How to Hang Heavy Items


Before you can hang a heavy painting, mirror, shelf or flat television on a plaster, drywall, sheet rock or lath wall, you must locate a supporting structure behind the wall to bolt into. Simply drilling a screw into the plaster will result in a torn wall and a broken object. Though ways of locating wall studs range from tapping to drilling test holes, one of the most reliable ways is to use an electronic or magnetic stud finder.

Things You'll Need

  • Stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Drill and bits
  • Eye bolts
  • Move the stud finder over the surface of the wall in the general area where you want to hang the heavy object. When the stud finder finds a metal nail, either the magnet will react or the finder will beep, depending on what type of stud finder it is. Mark the spot with a pencil.

  • Run the tape measure 16 inches horizontally from the mark. The standard space between wall studs is 16 inches, though sometimes it's 24 inches. If you don't find another stud at 16, keep moving out until you do. Mark that spot as well.

  • Use the level to draw a line between to two marks. The bubble on the gauge in the center of the level should come to rest exactly between the two lines. Mark the horizontal line between the studs along the top edge of the level.

  • Drill into the wall at the marks with the drill and a small bit. If you keep feeling resistance after 1/2 inch, you've hit the stud. Back the bit out, insert a bit the same width as your eye bolt and drill deep into the stud. Back the bit out, and screw in the eye bolt. Repeat this step on the other mark, and you're ready to hang your heavy item safely.

Tips & Warnings

  • Occasionally, your stud finder will give a "false positive" and indicate a stud that's actually a metal water pipe. Be prepared to back out your test drill bit quickly if you hear the screech of metal on metal.

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