Keeping heavy items secure when hanging them on the wall
No home is complete without a few pictures or works of art on the walls. Most of these pieces will be fairly lightweight, allowing them to be secured with a hanger or two.
But some objects will be considerably heavier than a family photo. You might want to put up a hefty mirror, a large painting, or even a non-traditional item that will be a focal point in the room. However, you'll also want to make sure the weight of the object won't cause it to come crashing down.
Many hangers are rated up to a certain weight, so it helps to know how heavy the object you're trying to hang is. If possible, step onto a bathroom scale while holding the item, then weigh yourself. By subtracting your weight from the first figure, you'll know how much the object weighs.
You'll also want to consider the wall itself. Erin Carlyle, writing for the home design site Houzz, says most homes will feature drywall and wooden studs. You may need to consult with a frame shop or other professional to see the best way to hang an object on another surface, such as brick or stone. These walls will require a special type of drill in order to effectively secure a hanger.
Fastening a hanger to a wall stud will offer a more secure purchase. Brett Martin, writing for Popular Mechanics, says you can use a stud finder or rap your knuckles on the wall and listen for a more solid tone. Wall studs are typically located about 16 inches apart, so you can also measure out from a more obvious location for a stud, such as to the side of a light switch secured to the stud.
A traditional set of picture hangers may be capable of holding up the object. Tim Snyder, writing for This Old House, says angled hangers will typically hold 20 pounds or less. Other hooks are rated for up to 50 pounds apiece.
Specialized fasteners will offer a more tenacious hold, which can be particularly useful if you aren't able to secure every hanger to a stud. Carlyle says these fasteners include drywall anchors, which create more stability for screws drilled into the wall, and toggle bolts, spring-loaded mechanisms which deploy wings after they are put in place to give a more solid grip on the back of the wall.
When installing a toggle bolt, you should know exactly where the fasteners need to be. Once the wings have been extended, the bolt can't be removed.
Molly bolts include a sleeve which will give the hanger more purchase on the wall. Snyder says there are a number of other anchor bolts as well, including ones that can be simply tapped into the wall before an expanding sleeve offers more purchase. However, these may only be rated for lighter loads.
Determine how many hangers you'll need to reliably distribute the object's weight. Carlyle says that if the mirror or artwork has a wire on the back for hanging, you can hold the piece by the wire before putting it on the wall. This will let you know if the wire will be strong enough to hold the object and if you'll need more than one hanger.
For particularly heavy artwork, French cleats will often provide the most stability. This device is an interlocking bracket, with one piece mounted on the wall and the other on the back of the frame. Simply slide the artwork into the wall-mounted piece to display it.