How to pick the right thing to hang that other thing on your wall
hanging pictures class


Anchors a-weigh?! Depends on what you’re hanging.

Don’t forget, if you want face-to-face instruction on hanging things on walls, sign up for our class. Coming up on Saturday, March 26, 2022:10 AM – 12 PM in Chicago!

In the meantime, let me tell you how many things I have hung on the walls. From my halcyon days pockmarking my parents’ drywall in my bedroom with thumbtacks as I hung countless posters of teenage heartthrobs, unicorns, and my giant plastic purple watch (the late ’80s were a miraculous time…) to today when I try to think about what won’t damage the weird wooden paneled built-ins in my living room as I attempt to hang the kids’ stockings.

Paneled built-ins in my living room. WOW.

I’ve come a long way, baby.

There’s always the right tool for the job, and the best way I’ve found to identify it is with this checklist:
• Where am I hanging _____?
• How heavy is it?
• How permanent do I want it to be?

Those three things will help determine the right fastener for the job. Let’s say you’re hanging the fancy family photos of your sweet puppy that you’ve mounted on canvas and want to stick in your stairwell (who? me?). Well, what’s the wall made of? Is it plaster or drywall? Here’s a quick way to find out: try to push a thumbtack into the wall. Does it go in? Drywall. Does it absolutely not? Plaster.

Some homes are made with both (hooray!), some are one or the other. Let’s say, for this example, your stairwell is drywall. Your canvas picture is light, so you don’t think you need something too heavy-duty. You’ll leave it up forever, so permanence isn’t an issue.

It’s a light canvas picture, so you won’t likely need a wall anchor (more on those in a bit), just a straightforward fastener like these below.

Different types of wall hanger thingers.

The nice thing about this is that if you ever do need to pull it out, it will leave a small nail hole that’s easy to patch (which you can learn to do in this class). If you want something really temporary, you can use a Command Strip that’s rated for the weight of what you’re hanging. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m special, but those don’t last too long on my walls. I use them primarily for holiday decor and posters in my kids’ rooms, but some people swear by them.

If you’re hanging things that are heavier on a wall that’s made of drywall, and it doesn’t need to be in a specific place, you need to look for a stud in the wall so you can securely insert a screw to mount the thing you’re trying to hang. If you need to hang your item on the wall in a place where there are no studs, you will need some kind of anchor. Again, this is on drywall. Plaster is a very different story.

Anchors are so varied and rated for different applications that you will need to go back to that checklist and answer those questions. You should take that information to the hardware store and find what you need. Ask an employee for help. You’d say, “I want to hang this antique mirror in my drywall. It weighs at least 20 pounds, and I’m never moving it.” Right this way, friend. I have the anchor for you.

Before too long, you’ll know exactly how to find the right product for the job and hang your things like a PRO! You’ll say things like, “I need to pick up a French cleat with some toggle bolts to hang that upholstered bed frame I made! Don’t wait up.” (Scroll to the bottom for the big reveal.)

Remember, if you get confused, ask for help, and remember your checklist! You’ll be good to go!


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