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What kind of nails should you use for hanging pictures?

Living room with pictures on the wall

Art on the wall is the finishing touch every home needs, and its important to use the right nails to put them up, so they stay up!

There are so many different kinds of frames used to hold art, and as well as many types of walls. From a metal frame with glass interior, to a wooden frame holding a canvas board, you want to get the right nails to hold them. Some art may need additional hardware added to the back in order to hang it on the wall, and depending on the surface you are installing it on, and the weight of the frame, may require additional supports.

Ultimately, you want a secure, properly aligned, and level piece of artwork that will make your home feel cozy, and uniquely you. I myself, and I think many others, have had frustrating experiences trying to put up artwork, only to have to redo it all over again. To avoid this headache, follow our simple guide to the right nails, including a ste-by-step process to take you from start to finish, so you can enjoy showcasing your beautiful artwork.

Types of Nails to Use

1. Finishing Nails

A single 1 1/2-inch (4d) or 2-inch (6d) finishing nail will support most pictures, even when nailing between studs. The trick is to drive the nail into the wall at a steep angle, at least 45 degrees. That will provide much greater holding power than tapping the nail straight into the wall.

Hillman 592301 Polished Finishing Nails (6D x 2") - 60 Pieces, Silver

2. Hammer Drive Nail in Anchor

CONFAST Hammer Drive Nail in Anchor is specifically designed for use in concrete, block, and brick. To install, predrill a ¼-inch hole (between ¾ of an inch and 1¼ inches deep) into the masonry surface, insert the anchor into the hole, then drive the nail into the anchor. It provides a secure, permanent mounting point for pictures and artwork up to 450 pounds, depending on the specific wall material and condition.

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This anchor installs faster and with a smaller pre-drilled hole than many other masonry anchors. Drilling masonry requires a carbide-tip bit attached to a hammer drill. But, beware: once installed, this anchor cannot be removed without damaging the wall. The package includes 100 anchors and nails.

CONFAST 1/4" x 3" Hammer Drive Nail in Anchor (100 per Box)

Nails vs. Screws

The first defining decision will be between nails and screws. A nail has a smooth surface on its body, while a screw has raised helical thread running around it and a slotted head, used to join things together by being rotated so that it pierces wood or other material and is held tightly in place. Usually, screws are used to hold heavier items and screw things into a wall that need to be tightly fastened.

Weight

When you want extra support, a wall anchor can be used with a screw, which is a plastic piece that secures it even more firmly into the wall. However, for most artwork of a smaller size and weight, traditional finishing nail can be used: they’re easier to install, and do a little less damage to the wall than a screw. All you need is the nail and a hammer, plus your level. You can either apply the frame hanging directly to the nail, or purchase a hanger pack, which will include small metal hangers that are designed specifically for the job. This pack will also include all the pieces you would need to fasten the attachments to the art directly, if it doesn’t already have it. There are pieces that require three small finishing nails to install, creating a stronger hold. Then, for larger pieces, especially those that are framed with glass(that could smash if it fell), you want to use screws. This means you need to find the stud in your wall, and then drill, install an anchor, then screw. We will get into the details of this process later in the article, but this option will hold up even the heaviest of artworks.

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Mr. Pen- Picture Hanging Kit, 220pc, Picture Hangers, Nails for Hanging Pictures, Wall Hangers, Picture Hanging, Picture Hanging Hooks, Frame Hanging Hardware, Picture Hooks, Wall Hanging Kit

Source: Amazon

Type of Wall

Depending on the type of wall you are putting your artwork on, you will use a different process and materials. Usually for a drywall, a simple nail is easy to install with a hammer. Although for some drywall, you will still want to use an anchor and screw if the piece is on the heavier side. For masonry, it’s not so simple. Unlike with drywall, you can’t just drill the screw straight in because the tiles will crack, leaving you with an unwanted repair job. Besides that, the screw alone is not strong enough to make a hole in the tile. Ceramic tiles are manufactured rocks and as such require special tools to drill through without breaking. Simply stated, you have to pre-drill the hole using a few tricks to get the job done. For this, you will need a variable speed drill and a new carbide-tipped tile bit. Again, you can find out more about this process later in the article. For a brick wall, a screw is the piece you want, and similarly, you will need a variable speed drill. For all projects, using more than one nail or screw will distribute the weight across the wall and different points, making your hanging much more secure.

So, after deciding based on the weight of your artwork and the type of wall you’re installing it on whether you’re using a screw or a nail, you can start the step-by-step process of getting that beauty up on the wall!

Materials Needed:

Finishing Nails, Screws with Anchors, or Hammer Drive Nail in Anchor

  • Hanger Pack
  • Hammer
  • Masking Tape
  • Pencil
  • Variable Speed Drill
  • Beautiful Art!
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Step By Step Instructions:

 

Step 1: Pick your placement

Choosing where art will go in your home can be tricky, but ultimately you have to go by feel and taste. Some people like to create an entire wall filled with mismatched frames, while others like to keep it simple and feature one piece on a wall. There’s no wrong decision, but once you do figure out what you want to do, you should take some time to map out your placements with masking tape. If you want to get really precise, you can measure the dimensions of your pieces, then accordingly measure the tape, and with a right angle create the corners. An alternative method is to simply use a pencil, and mark out the top line of the frame: you can use this to break down into increments of how many securing points you will use. For example, if using one nail, you would simply half the length of the frame to mark the spot for the nail.

Step 2: Level your placement

Whether you’ve drawn a line or used tape, now you can use a level to see whether it will be wonky, or just right. If the level equalized at the centre (the bubble will sit at 0), you have it right! If not, make adjustments of your line so it is.

CRAFTSMAN Torpedo Level, 9-Inch (CMHT82390)

Step 3: Install the Picture Wire or Sawtooth Bar

Using your hanger pack, use the wire, nails, and small screws provided. You will have to drill small holes into the back of the frame, at two opposite edges of the top or middle of the frame, giving enough space that when the wire is lifted by hanging it, it doesn’t pull above the frame(showing something you’d rather leave behind it!). The wire can be tied or twisted onto the hooks on the end of these screws, you want it to be fairly taught, but with enough give that when it hangs on the nail it drapes over it slightly. Alternatively, you can install a sawtooth bar on the back of the frame, which could be one centred in the middle, or two distributed evenly across the back. These similarly need holes drilled, to be screwed into the frame.

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EesTeck 50 Pack Small Sawtooth Picture Hangers Steel Picture Hanging Picture Frames Hangers with Screws Picture Hang Solutions, for Hanging Clock Paintings Artwork Picture Frame Hook Photos (Black)

Step 4: Hammer or Drill

So, now depending on your decisions around weight and type of wall, you want to get started hammering or drilling. If hammering, it is pretty simple: one tip to the wise, hammer the nail at a forty five degree angle against the wall, facing upwards. This gives it a lot more resistance to weight. If using a screw, the next step is to use your drill to create a hole smaller than the size of your screw. Place the plastic anchor into the hole, and hammer it in, then start twisting in the screw, using either a drill on a slow speed, or a screwdriver.

DEWALT Corded Drill, 8.0-Amp, 3/8-Inch, Variable Speed Reversible, Mid-Handle Grip (DWD115K )

Step 5: Place your Art

Now it’s time to place your art on the wall! Go gently, and make any slight adjustments if it’s on a wire in order to get it level and straight. Everything should be level if you did all of the first steps!

Finally, it’s time to invite some people over, or in the case of pandemic times, host a zoom party, and show off that artwork in your background. Some people put up a piece of art, and leave it there for many years to come. Some on their other hand, like myself, are constantly shifting things around and making decor updates. It can be really fun, and a great way to update your space without doing any major renovations. Artwork, family photos, or even diplomas hung on the wall really create the ambiance of the place. Knowing how to properly install them with the right tools and materials sets you up to be able to do minimal damage to the wall, so when you want to change or move things, you can easily cover over those holes with a little plaster and paint, and have a home-makeover for free!

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