A guide to hanging paintings, mirrors or flat TVs

The proper way to hang even the heaviest objects around your house

By Jay Somerset

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HANGING A MIRROR (20 to 100 lbs.)

“Once you go beyond 20 lbs., it’s a smart idea to drill at least one screw into a stud,” says Millar. Use a wood screw (it has more bite) and try to drill right into the centre of the stud. Screws going into studs don’t require wall plugs.

The key: “Coarse-threaded wood screws work best,” says kitchen and bathroom contractor Kevin Armitage of Armitage Professional Finishes, a renovation company in Courtice, Ont. “Coarse screws bite into the wood and really hold.” Armitage also suggests using a washer so that the head doesn’t dig into the wallboard.

Since you’re going right into a stud, you don’t need to drill a pilot hole, but it’s a good idea to use a template: cut a piece of newspaper or cardboard to the same size and shape as the object, hold it up on the wall and mark the spots where the fasteners will go. As a general rule, space the fasteners two to three inches in from the edge of the frame. Use a level to make sure the holes are at the same height.

The second fastener will go right into the drywall and not a stud, but instead of installing a plastic anchor and a regular screw, use an E-Z drywall anchor. These fasteners, which come in plastic or metal, allow you to hang heavy objects securely while preserving the integrity of the wallboard, sort of what the antiquated toggle bolt used to do (don’t bother fussing with toggles or Molly bolts-they’re as useful now as a computer from 1991). E-Z Anchors are self-tapping, too, so there’s no need to drill a pilot hole. Simply drive the anchor into the wall, and when you’re ready to hang, insert the screw into the anchor.


Most, if not all, plasma TVs come with brackets specifically designed to hold them on the wall; however, like the weak batteries that come with a toy, the fasteners are not always the best. “The hardware is often of lower quality and not necessarily the best way to hang the item,” says Mike Dennis, trading manager at Brafasco in Brampton, Ont. “If in doubt, measure your TV, including weight, and consult a professional. Having your TV crash down two weeks after the warranty runs out isn’t your objective.”

Assuming the brackets and fasteners are suitable, your next step is to assess the area. If the brackets span two studs, install them by drilling right into the studs, using a level to make sure they’re straight.

If you don’t have access to two studs, simply cut out a small section of drywall using a utility knife. Cut a 2×4 (or a piece of plywood) long enough to span two studs. Find the exact height you want to hang the TV, and then screw or nail the piece of wood horizontally to the two studs. Then place the bracket over top the area and attach it to the newly installed wood and, if possible, one of the studs.


There are two considerations here. If the bookcase sits on the floor, all the weight is sheer (straight down) and you only need to stabilize the top by installing a few #8 screws into a stud toward the top of the case. This will prevent it from toppling over.

If you can’t find a stud, use a few E-Z Toggle expansion anchors for added reinforcement. “E-Z Toggles screw into the drywall exactly like an E-Z Anchor,” says Dennis, “but the anchor is longer and you use a longer screw. As you put the screw through the anchor, a toggle switch moves, so as you tighten, the switch spreads and holds tight against the drywall.” For even heavier loads, use a toggle anchor, which can accommodate larger fasteners.

Hanging a bookcase with its weight being carried by the anchors requires reinforced drywall. Reinforce the drywall with 2x4s as you would with a television (see above). For extra protection, install addiitional horizontal pieces (there’s no such thing as overkill here): one near the bottom, one in the middle and one near the top.

Next, screw the bookcase to the wall by drilling directly into the studs and horizontal braces. For spots without studs, use an expansion anchor.

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