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DIY Fixes for Your Apartment: How to Hang Heavy Objects on Your Walls

By Rebecca Ngu | July 18, 2016 11:13am
 Understand the composition of your wall (either drywall, plaster or masonry) before trying to hang something.
Understand the composition of your wall (either drywall, plaster or masonry) before trying to hang something.
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MANHATTAN — When it comes to putting heavy things on your walls without ruining them, it helps to understand different hanging techniques.

DNAinfo talked to hardware expert Nathaniel Garber, owner of Garber Hardware — a West Village shop, family-run since 1884 — to get the most tried-and-true advice.

The kind of anchor system you use for hanging depends primarily on the type of wall and the weight of your object. So firstly, figure out what kind of wall you have — drywall, plaster, or masonry.

Here are techniques that feature the cleanest installation and most effective load-bearing capacity:

For drywall/sheetrock

Drywall consists of crushed gypsum plaster sandwiched by cardboard paneling and is generally a half-inch thick. Therefore, unless you’ve found a stud — a vertical beam that's part of the apartment’s internal structure — you’ll hang your object onto a hollow and relatively weak wall and will need to account for this.

If your object is relatively lightweight — around 10 pounds or less — Garber recommended going with a traditional screw-and-hook to get the job done.

Although wall plugs — hollow fasteners, often plastic, that expand when a screw is threaded into them — are popular options, he said they should not be used on drywall, since that material is soft and can't securely hold the plug.

Instead, for light-duty objects between 10 and 20 pounds, Garber recommended using a threaded drywall anchor, known by brand name E-Z Ancor.

The best part of this anchor is that it is “self-drilling": no power tools required. You only need a screwdriver and screw (sometimes a hammer to tap it in), so installation is a quick, clean process.

Place the threaded anchor at the desired location and screw it until the head is flush with the wall.


EZ Ancor

Credit: The Home Depot/Buildex E-Z Ancor

For hanging heavier items around 25 to 50 pounds such as bike racks, bookcases, TV’s, cabinetry, and heavy artwork or mirrors on drywall, Garber recommended going with a snap toggle. Snap toggles are a type of toggle bolt — a heavy-duty hollow wall fastener — that is reusable, leaves less damage to the wall, and is more secure than standard toggles.

“I swear by these things," Garber said. "We sell them all day long."

Check out the video below to see how they're installed.


For plaster walls

Plaster walls, while also hollow, are generally thicker and denser than drywall, so they require more heavy-duty tools to secure objects. Snap toggles, described above, also work for plaster walls.

Molly bolts are another popular kind of toggle for plaster walls, combining strength with ease of installation. View the video below to see how to properly install them.


For masonry walls

Solid walls made of materials like brick, concrete, tile, etc. require a different hanging technique.

For lighter objects up to about 10 pounds, Garber recommended using a plastic wall plug. The force expansion at work in wall plugs is effective with masonry walls because the integrity of the wall is strong enough to handle the pressure.

Since masonry walls are extremely hard, it's important to use a powerful drill with a hammer setting and correct masonry drill bits. Make sure that the size of the masonry bit matches the size of the wall plug, which itself should match with the object's screw. 

Plan on undergoing multiple drilling attempts, gradually expanding the diameter until it's the proper size, as drilling a perfect hole in one shot is difficult. If the drill bit gets hot, dip it in some cool water. 

Once the hole is properly drilled, insert the plastic wall plug and then thread the metal screw inside. The plug should expand as the metal screw is drilled further in, leading to a secure hold. 

For heavier objects, typically over 25 pounds, you should use lead wall plugs. They work the same as plastic ones, but are stronger and less likely to break, especially with masonry material.

When in doubt, Garber recommended going with lead, as a little more security never hurts.


Masonry bits

Credit: Shutterstock


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