Hanging art from the ceiling... ?
March 27, 2006 10:06 AM   Subscribe

I have several large paintings (5 x 5 or so) and am moving into a new apartment. I know from experience at my current apartment that I like to move stuff around and that I don't like holes in the walls. What's involved in hanging paintings from the ceiling like galleries often do?
posted by dobbs to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
If you don't like holes, you may want to try out the new 3M hanging stickies. I've successfully hung some pretty heavy stuff with them.

I've found them at Home Depot (and the like) over the years.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:09 AM on March 27, 2006

Thanks, thanotsopis, but I can't risk it. If they fall and canvas tears they're irreplaceable.

For clarification on my OP, I'm talking about hanging from chains or wires from the ceiling that can be altered in height for when I want to change the painting.
posted by dobbs at 10:31 AM on March 27, 2006

Galleries use a special crown or picture rail moulding that has a ledge you can hang a pair of hooks (and then cable to the painting) from. See also.

I've had terrible luck with those 3M removable stick on hooks. They won't stick to the 2 year old paint in our bedroom and everywhere else they damage the drywall when we remove them.
posted by Mitheral at 10:35 AM on March 27, 2006

It's either a hole in the wall or a hole in the ceiling. If you don't mind spending a few bucks you could also get something like an autopole and mount the art on the pole. If you wanted to be creative, you could make your own Portable Display Panel.
posted by JJ86 at 10:38 AM on March 27, 2006

You're looking for a "rail hanging system," of which many types are available online or in hardware or art supply stores. Basically you nail a rail to the wall or ceiling, and the pictures are suspended from it by wires; in theory you can rearrange pictures by just changing the wires out and/or sliding them along the rail.

FWIW I tried it once (don't remember what brand or type of system I used, sorry) and didn't like the results; the wires always had slight kinks in them from the way they were coiled in packaging, and the pictures tilted away from the wall a bit (as in the photos here.) It just looked a little odd.
posted by ook at 10:43 AM on March 27, 2006

Mitheral's right about the gallery hangings- at least, if you still intend to hang them against the wall. I worked at the Plains Art Museum for two years and often worked with the exhibition designers both installing traditional and non-traditional art.

Basically, what you have, is a piece of metal moulding that's screwed in an inch or so below the ceiling. This moulding has a groove in it, in which you can hook something (think grappling hook over the edge of a building, but precise and nice). From there you can change/shift all you want and never ever damage the walls of your new flat (beyond the initial installation). As a bonus, most people never notice the moulding is not original architecture. Especially when it is painted the same color as the walls.

The few times we did hang things from the ceiling, we had the advantage of actual track lighting and the associated mounts to work with. So we'd just rig something up to that.
posted by fake at 10:48 AM on March 27, 2006

You don't necessarily need to use wire. The system I installed in a straw bale house used monofilament fishing line. It's unstabilized nylon though so it won't work if exposed to UV.
posted by Mitheral at 10:58 AM on March 27, 2006

Does your new place have concrete ceilings? This may throw a wrench into your plans.
posted by acoutu at 11:11 AM on March 27, 2006

ook nailed it with that link. This is exactly what I'm looking for.

Now... anyone know where I can get that in Toronto?
posted by dobbs at 11:27 AM on March 27, 2006

Talk to your new apartment manager before you do anything. Many contracts specifically state that you cannot hang anything from the ceiling. Mine states that their may or may not be asbestos insulation in the ceiling, so putting holes into the ceiling and exposing myself to that would not be a wise idea. Their is also a clause in there to notify them of any tiny cracks in the ceiling so they can be taken care of ASAP.

Oh, and if you don't like holes in the walls, think of holes in the ceilings when you move stuff around all the time...even worse.

I'm guessing installing specific crown moulding might also be an issue. That's generally alot of nail holes in the walls that will need repairing. And again, that close to the ceiling, they may not like it.

So you may be left with lowering the height of your ceilings by a half foot or so by installing hooks into the walls and suspending them lower then you'd like. May not be what you are looking for.

Why don't you just by some wall repair compound down at walmart for like, $5? Fix the holes in the walls when you move the paintings. It'll take you all of 15 seconds of your life per hole. Problem Solved.
posted by Phynix at 11:27 AM on March 27, 2006

Oh, and if you don't like holes in the walls, think of holes in the ceilings when you move stuff around all the time...even worse.

That's the point of the system. You put in two holes one time and then can move the paintings on the rails as often as you wish, adjusting the placement of the cable as well as the height from the floor/ceiling.

In my current place, one of the walls is red. I've had 6 different paintings on that wall while living here, all different sizes. Filling the holes on a red wall is a pain in the ass.
posted by dobbs at 11:33 AM on March 27, 2006

Older apartments might have a wooden picture rail already installed. Maybe you'll be lucky, if you're going to rent an older place. (Our 1911 house had picture rails all around, next to the ceiling. We thought it was just molding, until I climbed up and saw the rounded edge with a space on top. We bought vintage picture hooks on eBay to hang all of my paintings and other things.)
posted by litlnemo at 6:20 PM on March 27, 2006

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