Hanging up pictures for DIY beginner
April 27, 2014 10:30 AM   Subscribe

My first attempt at hanging a picture in my new flat resulted in a hole in the wall where the screw should be. What's the best way to hanging my pictures securely?

I recently moved into a new flat and I have a number of framed pictures to hang on the walls, ranging from smaller than an A4 sheet of paper to a few feet high. I don't have any sort of DIY experience and I've never hung a picture myself before.

Yesterday, I went to the hardware store to get started, and the person I spoke to suggested I purchase Redi Drives - these little fixtures you put into the wall and then put the screw into. They look like this. The person at the store told me I could use a screwdriver to insert the fixture into the wall, and insert the screw into the fixture.

So today I tried to do that, and the fixture wouldn't stay wedged into the wall - I was left with a hole in the wall with just a crumbling mess inside it, which obviously would not hold the fixture. A few paint chips also flecked off around the hole. I stopped trying to insert the fixture when I noticed the back of a screw inside the hole - there must be a screw attached somewhere within the wall at that point. Here's a picture of the hole.

I'm not sure whether the fact that there was a screw in that place already was what caused this and I was just unlucky with the placement, or if these walls are just unsuitable for this type of screw. I went out and bought some filler and patched up the wall, but I'd still like to hang the pictures. What do you think would work best here? I'm completely new to all of this so any advice would be sincerely appreciated.

More background: it's a rented flat, and the letting agent has told me it's OK to hang pictures up. There are also a few nails/screws already in the walls, left by the previous tenants, and they seem very secure. One is just a nail by itself, but the others seem to have a plastic doohickey flush against the wall that the nail is sitting inside (from Googling it looks like these are nail plugs). The plastic nail plugs are much smaller than the Redi Drives, and since it's a rental smaller would be better here.
posted by Put the kettle on to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You could try using a big magnet to try and find other screws before you try to drill in your Redi Drive. In my limited experience, your standard plaster wall is not chock-full of treacherous pieces of metal.

Conversely, depending on materials available at the time, the quality of plaster could be quite variable. Maybe you just hit a crumbly patch?
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:40 AM on April 27, 2014

I have had great results with this product. I've really busted up a few walls in my day and these strips worked miracles for me.
posted by mzwz at 10:53 AM on April 27, 2014

Seconding mzwz. 3M brand Command Strips are really nice and easy to use. We use them all the time.

Note: they are waaaaay less economical compared to nails but the convenience is worth it in my opinion.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:58 AM on April 27, 2014

Response by poster: mzwz and Doleful Creature, I've used the Command strips + hooks to hang up calendars and I've found them to work really well. But I've read mixed reviews of the picture strips, with some people saying they fall down eventually. I would love to try them since I'm much more comfortable with this sort of thing than with drilling holes in walls, but I'm nervous about using them with the heavier pictures or pictures hanging over beds in case they fall and the glass breaks. Do you think it's worth a try?
posted by Put the kettle on at 11:09 AM on April 27, 2014

Get some Ooks and some 3M blue tape at the hardware store. The tape goes on the wall first so the paint and plaster don't spall, and then the hardened Ook nail just hammers in through the tape.
posted by nicwolff at 11:26 AM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Currently I have them hanging up a set of wood-framed mirrors and they are extremely sturdy. I used two per plaque and they are on a wall right by my front door which gets slammed shut numerous times per day. I have had them up for about two months now. I read that heat/humidity can affect them, but I haven't had the chance to test them in those conditions yet. I don't expect them to fail. I was literally just pulling and pushing on the frames with a decent amount of force and they didn't budge.
posted by mzwz at 11:30 AM on April 27, 2014

I don’t if you have Monkey Hooks over there, but they’re pretty easy to use.
posted by bongo_x at 11:40 AM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

For sensitive, kind of crumbly walls, I use plastic wall anchors. You can get them in boxes with the matching screws. On the side of the box, it will tell you the right size drill bit to use. Drill the hole, tap in the plastic anchor with a hammer and then add the screw. It will expand the plastic anchor enough to stabilize things without chewing up the wall the way Redi Drives will.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:44 AM on April 27, 2014

The thing you want looks like this.

Here's a different version.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:04 PM on April 27, 2014

The hardware store gave you bad advice. My family has always used basic picture hangers like these, where you tap a tiny (provided) nail into the wall through a little bracket. They barely do any damage to the wall, they're incredibly secure, and they're easy to remove. Scroll down on that page to see how the picture hanger sizes scale to hold heaver frames; for the largest frames, with a picture-hanging wire on the back, you can even use a couple of the largest picture hangers, evenly spaced, to make sure they hold. Go to any big-box hardware store like Lowe's or The Home Depot and you'll be able to find multipacks of these.
posted by limeonaire at 1:25 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding limeonaire's picture hangers. Also, if you find you're cracking the drywall/plaster as you hammer, putting a piece of masking tape or painters tape between the wall and the hanger will usually address that.
posted by softlord at 4:10 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

As someone who has recently bought a house, I have found a lot of help doing things like this over at YouTube. Some of the tutorials are great; you can see technique and just what it's supposed to look like.
posted by NoraCharles at 4:30 PM on April 27, 2014

The "plastic doohickey" is a drywall anchor, with a drywall screw inside of it. They come in both plastic and metal are very secure in plaster walls as well. At Lowe's.
posted by amaire at 5:15 PM on April 27, 2014

Thirding limeonaire's suggestion. We've hung up lots of pictures, on drywall and plaster. Those are sturdy and easy to repair.

You don't need the heavy anchors unless you have a really heavy load. We use the product your hardware store recommended to hang a grow light for the orchids and a heavy duty coat hook.
posted by ethidda at 5:15 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don’t if you have Monkey Hooks over there, but they’re pretty easy to use.
Seconding these. They can be installed by hand and only leave a small pinhole.
posted by soelo at 8:22 AM on April 28, 2014

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