Methods For Hanging Framed Pictures, Part 2: Hanging Heavy Pictures
By Sheila Gallien
In Part 1 of this series, we acknowledged how framed art can bring out the beauty in any space, personal or professional. But novice decorators might feel intimidated by the prospect of hanging heavier pieces. Here we discuss the process of hanging heavier pictures, which simply requires a little more planning.
Starting with a couple of general principles, make sure, first of all, that the art is secure in its frame. Any loose areas will worsen under pressure, and might cause damage to both the frame and art, or even allow the piece to fall. Also, plan to hang heavy pictures from two secure points. Hanging them from one point will create stress across the back of the frame, weakening corners and opening mitres.
Next, you need to know the material and thickness of the wall you intend to use. Wood is suitable for almost any object. Concrete requires special anchors. Particle board should not be used for heavy pieces. The most common material is drywall, which comes in thicknesses of ?” to 1 ?”. The standard thickness is 5/8”, but in some newer construction you might find ?” walls, and sometimes shared walls are up to 1 ?”. You may want to use extra precautions for hanging objects on thin drywall, or check the specifications of whatever fasteners you choose.
Once you have secured your picture and analyzed the wall materials, you are ready for the three-part process of hanging a heavy picture. These steps are:
1. Installing a fastener to anchor the picture to the wall;
2. Installing a hanging device on the frame itself;
3. Installing the matching hardware to connect the frame to the wall.
Some systems are designed to streamline the process. All the most popular methods are discussed below.
The Wall: Installation Fasteners
After you have analyzed the material of the wall and made sure it is structurally suitable, you need to decide on the method you will use to secure the picture to the wall. There are essentially five different types of wall fasteners:
Anchors: Anchors are over-sized screws which allow a screw to be inserted into the center. They are designed for drywall, and require only a Phillips screwdriver for installation. The screw can be easily removed from the anchor, and the anchor itself can be removed in seconds as well. Anchors can be used with any hanging device.
Toggle Bolts: Also known as butterfly bolts, Toggle Bolts are very strong fasteners for drywall. Toggle Bolts come in two pieces, a long bolt and the toggle itself. You need to drill a fairly large hole for the toggle to fit through, thread it onto the bolt, then insert the whole unit into the hole. Once installed, the toggle springs open like a butterfly behind the wall. The bolt can later be loosened but not fully removed without losing the toggle section inside the wall.
Molly Bolts: Another strong fastener for drywall, Molly Bolts are similar to Toggle Bolts, but are in one piece, and don’t require as large a hole to be drilled. The Molly Bolt is drilled into the wall like a screw, then the tightening action fans the holding section of the screw behind the drywall. The object then attaches through the same screw hole used for installation. After installation, the bolt portion of the Molly can be fully removed and reattached as often as required.
Wall-DogsTM: This anchorless screw is the best choice for attaching Heavy Duty Cleats or the Hangman wall brackets to nearly every material, including concrete. No wall anchors are needed, but Wall-DogTM, anchorless screws require a special drill bit for drilling the screw holes in the wall. This can be purchased at any big box store.
Bear ClawTM: A relatively new addition to the fastener marketplace, this is a self-tapping, anchorless screw used in studs, plaster or drywall, developed and marketed by Hangman Products . The Bear Claw™ is installed with a few taps and a screwdriver. While the Bear ClawTM will not bear as much weight as the Wall-DogTM, it will certainly support most heavy paintings, canvas or paper. The Bear ClawTM is easily removable.
The Picture: Hanging Devices and Connecting to the Wall
As part of your decision regarding the anchor system on the wall, you will need to consider which technology to use for hanging your picture.
The frame will either be hung from two points on the wall, with a hanging device attached to two points on the frame (with or without picture wire), as with most of the older picture technology. Or, it will be hung with a system that spreads the weight across a broad piece of metal, as with the newer technology.
The most common Hanging Devices for pictures are:
Heavy-Duty Cleat Hanger: This technology, sold in a set, consists of either one 24" long or one 40" long extruded aluminum cleat which is mounted on the wall with screws and anchors and a pair of matching profile 2 1/2" long cleats that are screwed onto the back side of the picture frame. Based on the old woodworking "French Cleat" principle, this mounting system creates simple, strong and reliable installations for large or heavy paneling, signage, framed mirrors or artwork.
D-Rings, with or without Picture Wire: To use D-rings without picture wire, install them at the back top corners of the frame, making sure they are perfectly even. (You will also need to be sure the screws and anchors are perfectly level on the wall so your picture hangs level.) Pre-drill the holes and use the included screws to secure the D-ring. Then hang the D-rings directly onto the screws anchored into the wall. Hangman Products has just introduced a Double-Headed Bear Claw™ screw designed especially for D-rings and wire. At any rate, do not attempt to hang a heavy picture with D-rings without first installing an appropriate wall fastener.
To use picture wire with D-rings, install them one-quarter to one-third down from the top on the side rails of the frame. If the frame allows, rotate the hangers in slightly, so they will be in line with picture wire when pulled taut. Pre-drill the holes, and fasten the D-rings with the included screws. String the picture wire through, allowing enough slack so that the apex of the wire is half-way between the D-rings and the top of the frame. Remember that you will be using two anchor points, so you will actually have two top points.
The Hangman Products Heavy Duty Hangman System is a high-strength, all aluminum two bracket hanger which disperses the weight along the back of the picture. The brackets are available in lengths from 6” to 30” to accommodate a wide array of sizes and weights. The Heavy Duty System is designed for hanging paper art in wooden frames. One bracket is screwed into the wooden frame and the other attaches to the wall with either wall anchors and screws or Wall-dog™ screws (all included). The interlocking brackets then slide together to secure the picture. The wall bracket also contains a removable bubble level to guarantee that your installation is level.
The Hangman Products Frame/Canvas Hanger is a high strength, all aluminum, two bracket hanger designed to hang canvas in wooden frames. One bracket is screwed into the wooden frame and the other attaches to the wall with screws and anchors or Bear Claw™ anchorless screws. The interlocking brackets then slide together to secure the picture. As with the Hangman Heavy Duty System, the wall bracket contains a removable bubble level, and all hardware is included with this product.
A Couple of Extra Tips:
Rust: No matter what system you choose, always use materials which will not rust: nickel-plated screws, brass or nickel-plated screw eyes and D-rings, and non-rusting multi-strand wire if you are using wire. Rust will weaken any system and may allow your picture to fall.
Very Heavy Pictures: For very heavy pieces, you might want to use a well-secured picture rail. Or, you might consider using a shelf to distribute some of the weight.
About the Author: Sheila Gallien is a noted screenplay consultant who also writes articles on picture hanging in her spare time. For more information on framing please go to The Hangman Store or Hangman Products.
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