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How to Hang (Almost) Anything on Any Wall

For a new homeowner, determining how to hang artwork or other heavy items from the wall can be a daunting proposition. There are several factors to consider, including wall type and how the electrical is run. Even veterans learn something new every time they try to hang something unconventional. Luckily, all it takes is a little knowledge, confidence, and the correct tools to make sure you get the aesthetic you want from your vertical space. 

Step 1 – Determine Your Wall Type

Most modern homes are built using wooden studs with drywall over top. In general, it is preferable to mount into these studs with screws. However, that is not always possible. Your wall type determines the type of hardware you’ll need.

Some common wall types include

  • Drywall (also called “Plasterboard” or “Sheetrock”)
    over Wood Studs
  • Drywall over Aluminum Studs
  • Plaster over Wood Studs
  • Plaster over Masonry (Brick, Concrete, etc.)
  • Bare Concrete or Brick

Determine your wall type. Bare brick and concrete should be obvious. Plaster is common in houses built before 1960. You can test if you have plaster or drywall walls by sticking a pushpin or box cutter into a hidden section of the wall. If the tool goes into the wall, you have drywall. Drywall also makes a hollow sound when struck away from a stud, as opposed to the more solid plaster.

A side benefit of determining your wall type is being informed about your home’s construction while speaking to a home warranty or home repair professional.

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Step 2 – Choose your Placement

Determine the aesthetic of the art or application you are trying to mount. Though it’s subjective and up to the individual, it is generally best to space pictures fairly evenly and leave some negative space between them.

If you are hanging something extremely heavy like furniture or metal, it is necessary to drill into the timber studs. A good stud finder is the right tool for this job. Otherwise, homeowners have several options for mounting objects to drywall or plaster.

Step 3 – Choose the Right Mount   

Once you’ve determined your wall type, it’s time to purchase the correct mounting materials to hang artwork. Popular Mechanics has an excellent guide for determining the exact right mount for the job, but the basics are as follows:

When drilling the pilot holes, be sure to avoid areas that may have electrical wiring, usually by the outlets or near the light switches. However, if you are drilling above three feet and away from the door frame, you should be safe. Whatever happens, if you feel that you’ve struck something you shouldn’t have with your drill, stop immediately.

Feel free to consult a professional if you still do not feel comfortable drilling into your walls. However, new possibilities open up when you know what your house is made of. Some wall materials even increase the value of your house or lower your home warranty premiums. And always remember to relax afterward to enjoy your updated space!

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