How To Hang a Picture Frame

Hanging framed paintings and photographs on walls is one of the commonest home tasks. Yet, even a simple job like this can be intimidating to the lay person. Nothing could be simpler though. Go through these steps to hang your frame on the wall of your choice.

What You Will Need
* Drill Machine
* Appropriate masonry drill bits
* Fasteners with expansion plugs
* Spirit level

Step 1: Set the design or lay out.

Every wall has its own symmetry with light fixtures, dimensions, windows and so on. A picture frame must be placed appropriately and at the right height to look good. If more than one frame is to be hung then the overall harmony must be right or else the result will look terrible. There are no rules in doing this and much depends on judgement.
Step 2: Inspect Wall

Once you have decided on the placement of the frame, hold it by the wire or thread at the back of the frame and set the point where you will need to fix a screw on the wall. Hammering a nail into the wall to hold the frame is not a good idea given that it can often leading to unwanted cracks in the plaster. Check that the wall does not have a power line or water pipe running beneath the point where you would drill a hole. While stud and power line detectors are available, they tend to be expensive and it does not make sense for a casual DIY person to buy one. Just try to figure out if there is any likelihood of a power line running behind the drilling point. This is generally not very difficult to figure out. Another thing to check is if there is a concrete beam at the point where you want to drill a hole. It is pretty difficult to drill through concrete and not a good idea either. Drilling through concrete is possible but a hammer drill is required for this purpose as a normal drill cannot bore through concrete.

Step 3: Drill Hole 

I would strongly recommend using a nylon expansion plug to secure the screw which will hold your frame. These come in various sizes, types and prices. The locally manufactured ones are generally quite adequate for the job and are very affordable. Very good quality fasteners are made by Fischer and for heavier jobs I use them. All these plugs are capable of holding on tight to masonry walls once a screw is inserted into them and tightened. As the screw is tightened, the plugs expand and grip the interior wall of the hole drilled in the masonry.

Choose a drill bit size that matches the bore of the expansion plug. The bit should either be a multipurpose type or one intended for masonry. (For more details see my post on Using a Drill Machine) Hold your drill perpendicular to the wall and drill on. The depth of the hole should be slightly more than the length of the expansion plug. Also make sure that you have drilled deep enough and have reached brick behind the plaster. The plugs grip brick better, especially since many houses in India suffer from poor plaster quality and strength. In many houses, including mine, the plaster virtually disintegrates as the drill bores through and the resulting hole is usually larger than the diameter of the drill bit. 

Clean the drilled hole by blowing air and ensuring that loose sand or brick dust does not remain in the hole as this will impair the gripping capability of the plug. Now insert the screw and tighten till about a quarter of an inch remains sticking out of the wall. This would be the pivot on which you can now hang and align your frame either by sight or by using a spirit level.

14 February 2011