How to inexpensively hang posters?
October 13, 2009 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I have some posters that I would like to hang up, but they have been damaged through poor handling in the past. Are there inexpensive yet non-tacky (no pun intended) ways of hanging them up?

It seems like a shame to spend a lot of money to frame posters which are themselves damaged. And they'll probably get damaged further next time I move. On the other hand, I'd rather not turn my apartment into an overgrown dorm room by using thumb tacks or Blu-Tack to hang them up (which would, of course damage the artwork further). And I'm also tired at staring at bare walls.

One of the posters is 20 in × 27 in, and the other is 11 in × 17 in.

I would prefer to avoid solutions that require the use of fine motor control in a way that will result in irreversible damage if done incorrectly (such as gluing or cutting), or purchasing new tools. On the other hand, I guess this stuff is already damaged so it can't be that bad.

Another solution would be to simply cut off the damaged areas of the posters or place matting over them. If I went this route I would want to have a professional do it—does this make sense?

I live in Seattle. I would need to rent a car to get to Ikea, greatly increasing the cost of any Ikea options. I live conveniently near a Museum-Quality Framing store.

Bonus question: How I can quickly, inexpensively, and easily add some more decoration to the place? There are about a zillion options out there and trying to decide the optimal solution results in paralysis. I could start buying posters to support the small bands whose shows I see but it seems weird to have posters from bands I'm not fanatical about adorning the place.
posted by grouse to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You can dry mount posters and that will help to "fix" some of the damage that has been done and then attach either a wire to the back of the poster to hang it from the wall (and obscure the hanging fixture) or purchase a poster hanger that clips on to the top of the dry mounted poster and hang it from a nail.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:21 PM on October 13, 2009

Use skirt hangers. For very large posters, I imagine you can clip two side-by-side on the top and two on the bottom.
posted by kitkatcathy at 12:22 PM on October 13, 2009

I originally saw this as a means to hang a rice paper screen in a window, but it can certainly be adapted for posters --

Get two very thin dowels -- ideally flat, but square is okay too (as long as they're not round), both the same length -- and both just two inches or so longer than the top edge of the poster. Lay one dowel down, lay the top edge of the poster along the dowel, centering it so there's an equal amount of dowel sticking out on both sides. Then lay the other dowel on top, sandwiching the top edge of the poster between it and the first dowel, gluing that in place as well. You can do the same at the bottom edge to give it a tiny bit of weight so the bottom doesn't curl up.

Then all you have to do is tie a length of string to either end of the top dowels, tack up a single hook or nail and hang the poster from that string.

Most hardware stores sell thin dowels in various lengths, for pretty damn cheap.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:25 PM on October 13, 2009

Best answer: You can use binder clips like you would skirt hangers.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:26 PM on October 13, 2009

I've used 3M poster strips in the past to hang posters with great success. They don't damage the wall or the poster at all, and leave no residue.
posted by Solomon at 12:28 PM on October 13, 2009

I saw a "photo wall" idea online awhile back that involved stringing cable across a wall and hanging pictures from the cables using bulldog clips. You could do that, or just use the bulldog clips and secure those to the wall (if you can put holes in the walls, I think most of these clips will have holes in the handle part that you just run a nail through).

Painter's tape may also work, but test on some posterboard or something first. It's designed to be easily removed and not to mar walls.

Really, though, if you have enough emotional investment in these posters that you keep rehanging them, I would frame them (or find replacements and frame those). Even if they look like crap now, framing always seems to... soften the imperfections to a point where they seem almost quaint. Besides, each rip and tear tells a story if anyone asks about your decorations - "Oh yeah, that hole is from a crazed ex-roommate with a hole punch fetish!"

As far as cheap new decorations... get a plant?
posted by backseatpilot at 12:30 PM on October 13, 2009

Drymounting will further damage the pieces. If you want to preserve them, you'll want to have them linen-backed. Beyond that, poster hangers similar to binder clips and skirt hangers should be fine. Whatever looks the least dorm-y to you.
posted by rhizome at 12:42 PM on October 13, 2009

Frame shops are usually pretty good at repairing &/or concealing the damage. Or you could use the binder clip/push pin combo -- it looks pretty OK from a distance.
posted by spilon at 1:29 PM on October 13, 2009

Walmart has cheap frames that look pretty decent. I got one for my classroom for around $20.00.

You can get three 11x17 for $10.00.

I don't see any 20x27 frames, but if you're trimming ratty edges, maybe the 18x24 - set of 2 for $17.00 might work.

posted by NoraCharles at 1:54 PM on October 13, 2009

I had a very precious but very damaged poster framed, and the damage is hardly noticeable at all, plus it's not getting any more damaged because the paper itself is not supporting any of its own weight.

The damage was primarily permanent crease lines from being folded/rolled, and lots of tearing on the edges/corners where I had previously used those tacky squares and even, at one point, push pins. But all the damage to the edges is covered by the lip of the frame.

If you do go the framing route, make sure to specify that you don't want "archival-quality" framing, that you don't need extra-expensive glare-resistant glass, and so on.
posted by muddgirl at 3:20 PM on October 13, 2009

Response by poster: I got an enormous poster recently. They told me it was 3' × 5' but I think it is more like 4' × 6'. Getting this framed would cost a fortune but it's not worth it. Is there anywhere in Seattle that would sell me a single sheet of foamcore that is large enough?
posted by grouse at 8:11 AM on November 4, 2009

Response by poster: I ended up using small binder clips to hang up the stuff I don't want to frame. It looks fine. Possibly better than if I used foam board to mouhnt. Some tips:
  • Use two or three clips at the bottom to keep the poster flat.
  • Use a small nail and a washer to hold the binder clips into the wall.
  • Hanging up an enormous poster can be difficult since it's unwieldy to hold up the poster while you make the nail holes. If you measure to get around this problem, make sure you make the distance between the nail holes slightly smaller than the poster width by one binder clip width, so that the binder clips will be completely used to hold the poster, rather than just half of their width.
  • A spirit level is useful for making things level, as always.
  • I have read that it is a good idea to put some paper between the binder clip and the poster so that the clip won't rust onto the poster, although I haven't done this.

posted by grouse at 2:08 PM on December 5, 2009

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