I'm moving to a house that has plaster walls, a first for me. I'm told
that hanging objects on plaster can be traumatic.
I have some framed pictures that aren't terribly heavy - none more than
ten pounds, I'd guess, and most under five.
I also have an African antelope skull that probably weighs 20 pounds.
(The scale is packed for moving.)
Any advice on how to hang them, or which one(s) not to hang?
If you think you might be changing pictures occasionally, buy picture
molding and run it along the ceiling, or just under the crown molding.
Paint it the same color as the wall or ceiling so that it essentially
disappears. Then buy "s"-shaped picture hooks which fit the molding, and
hang your pictures from the molding using the picture hooks and cord, chain
or fishline. This way you'll never have holes in the wall and you'll be
able to change around what you have hanging.
Yes! Living in an old house that has picture rails in every room it IS
cool and so easy. The pictures hang straighter too since the hanging
cord is so long - they don't get bumped or vibrate out of level. BTW,
I've used a pair of copper wires twisted with a drill for my cable as
well as some brass figure-8 chain from the hardware store. If you
(sweeping generic "you") goe with chain, make sure the links are small
so that there's not a solid link just where the picture needs to hang to
I want to be sure I understand what you mean by plaster. If you're using
the term to refer to texture finished sheetrock, you won't have any problem.
If you're talking about something else I don't know what to tell you.
Sheetrock is very common wall material in my area. My wife is a
professional artist and we have framed oil paintings all over the house. The
upstairs looks like an art gallery. She uses heavy duty picture hooks
driven straight into the sheet rock. These are the type with a flat metal
hook and a small slanted nail that goes through them. She uses two per
picture. The paintings range from 10x12 to 36x44 with heavy 5" wide frame.
We've never had a picture fall in 25 years. Of course we don't live in
Lath and plaster or sheetrock? If it's the former, just make sure you
drill a pilot hole and put one of those little plastic screw anchors
in the wall. If you just drive in a nail, it's liable to take a big
hunk out of the plaster. For heavier things, get one of those drywall
hangers that come with plant hooks that hang from the ceiling.
They're basically just a bolt with an expanding anchor that you
squeeze closed and push through your hole. Once the anchor is
through, it expands inside the wall, and will support quite a lot more
weight than a simple nail or screw.
If you're talking about real plaster walls, you have a couple of
options. First of all, I like picture molding the best, because it
means you don't have to put holes in the wall. For real small pictures
or photos, you can just tap a round masonry nail into the wall; if you
do it slowly, the nail will be snug and will be able to support
something lightweight. You can put a piece of masking tape on the wall
before nailing to help prevent chipping.
For heavier items, you can try running a drywall screw into the wall;
you'll have a pretty good chance of hitting the wood lath behind the
For really heavy items, use a masonry drill and a plastic wall anchor.
I have lath and plaster. The lath is the button board type, not wood
strips. Unless your house is really old, yours probably is too.
For light pictures I just use a course thread drywall screw.
For up to a few pounds I use metal mollys that expand on the far side. Be
sure to get the long ones because lath and plaster is about twice as thick
as drywall. Get a stud finder, because if you try to put one of these too
close to a stud it won't have room to expand. I haven't had much luck with
the plastic inserts; they want to pull out.
For heavy stuff, try to screw into a stud. If this isn't practical, I use
You'll also need some masonry bits.
Visit the oldest hardware store in town and see if you can find someone
knowledgeable to help you.
I'm told the house was built in the 1950s. It even has the remains of a
brick garbage incinerator in the back yard. Thought it was a BBQ at
Masonry bits, stud finder, molly bolts... maybe I should sell my stuff
on eBay and learn to enjoy the serenity of uncluttered white walls. :-)
I didn't mean to scare you. :-)
It's really not that big of a deal. Check with your new neighbors. Their
houses are about the same age, and I bet they'll help you out.
My house was built in 1953.
The brick incinerator brings back memories. It was my job as a kid to burn
the trash in one.
Mine was built in 1958, which (around here at least) was a transition
point between plaster and drywall. Consequently, we have plaster over
gypsum board rather than lathe. This makes the walls about 1.25"
thick and solid as rock, and the plaster is really stable-- it
doesn't chip easily at all, and when I need to cut it the only method
that works is lots of handwork with a drywall saw (or a sawzall).
Anyway, we hang pictures just as we did with drywall, i.e. on a
simple finish nail. The previous owners nailed crap up all over, must
have been over 40 nail holes in one of the bedrooms when we moved in.
No problems at all hanging light stuff with small nails, and larger
things we've either nailed into studs (40+ lb mirrors) or used toggle
Don't be afraid of plaster. It's far superior to drywall IMHO, and
looks better too. You just don't want to have to cut it or make
repairs too often.
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