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What's In A Wall?

Posted by Greta Braddock on Dec 02, 2016

You’ve received your beautiful custom framed piece of art back in the mail from Simply Framed. Now what? We’ve partnered up with Jay Sacher, illustrator of the must-have book, How To Hang A Picture and Other Essential Lessons for the Stylish Homefor a monthly how-to series on hanging your artwork. Penned by author Suzanne LaGasa, the book spills all the instructions, tips and tricks to make you a hanging pro (plus, you get to enjoy Jay's incredible illustrations). Framing—and hanging—have never been easier!

We've already briefed you on the importance of the 57-inch rule, home hanging tips and how to build a gallery wall. But even if you're armed with a solid plan for where you'll hang your custom-framed art in your home—and our trademark Tool Kit—you might still encounter some unforeseen technical difficulties when it comes time to actually hammer that nail in.

Not all walls are created equal, and knowing whether you have drywall or antique lath-and-plaster in your home will alter your picture hanging approach. To determine which type of wall you are working with, feel it. Drywall is exceedingly smooth, while plaster has more texture. If you are still unsure, stick a thumbtack into the wall in an obscured location. Goes in easily? Drywall. Meets resistance? Plaster.


It's what's inside that counts. The inner workings of drywall (left) and lath-and-plaster (right) construction.

Drywall
Drywall can vary in thickness and in strength. There is no set rule for how much weight it can bear. Not putting a giant hole in your drywall depends a lot on the type of hanger you use, from standard picture-frame hangers to threaded drywall anchors and toggles. A trip to the hardware store will help you determine the best option for the weight of your artwork.

Plaster
Anyone who's ever hung art on a plaster wall has experienced worry that the wall could just crumble away at any moment. Think of 20 pounds as the maximum weight of artwork to hang on a plaster wall. Measure carefully before hanging so you do not have to insert multiple nails into the wall. And instead of one large hanger, use multiple hangers across the wall to evenly distribute the weight. Large bolts could potentially damage the lath, the foundation of wood that plaster is built on.

A large-scale piece of art may require multiple hangers to distribute the picture's weight evenly across the wall. Art, photo and bar cart styling by @hapiart.


This vintage nautical sign is hung across multiple studs for an even distribution of weight. Chelsea and Noah DeLorme, Freeport, ME.

Studs
Hanging something from a stud on either plaster or drywall will add a great deal more security. But unless you artwork is seriously hefty—or you're hanging shelving or a media unit—hanging off of studs is probably unnecessary. Instead, use multiple fasteners hung across the width of a picture for even weight distribution. Or, try wall rails or french cleats, constructed pieces of wood affixed to the wall that help evenly balance a picture's weight.

A wall rail is affixed to studs, so that the nails in the center of the wood holding the picture reap the benefits of extra support.

Brick or concrete walls
Once you make a hole in a brick or concrete wall, it will be there forever—so make sure to measure and check your art placement twice. Once again, successfully hanging on this surface is all about having the right tools. There are picture hanging clips specifically designed for brick walls. For concrete, you will need to use a hammer drill to make a pilot hole in the wall, and then hang your piece with either a hammer-in cement anchor or a concrete screw. All items can be easily procured at your local hardware store.

What's better than a beautiful brick wall? Beautiful artwork on a brick wall. Sasha Ritter and Kristin Morrison, Brooklyn, NY.

A large-scale piece of art successfully hung on brick wall in Light Lab's LA Studio. Art by Sarah Sherman Samuel, photo by @citysage.


More white brick for the win: art from Luckey Remington, Kristin Texeira, and RF Alvarez, represented by Uprise Art.

Remember, if you do mess up (on drywall or plaster anyway) it's likely nothing that a little bit of spackle can't fix. And protecting yourself is more important than protecting the wall. Always wear safety goggles when drilling. If this all seems a bit daunting—never fear! We'll discuss other options for hanging artwork that don't require any handyperson skills whatsoever—stay tuned.

Still need something to hang on that drywall, plaster or concrete wall of yours? Head over to Simply Framed to get framing. And get your hands on the book How To Hang A Picture and Other Essential Lessons for the Stylish Home when you order our Gallery Wall Gift Set.

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