I Have Many Hangups

    Here at the Old Hardware Store, we have lots of hangups. Not the psychological kind, but the wall and ceiling kind. One of the main things folks do to personalize and decorate their homes is to hang things up for decoration. Be it artwork, plants, clocks or whatever, there are many ways to hang things up on the walls and while there are many ways to hang things up, the most important thing is that they stay up.

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   The secret to making sure that things stay up is to figure out what the wall (or ceiling) is constructed of. If you can “hit” a stud, you can use regular nails or screws to fasten things up. The first problem with this is that unless you possess Superman type x-ray vision, the studs will be invisible inside the wall. They make two types of stud “finders’ to figure out where they are, Cheap magnetic ones that you can use to locate the nails that are in the studs and hence where the studs should be located. The other kind is a jazzy electronic type that uses ultrasonics to “see” through the wall and tell you where the studs (and other things that can be hiding there) are located. The second problem is that even if you can divine where they are, those pesky studs never seem to be where you need them. That leaves you with the common problem of mounting something to a hollow wall.

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   Say “wall anchor” to most people and they will usually picture those little plastic cones that you put in the wall and then put a screw into. We do sell those, but unless you are hanging something very light on a pristine piece of drywall, the usually won’t hold. In real plaster, or paneling they are about useless. My “go to” choice for these surfaces are “Mollys”. Mollys are expanding metal anchors that fit through a drilled hole in the wall and then are expanded behind the wall so they can’t come out. The screw then can be used to either mount your item to the wall, or to mount a metal hook to hang things on. The beauty of Mollys is that they come in several different sizes and shank lengths and thus can be matched to the weight of the item to be hung and the wall thickness. Wall thickness can vary quite a bit in an older home, Take a layer of horsehair plaster on wood lath (pretty thick already), and add to it a layer of repair drywall or paneling and you can have a pretty thick wall.

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   A newer type of better anchor is the screw-in type. These can be screwed in with a simple battery drill driver, and people say that they hold pretty good. They come in both plastic and metal types and as with most thing the metal ones are better, but more expensive.

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   The last type of hanger I will cover is the “toggle bolt”. These have a screw through the middle of two spring loaded wings. First you have to thread the screw through whatever you are mounting. Then drill a hole through the wall and fold the wings together and push them through the wall, where they spring open on the inside. Then tighten the screw to hold everything tight. These come in many sizes and are the best for mounting things like towel bars and grab rails, where folks might really put some strain on them. They will not pull out without taking a big chunk of the wall with them.

   So there you have it. As with most do-it-yourself projects the secret to success is in the hardware and here at The Old Hardware Store, we are the specialists in that.