How to Make Sure Your Artwork Won’t Fall Off the Wall: Selecting the Right Hanging Hardware

Heavy duty hanging hardware is designed to provide a more secure fixing to large or heavy pictures. They’re made of more robust metal and commonly have at least two if not three screw holes. They often require complementary hardware as well, such as:

  • the heavy duty hanger – looks like a flat steel plate with a a hanging loop at one end which is fixed to either side of the back of the picture frame. It’s often plated in brass and has at least two and often three holes to ensure a secure fixing should any one screw work loose. They can have usually have a D ring at one end, or a strap hanger with a square hanging loop. 
  • the heavy duty J hook  this is fixed to the wall and is the mate for the heavy duty hanger fixed to the frame. It provides the secure structure over which the D ring or loop is hung.

Hanging artwork in a home is more complicated than it sounds. This article should hopefully explain to you why you should use heavy duty picture hangers and how to attach them to a frame.

So, what exactly qualifies one as a “heavy” picture?

  • one which you wouldn’t think twice about trying to hang without an extra pair of hands.  The issue is not whether you can lift it. It’s about whether you have the strength and motor control in your upper body to execute a maneuver to hook it onto the wall on two sides, while holding it above your head.
  • one that you would struggle to hang by yourself because of size or weight then you ought to be thinking seriously about heavy duty hanging hardware.

Why use heavy duty hangers?
Hanging is basically as good as the weakest point within the apparatus and the level of tension placed on any weaknesses. Thus, in general it’s advisable not to use wire and d rings for very heavy pictures because it’s been known for the wire to create a lot of strain that in turns pulls a one screw D ring out of the back of the frame, and the picture comes crashing down.

Heavy duty hanging hardware prevents pictures falling off the wall. There’s no chain or wire involved which might unravel or pull out from the back of the frame. You are also not reliant on one screw on either side. Hanging hardware also prevents uneven frames.

Steel pins are not long enough nor are they strong enough to hold heavy weight pictures and should NOT be used, unless you want your picture to fall off the wall. Ideally you should aim to hang medium sized pictures where the stud frame is, but the chances are the location of the wall stud does not fit where you’d like to hang your picture.  To check their location you need to use a stud locator. If you live in an older house you might find that some of your original interior walls are made of lath and plaster and the rule for these is you absolutely must find the wall studs before you hang anything.

Domestic homes will always have exterior walls and load bearing walls which are suitable for hanging items which are a heavy weight. Brick, stone, or concrete walls are the best to hang a very large or very heavy picture. That’s because this type of wall can take the longer screw length which might be required to get a solid fix. If you’re hanging artwork in another sort of space you need to check what sort of wall it is. 

  • Banging on the wall often provides a good indication. If it sounds hollow then it’s an interior dry wall.
  • The other trick is to bang in a nail. If it’s easy to hammer in then chances are it’s a drywall. If it takes a lot more effort it’s probably a masonry wall. If it’s really difficult to impossible then it’s very likely you’ve hit concrete and only drills and screws (and a heavy duty electric drill) will work.  The same can be said for good quality exterior brickwork.
One further consideration is the decoration. If you think you might want to move paintings around, don’t use walls that are wall-papered.  It’s easy to fix holes in a painted plaster wall, but sorting out multiple large holes in nice wallpaper is a bit of a challenge. Good luck!

2 Comments

  1. Ohhh, hanging hardware. So many people do not follow these guidelines and end up with huge holes in the wall. My advice is to use a leveler, no matter what you are hanging. You think it is even, until you hang it and back away from it. Then you’ll move the nail a couple times through trial and error, and before you know it, you’ve got eight different holes in your wall.

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