Decorating your home with pictures, hanging a mirror in the bathroom, or installing shelves for displaying heirlooms requires the correct fastening system to support the weight. Here are 10 tried-and-true ways to hang items. Before you start, review this story that shows how to determine what’s behind a wall before driving fasteners. Also make note that it's best to stay well under the maximum weight allowance that is stated for a hook. If none of these options will work for you, then build your own french cleat which can be customized anyway you choose.
A variety of these anchors are available, typically supporting 50 lbs. to 100 lbs., depending on the brand, fastener size, and drywall thickness. They’re strong enough for mirrors, towel racks, large pictures, and other items. You can use them in the ceiling, too, for hanging flower baskets.
The anchor is inserted into the wall—you use a screwdriver instead of the old method of drilling a hole and sticking in the anchor. When the included screw is driven into the anchor, the anchor expands to lock into the drywall.
Traditional toggle bolts are cheap ($9 for 50) and easy to use, but they don’t support a lot of weight. Toggle anchors with bolts are more heavy duty, holding more than 235 lbs. They can be installed in drywall or hollow concrete blocks, and cost just over a buck a piece.
To use, drill a hole in the wall, then feed the channel through the hole so it’s inside the wall. The channel is what provides the support. Then you snap off the excess straps so they’re flush with the wall. When you insert the fastener, you get a tight, secure hold.
Hang anything from frame photos, pictures, and lightweight mirrors using this pack of 17 picture hangers. It includes easy to use hooks that can hold from 5 to 100 pounds. Simply drive the included pins through the hole in the hook and through your drywall. As a bonus these can be reused if needed.
Mirror clips are secure solution for hanging a mirror on the wall. The challenge with using clips on an oval mirror is knowing where to install the clips. Use hanger clips with an elongated screw hole that, once installed, can slide along the fastener. Mirror hanger clips cost about $7 for a pack of six.
To start, hold the mirror in the spot you want it, then trace around the top and bottom edges with a pencil. Lay the mirror aside, then install the clips, two along the top and two at the bottom, so the outside of the clip edge is flush with the pencil line. Place the mirror in the two bottom clips, push the mirror against the wall, then slide the top two clips over the mirror edge.
If you have poured concrete or block walls in your basement, you’ll need concrete wall anchors. Once set, these anchors can support a TV, shelves, pictures, or other items.
A masonry drill bit is included in this kit and the anchors are specially designed to hold in block and brick.
Spring-loaded curtain rods fit inside the window frame and stay in place with tension. It’s an option that’s super easy to install, but the downside is that these rods easily come loose if you pull on the curtains or even open or close them too aggressively. A better solution is to install a curtain rod above the window using screws.
Windows have a header over the top and studs along the sides, so there’s plenty of wood framing for the screws to bit into. Driving screws through the curtain rod brackets into the framing only takes a few minutes, and you won’t have to worry about the curtains falling down.
Televisions are becoming increasingly lightweight, but you still need the proper installation system to attach them to a wall. A variety of wall-mounted brackets are now available, starting at $15. You must make sure to buy a bracket that fits your TV. Some brackets are stationary, while others let you move the TV from side to side and up or down. You’ll need to make sure the bracket is level when installing it.
Before hanging the TV, decide how to handle the cords. You can let them dangle loose, if you don’t mind looking at them. Or, if you want a clean look, you’ll have to fish them inside the wall, which can be tricky, then patch and paint the holes you cut in the wall.
All brackets require securing them into wall studs using lag bolts which are usually supplied with the bracket.
The best way to hang tapestry is to use tapestry clamps. Driving nails through a tapestry leaves tiny holes in it, which can become elongated under the weight of the artwork. Quilt clamps avoid that problem. You fasten them to the wall, then they clamp onto the tapestry to hold it in place. The clamps can also be used for lightweight quilts.
Clamps start at about $15 and come in a variety of colors and designs. Unless your tapestry or quilt has a specific design that requires it to be hung in a certain way, it’s a good idea to rotate it every couple months. This prevents uneven fading from the sun and avoids stressing the fabric in one direction.
The best way to hang a heavy quilt is by using a rod and sleeve. Tacking up or clamping a heavy quilt by the corners can stretch it out and cause it to sag, ruining its shape. Using a rod and sleeve distributes the weight evenly across the top. This avoids stressing the fabric and offers a clean, sleek look.
You’ll need to sew a sleeve to the back of your quilt (videos on YouTube show how). Then you insert the rod through the sleeve and hang the rod on the wall. A rod hanger, which extends from 21 in. to 35 in. to handle most quilt sizes, costs $22.
Open back pictures can be tricky to hang, but cleats can solve the problem. Some pictures and canvases do not have a solid back. A cleat picture hanger, which starts at $5.50 for a 60 lb. weight capacity, makes it easy to display that artwork.
One piece of the interlocking bracket is attached to the top and back of the picture. The second piece (cleat) is fastened to the wall. Then you simply set the picture on the cleat.
Most houses will have drywall, but many built before 1950 used lath and plaster, which is harder than drywall, brittle, and much thicker. You can feel the difference, but if you're still not sure, a pushpin will go into drywall. It won't go into plaster.
Whether you're hanging a kitchen cabinet or a coat hook, your best option is to attach things to a stud. If you're working with plaster, this can be tough, since the fasteners used to attach the lath will throw off a stud finder. One way to cheat is to look for a light switch. Most are mounted inside the first stud by the door frame. (The box holding its wiring needs to be attached to something sturdy.) Take off the switch plate and you can see which side of the stud the box is mounted on by spotting the screws. Most wall framings set studs every 16 inches, so you should be okay to measure from there, but double-check with a pilot hole. You need to drill through the plaster and into the wood framing. Expect your bit to take a beating from the harder material. While most drywall is 3/8 or 1/2 inch thick—and thus works with 1 1/4-inch screws for light loads—plaster can range from 3/4 inch to 1 1/4 inches thick, so you may need screws up to 2 1/2 inches long.
Use the back of your knuckle and rap horizontally along the wall at 1-inch intervals. The noise should go from hollow to solid when you get to the stud.
Run a powerful rare-earth magnet along the wall. It will stick where a screw or nail is driven. This is also a good way to find metal studs, used in many apartment and commercial buildings and not easily located by a stud finder. If you're hanging anything of significant weight (over 10 pounds), reinforce it with a section of 2 x 4 to spread out the weight along the stud and keep the metal from twisting.
The easiest option is to use a professional-duty stud sensor, which often has settings to detect energized wires and buried pipes. If you're finding a lot of wires, cut power at the service panel before drilling holes or doing any disruptive work. When boring between studs, drill a hole through the drywall, stop the moment it breaks through, and poke a pencil or other probe into the hole before proceeding. You can also get an approximate idea where pipes and wires are by looking in the attic and basement to see where they run up or down through the framing.
If you have a lot of wall fastening to do in an old house or in walls crowded with pipes and wires, consider buying a cordless inspection camera such as the DeWalt DCT410S1 ($267). It lets you see inside wall cavities, and its wireless screen can be removed, allowing better visibility in a tight spot or odd location, such as the back of a closet.
Use screws, not nails, since screws can always be backed out with minimal damage if you hit an obstruction. Nails can go right through, and then you might further damage the wall surface when you pull them out. Instead of drywall screws, use self-drilling screws with a large, flat washer head and coarse threads that are meant to bite into softwood lumber. They're easier to drive, and the flat head acts like a clamp, evenly distributing force as the screw is driven. It works better than the bugle-shaped head of a drywall screw.
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Never use a screw longer than is absolutely necessary, in order to avoid hitting buried pipes and wires. For most drywall jobs, that means 1 1/4 inches. This size is much stronger than you think. Some can withstand thousands of pounds of force.
Stop. Never push through, assuming that you're breaking through flashing or a knot in the wood. There's a good chance that you're about to pierce some ductwork or ruin your drill bit against a metal protector plate over a pipe or cable. Back it up and try another spot. This is no time for the use of force
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