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Thread: picture hanging on plaster walls

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    gERM is offline New Member
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    picture hanging on plaster walls

    How do you properly hang stuff on plaster walls? Drilling holes and/or hammering nails or tacks just makes a crumbling mess. I'd like to hang framed pictures, large mirrors, and even a large, heavy iron pot rack (to hang pots + pans), because I can't hang it from the ceiling... any tips?

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    handyandy is offline Handyman
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    Taken from http://www.stretcher.com/stories/990308m.cfm:
    "Plaster is a difficult material to hang stuff on. I have found plaster walls to vary dramatically in their ability to hold picture hangers. However, using #8 or #10 (at least a couple of inches long) hexhead screws through the plaster and into the lathe will give you great strength in most plaster walls. Of course, the strongest method is to install the screws into the wall studs, though the studs are seldom in the right place. A subcategory of Murphy's Law, I think.

    Start the screw hole with a drill bit smaller than the screw. Don't drill through the lathe, just start the hole so the screw grabs in the plaster. You can use a masonry bit, but I have found that regular bits will work in most plaster walls but will become dull. A regular bit will drill a cleaner hole than a masonry bit.

    You must test the screws for strength. Use a hammer or pair of pliers and exert steady downward force on the screw head, at least equal to the weight of the mirror. If the screw seems firmly attached, you are probably all right. Subjective judgement is all you have here!

    I always put a small metal washer on the screw before attaching it to the wall. Place the mirror's hanging wire between the washer and the wall. This will prevent the wire from "jumping" off the screw head. With a heavy object, it is sometimes difficult to get the wire between the washer and the wall... especially when working solo! When this happens... and if getting a helper is impossible... stabilize the washer using a small amount of hot melt glue, Goop, or adhesive caulk between the washer and the screw head, and let it dry. In a pinch, you could even use some of that tacky gum... I think it's called Fun Tack... that kids often use to hold papers and other light objects to their walls.

    If the plaster/lathe does not hold the screws well, you may have to install a strip of 1x3 1" pine or plywood between studs that will be hidden behind the mirror. Attach your hanging screws to the wood strip to locate the mirror. "

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    Troy is offline Moderator
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    Sounds like good advice. You have to use a masonry bit to get a small hole in the plaster. It is always advisable to find a stud if at all possible, especially for things like large mirrors and the iron pot rack. Use a screw long enough to reach the stud, and it will probably hold just about anything you put on it.

    I have also heard that it is a good idea to put some scotch tape around where your hole will go, and it will help keep the plaster together.

    I like the idea of using the washer, I'm going to try that next time. It should make it easier to hang.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!


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    gERM is offline New Member
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    wow, thanx for the info.

    I fear though that I might hit an electrical wire-- is there any way to tell before drilling where they might be? Are there common heights/depths wiring would normally be located? I'd think it would be safe anywhere above 2-3 ft, and not between lights, ceiling fans and outlets etc.

    Also, how do you find studs? These old houses don't follow the now standard spacing, and every electronic studfinder I've tried only works on drywall...

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    Guest is offline New Member
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    3m makes some great sticky hooks...You can find them at Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart....I use them on my plaster walls and they are great!

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    leone184 is offline Handyman
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    The last post is correct about the 3M hooks, they are called 3M Command. I have used them myself and they work well. Not only will they stick very tight, but the adhesive can be removed later.

    As far as the iron pot rack, I don't think they will work for this. (Or anything really heavy) The best bet is to find the studs. This can be difficult to do with plaster, even a stud finder will get confused due to the wooden lathe. A really good commercial stud finder (read: expensive) may work better, and some will also pick up wiring or plumbing. You may be able to rent one from a tool rental place. The stud finder may also be able to pick up the vertical row of nails that holds the lathe to the studs.

    leone184

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