By Paul Dunwell, writing for EasyFrame
© Copyright EasyFrame 2019
What This Article is About
In ‘Frame Academy I’ we provided a run-down of essential terminology as a prelude to further ‘Frame Academy’ pieces that have been spanning more complex aspects of the dark art of picture-framing.
In ‘Frame Academy II’ we gave you a step-by-step idiot’s guide to making a picture frame. It served, alternatively, as a resource to help you understand the processes involved if you go to a 3rd party to have your frames made to your specifications.
In ‘Frame Academy III’ we ambitiously explained how to gild a frame and add an ostentatious touch to framed work that is already precious to you.
In ‘Frame Academy IV’ we retraced our steps a little and asked ‘Why would anybody bother with a frame?’ And ‘With so many options to choose from, what sort of framing solution should I be looking for?’
In ‘Frame Academy V’ we examined interesting things to do with old picture-frames.
In Frame Academy VI we explained how to choose mat and moulding colours in the context of the work to be framed and the surroundings in which the framed work is to be hung.
Now, in Frame Academy VII, we explain how to hang a large and/or heavy artwork. And, actually, that’s potentially a far more complicated process than one might imagine. Yet it’s certainly worthwhile if one remembers that most large and/or heavy artwork is going to be valuable and/or difficult to replace. And that there is almost certainly going to be a value to the frame itself. So a mistake can be costly.
Before You Start
You will need to decide on the location in which you’re going to hang your work. Most older properties in the UK have load-bearing and exterior walls that are stone, brick or concrete. High-rise offices and apartments will likewise have such robust walls. And thus it will be easier to hang heavy work in them. But many modern properties are timber-framed. By nature they are lighter and relatively flimsy (though this makes them warmer because they’re not heat-sinks!) They are likely to have stud walls – interior or dry-walls – with big cavities behind plaster-board that, in its own right, isn’t strong and ideal when it comes to suspending artwork or anything else like shelving or big televisions from it. Though, of course, the cavities in such walls are interspersed with timber beams that will support anything. You can often find these beams by knocking on the walls and listening. But you can also knock a nail in (be aware of the risk of penetrating a cable or pipework before you do so) and use the resistance it meets as a gauge of what’s behind the plaster. If any walls are likely to be more robust then it’s the exterior walls. Yet you may not wish to hang your work on an exterior wall for aesthetic reasons. At the end of the day you should be able to overcome the technical difficulties of hanging your work where you want to view it.
The Items You Need
You need some kit. What I’d recommend is as follows:
• Scales. You need to know what weight of work you’re dealing with. Bathroom scales will do
• A spirit-level
• A tape-measure
• A marker
• Removable tape
• A hammer
• A screwdriver
• A pair of heavy-duty hangers (suitable to hold the weight of the artwork you have) to fix to the back of the frame with screws that are the ideal length and type for whatever they have to penetrate (ideal-length screws don’t go all the way through the wall)
• A pair of heavy-duty picture-hanging hooks (again suitable to hold the weight of the artwork you have) to go onto the wall, again with screws that are the ideal length and type for whatever frame they have to penetrate
• Rawlplugs that are the ideal length and type for both the screws and whatever they have to penetrate
• The ideal drill (capable of slow drilling) and drill-bits (probably a masonry bit, which has a fairly flat end and is suitable for brickwork, and a wood bit which will have a sharp point in the middle of a flatter end).
• Weigh the framed artwork so you are aware of its mass in relation to the components and process
• Find the studs – beams – in a hollow wall if you are not hanging on a more solid external wall. Some studs might be horizontal. Most will be vertical. But you are looking to drill into those studs then hang on them so ideally you need to find 2 points on studs that can correspond to the 2 points on the sides of the frame towards its top
• Take each of the two heavy-duty hangers in turn and mark off on the frame where they will sit and where the screws need to go. Then check the screws, when they go into the back of the frame at these points, won’t come out of the front
• Repeat the process with the pair of heavy-duty picture-hanging hooks and their screws, making marks on the wall when you are sure you’ve got it right! Check that the screws are not going to go right through the wall concerned. It’s also worth saying, at this point, you also need to avoid going through electricity cables, gas pipes or water pipes. It happens!
• Mentally check that heavy-duty hangers will mate up with the heavy-duty picture-hanging hooks. Measure the distances between them and make sure they coincide precisely. Check with a spirit-level that the marks on the wall will be dead level. Then, if you make an adjustment in respect of the horizontal, re-check and adjust the distance apart which the holes will be
• Make a final check in respect of the height that the work will hang – is it going to be where you want it to be or either too near the ceiling or floor? If so then adjust
• Drill all holes
• Insert the screws, using Rawlplugs in the case of the wall; you may have to tap with a hammer
• Use a couple of friends to support the artwork as you observe and supervise the hanging, ensure that the fittings are properly engaged with each other, then check with a spirit-level.
Where Can You Get More Information?
There are lots of sources for more information on this and not only complexities but alternative fixings. See https://makingamark.blogspot.com/2015/10/how-to-hang-large-or-heavy-picture.html and https://interior-design.wonderhowto.com/how-to/hang-heavy-art-lath-and-plaster-walls-329515/ as examples.
Hanging artwork securely when it’s in a heavy frame is important. Not least because you (or somebody else) may well have to answer for a botch-up.
If you are framing something precious it’s always worth going straight to a professional framer like EasyFrame for advice. You could have them either do the entire job or help with part of it (whatever has left you jittery!) EasyFrame can also certainly supply much of what you need to do the job if you contact them. So they will help you with heavy-duty picture-hanging hooks and heavy-duty hangers as well as picture mounts and picture frames. Moreover, where the size and weight of the artwork pose risks, they’ll help you to limit those risks.
EasyFrame is on 01234 856 501 and emailable via firstname.lastname@example.org .