View Full Version : How to Hang Large Framed Photographs Without Nails

03-17-2013, 11:55 AM
Hi Everyone. I've been learning a lot from the Forum and, now, have a question to post.

I'll be installing matted photographs in 24" x 32" metal frames with a hanging wire on the back – each weighs about 5.5 lbs.

The exhibit is at a National Park Service office in the northeast. Nailing into the wall is not permitted and they do not have rails from which I can suspend the frames.

3M makes Wire-Backed Sticky Nails that hold up to 8 lbs. that do not leave any residue or marks on the walls. See http://tinyurl.com/awu45ly

The reviews on the Sticky Nail’s effectiveness (and variations of this 3M product) are not consistent. Some say the product works great after following the instructions to the letter. Others say they followed the instructions carefully and their frames still fell to the floor.

Unfortunately, I don't have the option of trying other 3M products that adhere directly to the back of the frame, because the rear of my metal frames have a hollowed out channel.

Any suggestions on how I can affix the frames to the wall?

T. Ashley McGrew
03-17-2013, 04:37 PM
A few things are worth mentioning here. One is that whatever the rating of your installation hardware is most folks with experience tend to use hardware rated much higher than the actual weight of the piece.
Second actual art should never be hung utilizing pressure sensitive material alone (you would be hard pressed to find another instance where I actually use the word "never" but in this instance it is a straight forward call). You can hang anything you want to using this kind of technology as long as it is something "replaceable" - not art. For art it is a no - no. To begin with this approach is totally reliant on superficial attachment . In other words if the surface of even the strongest material has a film of dirt then the attachment is compromised. Even if the surface is clean you are still only relying on a layer of paint or a layer of paper (drywall) to support the work. Barring some extraordinary circumstance, artwork should normally be installed using some form of mechanical fastener. The last thing I would mention is that in terms of professional installation goes wires are normally avoided in favor of hanging directly on two D-rings.

03-18-2013, 06:44 AM
If you can't hang on the walls, you may have to resort to putting all you photos on easels or something like that. I'm sure an office supply store would have a bunch of different kinds.

Jamie Hascall
03-18-2013, 08:15 AM
I wonder if you could use a combination approach. I'm thinking of using some sort of legs made of small aluminum square tubing or wood, coupled with an adhesive such as 3M VHB tape to retain the piece and the legs back to the wall. The legs take all the vertical load, and the tape retains the assembly to keep it from falling outward from the wall. Having a leg that cannot buckle away from the wall over time is key. Put together a mockup with an empty frame and see how it works for you. You may need to find a way to press the framework to the wall for a day or so to allow the tape to develop its adhesion.

Also, have you aslked if the NPS office has ever displayed art before, and if so how it was done at that time. The prohibition on nailing into the wall may be new or there may be some other factors that aren't apparent. Good luck.

T. Ashley McGrew
03-18-2013, 08:27 AM
I did a dumb post earlier and had to go back and edit out most of the dumb stuff. Jamie’s idea is good. Posts or panels with a metal plate that extends in from of the structure by a few inches could also work.
My first question though - now that I am paying more attention - would be "what kind of ceiling do they have"? Hanging by cable is an old timey but still useful method. If they have a drop ceiling with removable panels like most office settings you are in luck. Although they make clips that attach directly to the metal grid work (that support the acoustic panels) for hanging things they end up pushing the cables out a couple of inches from the wall which is not good. Instead one thing I have done in the past is to drill very small holes in the metal angle right where you need the cables to go. Usually you can remove the panel in front of it and after threading the cable through the hole you can attach it to structural elements above the ceiling. This ends up being one of the "cleanest" looking installation methods you can do using cables, but it is dependent on a drop ceiling of course.

03-20-2013, 05:24 AM
Thank you T. Ashley McGrew, oner0002 and Jamie for all of your suggestions. I really appreciate it because it enables me to present the options to the exhibiting office and we can go from there. I agree that it's not the best way to hang art work and, indeed, I have never done it that way. As much I would like to do the exhibit, I have also considered that I may simply have to pass on it if the installation becomes too unwieldy or if I'm not confident that it will be secure. If it moves forward, I hope you will indulge me some follow-up questions.