Tools & Tips: Wall Mounting Made Easy

From on June 04, 2008 in Tools and Tips

wall-hanging.jpgHow to properly mount something to your wall is an important trick to know. Improperly mounted items lead to broken glass or ceramics, damaged drywall, and can be dangerous. Taking the time to properly hang your picture frames, clocks, artwork, and even heavier objects is not difficult. In fact, it is safe and goes easy on your walls.

There are several different kinds of wall mounts, from ornate wall hooks to beefy mounting systems for televisions. Most commonly, people use wall hooks, whether it be for hanging coats or hanging pictures or art. For light to moderately heavy items, wall mounting is easy. If you are lucky enough to find a stud, then use by simply screwing your wall hook through the drywall and into the stud. Unfortunately, studs are often hard to come by so you will need a wall anchor.

There are three main types of wall anchors and choosing the correct one will depend on the weight of the object to be hung:

  1. For light loads, such as decorations and light pictures, you can use a basic, plastic wall anchor.

These look rather similar to screws but for the hole in them that holds the actual screw. To install a plastic wall anchor, simply drill a hole that is just a bit smaller than the wall anchor, gently tap the wall anchor in with a hammer, and screw a sheet-metal screw into the anchor. Note that when buying a wall mount kit, the anchor and corresponding screw are usually included, just be sure it can carry the load you want to impose on it.

  1. For medium weight wall hanging, use hollow wall anchors, or “Molly bolts.”

Molly bolts can be made from plastic or metal. They are very similar to plastic wall anchors except that hollow anchors flare out on the back side of the anchor when installed. This flare-out creates a wider base behind the drywall and better secures the load. To install a hollow wall anchor, drill a hole slightly larger than the size of the anchor. Insert the anchor into the wall and use one screwdriver to hold it in place while screwing in the screw with another. The screw will offer a bit of resistance until it breaks through and causes the anchor to flare out, thus holding the anchor firmly in place.

  1. The heaviest duty of wall anchors is the toggle bolt.

Toggle bolts have spring loaded metal wings that spread out flat on the backside of the drywall after the anchor has been inserted. This creates a wide and sturdy base for moderately heavy loads (coat racks, heavy art, pictures, etc.). To install, drill a hole that is barely large enough for the closed toggle bolt to fit through. You will want to remove the bolt and attach whatever mounting bracket or hardware necessary to hang your object before installing the anchor. You will not get the bolt back out without losing the anchor. Push the toggle wings closed and push it through the wall. When the wings have sprung on the back side of the wall then tighten the bolt and fixture and get to hanging.

Wall anchors are excellent for light shelving and decorative items. When you move into heavier items such as heavy shelving, televisions, stereos, and anything that has good weight to it, than you will need to find studs. The easiest way to accomplish that is with a stud finder or sensor, which you can find at your local home improvement store for about $12.

If a stud sensor is not available you will have to feel your way, usually by tacking a brad or other small nail through the drywall until you feel solid resistance behind. Studs are usually installed every 16” (in older homes it may be 24”) so once you’ve found one you can assume the others’ locations. Mounting systems will vary in design so follow the specific instructions. Just find studs and use them if at all possible—drywall will not hold up your plasma TV and properly mounting it is much, much cheaper than re-buying it.