Posted on August 11, 2021 by Michael Malone
While we created a comprehensive guide to hanging art, there are still a few questions that remain unanswered. Wait, there’s still more? Yes, but just a few final questions that will help you to hang any piece of art on any type of wall. For example, can I hang art on a brick wall? Do I always need to find the wall stud? What tools will I need? We’ll set out to answer these questions and more in this segment of our Art 101 series.
Regardless of the scale of your wall hanging project, there are a few tools that you simply cannot do without:
That’s right. Chances are you already have these tools in your kit, and they’re all you’ll need for the vast majority of hanging projects. And that’s because the vast majority of art will be hung on drywall. So without further ado…
Over ninety percent of interior walls are constructed using drywall, so chances are high that this is the wall material you’ll be working with. And that’s a good thing because when it comes to hanging art, drywall is a very friendly surface. All you’ll need is the tools listed above and a common art hanger. And unless you’re hanging something really heavy – like 100 pounds heavy – you don’t even need to find the stud. Simply purchase hangers that are rated for the weight of your art, make your measurements, and gently hammer your hanger & nail into the wall. It really is that easy. And if you happen to make a mistake and find yourself with unwanted holes in the wall, all you’ll need is a little spackle and paint to clear things up.
Hanging pictures on drywall is a straightforward project that can be tackled by anyone comfortable with a hammer and nail. And in the event a mistake is made, the cost of fixing that mistake is small. So if you have drywall throughout your home, go ahead and get those pictures hung!
Brick is a trickier substance to work with than drywall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hang your art on it with relative ease. There are two elements to a brick wall: the brick itself and the mortar that holds the bricks together. Both are suitable for hanging art on, but mortar tends to be more user-friendly and it’s much easier to patch should your art ever be removed from the wall. In order to get started, I recommend a 1/8-inch masonry bit that you’ll use to drill a hole in the mortar or brick. From there, get a masonry screw of the same thickness (or very slightly thicker, preferably) and screw it into the hole. (And I recommend also using a masonry anchor or sleeve if you’re drilling directly into the brick.) And that’s it.
Hanging art on a brick wall will likely send many people to the hardware store for a masonry drill bit and the appropriate hardware, but this is still a DIY project for those comfortable using a drill. Do be careful with your measurements as you’ll want to get it right the first time.
Common in older homes, plaster makes for an attractive surface but it too is more difficult to work with than drywall. Not that you can’t hang art on plaster walls – or that you shouldn’t do it on your own – but you will want to exercise more caution as plaster tends to be brittle and is, therefore, more susceptible to cracking or breaking. Try to avoid using a hammer and nail. I recommend using a drill and a small bit to create a hole in the plaster as it significantly reduces the risk of damage to your wall. Once you’ve created your hole, use a screw that’s suitable for plaster and carefully screw it into the hole you’ve drilled. You can actually find plaster screws that are made specifically for art, and they make for a particularly fine solution. I’d also caution that plaster walls don’t support as much weight as drywall. To be on the safe side, I recommend locating a wall stud if the piece you’ll be hanging on plaster exceeds 20 pounds or so. If you’re still worried, go ahead and test the screw with your finger. If it doesn’t feel secure after giving it a tug, you may want to drill a new hole or try and find a stud. Alternatively, if you give the screw a pull and it feels properly anchored in the wall, feel free to hang your art without worry.
Similar to brick, hanging art on a plaster wall is doable for the DIY’er who’s comfortable handling a drill. Also like brick, you’ll want to be careful with your measurements as you only want to drill one hole.
Hanging art on a tile wall is possible, but it’s more challenging than most other surfaces. And there’s a chance you’ll sacrifice a tile or two in the process. But if you have the perfect picture for your tile wall, follow these steps and you should be fine. To begin, take good care in measuring your location. Then measure two more times. Correcting a mistake with tile is not nearly as easy as it is with other wall surfaces. And if possible, make your hole in the mortar joint as opposed to the tile itself. Like with brick, the mortar is easier to work with than individual tiles. If you must make a hole directly in the tile, ceramic, terra cotta and porcelain tiles are all fine to drill through. (Be aware that glass tiles are likely to shatter if you attempt to drill a hole in them, so be sure to know what type of tile you’re about to drill into before you begin your project.) With that, once you’ve identified the perfect spot to hang your picture, use a diamond-head drill bit to drill your hole. You may need to spray a light mist of water while you’re working to prevent the bit from overheating. After drilling your hole, you’ll need a wall anchor to properly secure the screw. After gently screwing the screw into the anchor, you’re ready to hang your art.
Hanging art on tile is likely limited to more experienced DIY’er, but it is possible to do so. If you have any doubt about your ability to finish the project or the type of tile that you’re working with, it may make sense to call in a professional for help.
It all depends on the type of wall. But as a general rule, you only need to trouble yourself with drilling into the stud if what you’re hanging is heavy. Really heavy. As I mentioned above, if you’re working with drywall, you don’t need to bother looking for the stud unless you’re dealing with works that are approaching 100 pounds. (Although you will want to be sure that the hanger you’re using is rated for the weight of what you’ll be hanging.) Brick is similarly robust. And while plaster won’t support the same amount of weight, it is still adequate for weights up to 20 pounds or so.
If you do need to find a stud, the best way to do so is with a stud finder. They can easily be found at hardware stores or online, and the more basic versions are inexpensive. That being said, if you are working with art or picture frames that are approaching 100 pounds in weight or more, I’d encourage you to hire a professional installer for help. Particularly if the piece is of high personal or monetary value. As wall hangings get heavier, the margin for error is reduced, and the probability of damage to your art or your wall goes up. So in these cases, it can be well worth it to work with a pro.
Armed with the information above, you have what you need to hang any piece of art on any type of wall. And while some wall surfaces will require more skill than others, the vast majority of projects can be done by basically anyone with a basic set of tools. So no more excuses for those pictures sitting in the closet. Grab your tools and get those bare walls covered!