the task better. Here are some of your choices, and how to decide which one to use.

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What are you hanging?
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What are you hanging?

You've just completed a project that goes on a wall. The next step is to hang it up. Can you just drive a nail into the wall and be done with it? Maybe, or maybe not. Another method may suit the task better. Here are some of your choices, and how to decide which one to use.

First, consider the item you're hanging. Ask these questions:


  • How heavy is it?
  • Will additional weight be put on it after it's up?
  • Will it need to be taken down? Often? Occasionally? Rarely?
  • What provision does it have for hanging?

There might be a sawtooth hanger; a metal tab with a hole; or, perhaps, a wire strung between a pair of screw eyes. Any of these calls for at least one hook on the wall. It might have a routed keyhole slot, which fits over a screw head, or holes for screwing it to the wall.

Where are you hanging it? Now, make sure that whatever you're hanging won't interfere with doors, windows, light switches, and the like. Hold the item against the wall when you're checking the location -- don't count on memory or measurements to verify whether or not it will fit the spot.

Once you've positioned it, have a helper mark the top and sides on the wall with tiny pencil marks or tape. Next, determine the location of the hanger on back of the project in relation to the top and edges. Then, measuring from the marks on the wall, mark the hanger location on the wall. If the item has multiple hangers, mark them all, making sure they're level.

Gypsum-board walls Wall structure dictates what kind of hardware you can use for hanging. In most cases, you'll be hanging things on a standard stud wall covered with gypsum board or paneling, so that's what we'll focus on.

First, determine whether there's a wall stud behind the spot you've marked. Tap the spot lightly with a hammer handle. If the wall sounds hollow, tap again at several spots to the left and right, listening for the sound to change. When it sounds solid, you've found a stud. (You could test with a stud finder, either electronic or magnetic, too.)

If there's a stud where you've made your mark, or one near enough that you could slightly relocate the item with no difficulty, fall back on that old nail-in-the-wall hanging technique. For anything that will hang on a hook, drive a 4d or 6d finishing nail into the wall at about a 45° angle on your mark. Leave about 1/4" protruding from the wall, and then slip the hanger over it. For a neater job, attach a hook, such as a utility hanger, shown in Photo 1, to the wall with a #8x1" panhead sheet-metal screw driven into the stud. Position the bottom of the hook on your mark.

For routed keyhole slots, drive a panhead screw straight into the wall at the mark. Use one about 1 1/2" long, of a diameter to fit the slot in the project. Similarly, drive a through-project mounting screw right into the stud.

If there's no stud nearby, you'll need to use a commercial picture hanger or attach a utility hanger to the wall with an anchor. Check out these choices found at hardware stores or home centers.


  • Adhesive hanger. Shown in Photo 2, these work fine for light-duty hanging on smooth walls. The advantage of this type is that you can remove it later without leaving a hole in the wall. (Follow the manufacturer's instructions for removing one; doing it incorrectly may damage the paint or even the paper covering on the wallboard.) Use one of these for a scrollsawed plaque or similar item that weighs less than 10 pounds. Follow the installation instructions carefully, and position the hanger so the bottom of its hook is on your mark.

Continued on page 2:  Nail-on picture hanger

 

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Comments (1)
7525025311
handyman4chicag wrote:

A toggle that installs with a phillips is useful for installing a towel bar

5/4/2012 10:10:32 AM Report Abuse

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