Hanging things from cement ceilings?
August 23, 2009 10:10 AM   Subscribe

How can I hang something from the ceiling of my apartment if the ceiling is cement?

I want to hang some paper lanterns in my apartment, but I live on the top floor so the ceiling isn't plaster--it's cement. I don't want to drill a hole with a drill because a.) my landlord would frown upon this and b.) can you even drill a pilot hole in cement?

I've tried command strip hooks and they've all fallen off within 12 or so hours of hanging. Maybe this is futile. Any ideas?
posted by goodbyebluemonday to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How big are the paper lanterns? Any chance you could hang them from cantilevers set into the walls?

posted by Thorzdad at 10:20 AM on August 23, 2009

For very lightweight fixtures such as paper lamps, a construction grade adhesive such as Liquid Nails will work. Clean the surface very well first.

There are two-part epoxies that will work just as well. Take a look at your local hardware store. They come in dual-tube syringe type applicators. No pre-mixing required. Check the label to see if it is concrete compatible.

If you have a moderately heavy load at all (maybe up to a kilogram, 2.2 lbs.), you'll need to drill a hole and use a concrete/masonry anchor. There are several types. The easiest to use are pre-assembled screw type that expand in the hole as you turn the screw.

For loads of over a couple of kilograms, you'll need heavier anchors, of course.

Yes, you can drill into concrete quite easily with a power drill and a masonry/concrete bit. It will make a fair amount of dust, and for overhead work, you need eye protection. If you do a lot of it, I recommend a filter mask as well.
posted by Xoebe at 10:30 AM on August 23, 2009

Yeah, I thought about this. But, unfortunately, they are spherical and roughly a foot in diameter at there widest point. The cantilevers would have to stick absurdly far into the room for this to work. Maybe the answer is buying smaller paper lanterns.
posted by goodbyebluemonday at 10:37 AM on August 23, 2009

run a wire with moderate tension from one wall to the other. hang lanterns on wire at will. if they are really light you could even use fishing line and the wire would be fairly invisible.

although honestly, i'm not sure drilling a small hole in the ceiling with a masonry bit in a regular (not rechargeable) drill might do less damage in the end.
posted by geos at 10:41 AM on August 23, 2009

I bet paper lanterns would stick with double-stick tape. My friend had a concrete ceiling in his loft, and they hung track lighting all over the place with just double-stick tape. Those strip hooks are a bad choice because they are designed to adhere when shearing force is applied, which if I follow is not how you are using them. Foam construction double-stick tape is surprisingly strong. I used it once to anchor a temporary wall to the ceiling. The wall didn't budge in the year I had it up.
posted by jeb at 12:07 PM on August 23, 2009

Epoxy or liquid nails will work, but good epoxy is going to do way more damage to the ceiling than drilling a hole would. Also, in my opinion, the easiest type of masonry anchor is Tapcon. They're just like screws, except they hold insanely well in most masonry.
posted by jeb at 12:09 PM on August 23, 2009

I'd drill the hole because it won't be much trouble to patch when you leave.

I've found the best way to anchor a screw in concrete is with a masonry bit, a little bigger than your screw diameter. Be patient if you hit a piece of stone aggregate. If you stop making any progress at all, you may have hit rebar and will need to start a fresh hole. Then get a piece of electrical wire with plastic coating and cut it to fit in the hole. For this method, those green anti-corrosion desk screws work well.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:25 PM on August 23, 2009

Very strong double sided tape, if you decide to go that route.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:37 PM on August 23, 2009

Seconding the Tapcon screws. Get the right length + width for the weight of the lanterns. Go slow on the drilling; the bit will get really hot, so every once in a while (usually a couple of times per hole for me) stop drilling and dip the bit in a cup of water to cool it off. You don't need a great drill to do it — my $30 No-Name does fine, it just takes longer.

Also, it goes much quicker when the drill is in forward gear. I learned that one the hard way.
posted by sixswitch at 3:19 PM on August 23, 2009

Personally, I'd try and avoid drilling holes into what may well be the roof of the building. I'm weird like that.

Just epoxy a nice little chandelier hook to the ceiling and leave it there permanently.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:25 PM on August 23, 2009

I hung a mosquito net (which was much heavier, and also got tugged on in the night) with this polyurethane glue. When I moved out, it was easy enough to chip off. Repainting was necessary.
posted by Nothing at 5:01 PM on August 23, 2009

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