Important tips for hanging items on your walls

Attaching things to walls is essential to many DIY projects, from fitting shelves and curtain tracks to putting up mirrors or display cabinets. And, with the proper fixings and techniques, it's an easy task. Follow these important tips to avoid having what you hang fall — and the potentially serious consequences.

Important tips for hanging items on your walls

Assessing the job

The first step in putting things on walls is to discover what type of wall is involved, because wall type determines what you'll use to fix things to it.

  • Masonry walls sound solid when tapped. Many exterior walls and internal ground-floor walls are of this type.
  • Wood-framed internal partition walls and ceilings sound hollow, whether they are clad in drywall or lath and plaster.
  • Dry-lined masonry walls also sound hollow. This is because they have a layer of lath and plaster or drywall on a framework of lumber attached to the masonry, instead of solid plaster.
  • Wood-frame houses have dry-lined drywall walls throughout.
  • Cement stuccoed walls are made from brick or concrete block with a surfacing of cement on their face. They are cold and somewhat rough to the touch.
  • Asbestos cement (fibro) sheeting was commonly used as a cladding until the 1980s, when it was superseded by fibre cement. Asbestos cement is a health hazard and should not be worked on in any way.
  • If in doubt about whether or not any of your walls contain asbestos, consult a specialist contractor.

Partition walls and ceilings

You can make affix things to internal partition walls and ceilings in one of two ways.

  • Locate the wall studs or the ceiling joists, and screw through the lining into the solid wood of the studs or joist. To do this, you need to use an electronic stud detector, or make some test drillings through the lining.
  • If the stud or joist positions do not coincide with where you want to make your fixings, drill a hole in the lining and insert a cavity fixing device that will expand and grip the inner face of the lining. This device must be strong enough to support the weight of what you'll be loading onto it.

Masonry walls

For fixings in solid masonry, you have to drill a hole in the wall and insert a hollow plastic anchor that will grip a screw when one is driven into it.

  • To make a secure fixing, your plug and screw must penetrate the masonry to a minimum depth of 2.5 centimetres (1 inch).
  • On a cement stuccoed wall you need to make an allowance for the thickness of the top coat of drywall (up to 13 millimetres or 1/2 an inch in a modern house).
  • For heavy-duty loads your screw must penetrate up to 5 centimetres (2 inches), so use a 5 or 6 millimetre (2 or 2 3/8 inch) screw.
  • Heavy-duty hangers come in various sizes, with holes for as many as four pins. Choose a hanger based on the weight of the picture or mirror to be hung. Heavier items will require two hangers spaced about 25 centimetres (10 inches) apart.
  • To fix such a hanger, simply place it against your desired spot on the wall with the pins in position and gently tap them into the plasterboard. To remove, pull the pins upward with a slow twisting motion, using pliers.

Follow these important tips for hanging things on your walls and you'll have an even easier time making sure things stay on your walls once you put them there.

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