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Drywall hanging in earthquake country
December 1, 2010 3:59 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to hang a 15 lb framed painting on drywall in an earthquake-proof way. Ideas?

I'd like to hang a 15 lb picture but there are no studs nearby, so I'll have to mount it on drywall. Any suggestions for a mounting setup that won't leave a large hole in the wall should a mild earthquake hit? Are two screws better than one larger screw in this case?

This previous AskMe was helpful. Perhaps molly bolts will work with something like an A-maze-ing picture hanger?
posted by benzenedream to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
With a molly, I'd be worried it could still pull through the wall, as the total area of expansion isn't much. I'd use a wide toggle bolt along with that picture hanger. Drill the hole in the drywall, push the screw part of the toggle bolt through the hole in the hanger, thread the toggle part onto the screw, and shove it through the hole. Then screw it down as usual.
posted by vorfeed at 4:06 PM on December 1, 2010


These drywall anchors are absolutely insane. In the past I've pulled on one with both feet pressing against the wall (read: hanging completely off the floor,) and they've held 180 lbs. easily. They even come with a metal plate to hold a framed picture.
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:07 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


And stay away from threaded toggle bolts. I've only ever had problems with the force of the screw twisting the cheap aluminum to bits.
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:09 PM on December 1, 2010


Without a stud I've been successful with anchor like InsanePenguin suggests and with MonkeyHooks. I really thought the MonkeyHooks were As Seen on TV gimmicks, but dammit, they hold up fairly well. My guess is if you are worried about your local seismometer going off regularly you should go for anchors.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:14 PM on December 1, 2010


I should mention that there is a difference between toggle bolts, which are essentially the old school version of what I linked, and threaded toggle bolts which screw into the wall and then are supposed to "toggle" open once in the wall but usually end up twisting themselves to bits.
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:24 PM on December 1, 2010


Fifteen pounds hanging on two thick-ish toggle bolts really isn't very much weight. I think you'll be fine. Note, though, that an earthquake could easily swing the painting from side to side, like a pendulum, knocking other paintings off the wall or smacking into delicate frames -- so, don't leave too much slack in the wire or hang something right next to it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:30 PM on December 1, 2010


15 pounds isn't all that heavy in terms of things I've hung on the wall in earthquake country. I'd buy a decent picture hanger rated for up to 50 pounds. You'll be fine.
posted by cecic at 4:32 PM on December 1, 2010


I should mention that there is a difference between toggle bolts, which are essentially the old school version of what I linked, and threaded toggle bolts which screw into the wall and then are supposed to "toggle" open once in the wall but usually end up twisting themselves to bits.

hm, I didn't know there was a difference. To clarify, by "toggle bolt" I meant these. They don't screw into the wall; instead, you drill a hole, close the wings and push them through, and then the wings pop open. Then you turn the screw until the wings hold tight against the inside of the drywall. I've never had any trouble with 'em.
posted by vorfeed at 4:58 PM on December 1, 2010


hm, I didn't know there was a difference. To clarify, by "toggle bolt" I meant these. They don't screw into the wall; instead, you drill a hole, close the wings and push them through, and then the wings pop open. Then you turn the screw until the wings hold tight against the inside of the drywall. I've never had any trouble with 'em.

Yup, I meant these. They are called "toggle anchors" but most places refer incorrectly to them as toggle bolts. What I linked earlier are essentially fancy toggle bolts.
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:03 PM on December 1, 2010


Yup, I meant these. They are called "toggle anchors" but most places refer incorrectly to them as toggle bolts. What I linked earlier are essentially fancy toggle bolts.

Ah, OK. Yes, those things suck. I have had luck with using these to attach light things to hollow-core doors, but I'd never use something like that for drywall.
posted by vorfeed at 5:32 PM on December 1, 2010


I would start by double-checking your assertion of "no studs nearby"... Even if you don't have a pair of studs right where you want the picture, you can mount a 1x4 between the two or three nearest ones and mount the picture to that (and for a tiny picture, you could use something like a spiffed up 1x16xWhatever and use it as a backdrop for the entire frame).

I have a house with really strange stud spacing in spots, and have used exactly that trick to hang, for example, a 60+ pound mirror in my front hallway. Not in an earthquake zone, but I suspect I could stand on the bottom edge of it and rock back and forth without much risk of it falling (I did test that the anchor-board could hold my full weight when I first hung it - Not even a protesting creak).
posted by pla at 6:21 PM on December 1, 2010


I've used those for drywall but never for anything over, like, 10 lbs.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:21 PM on December 1, 2010


Command Medium Picture Hanging Strips
posted by JayRwv at 6:27 PM on December 1, 2010


I used to work as a picture framer and have installed many frames in clients houses. 15 lbs. is not much weight, just about any drywall anchor will suffice. The key is not hanging from a wire, but by d-rings installed on the vertical rails. The difficulty in this is that your measurements have to be very percise , as to the distance between the center of the d-rings and level.
posted by Buckshot at 7:24 PM on December 1, 2010


I used to work as a picture framer and have installed many frames in clients houses. 15 lbs. is not much weight, just about any drywall anchor will suffice. The key is not hanging from a wire, but by d-rings installed on the vertical rails. The difficulty in this is that your measurements have to be very precise , as to the distance between the center of the d-rings and level.

Yep, this is how my friend who was a professional hanger at galleries hangs paintings. Two anchor points and d-rings. (This is in the Bay Area).
posted by oneirodynia at 9:41 PM on December 1, 2010


I'm going to vote with pla, except that I'd probably use baltic birch plywood instead of solid wood. Cut it whatever size you need to screw into two studs. Paint it to match or complement the wall. Then hang the picture on the plywood.
posted by Bruce H. at 11:32 PM on December 1, 2010


I ended up using snap toggle bolts -- the ones with a plastic guide and plastic side rails which snap off after moving the bolt cap down into the hole. Regular toggle bolts would leave larger holes in the drywall. It was pretty easy and seems secure enough! Thanks for all the help!
posted by benzenedream at 1:43 AM on January 2, 2011


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