How To Hang A Heavy Mirror

I love vintage things, and antique things, and things that are made to look vintage or antique.

The problem with all those categories is that they are SUPER…FREAKIN’…HEAVY!!!

Seriously heavy. A real vintage or antique mirror for example has a real wood frame and often a beveled glass mirror.

A faux vintage or antique thing seems to be made out of a resin that was designed to maintain the earth’s orbit in case gravity ever fails.

This is the mirror in my dining room…

dining-room-mirror

A real, honest to goodness, old mirror that requires a crane to lift it into place. OK….maybe that’s an exaggeration. But, only slightly….

I usually am going thrifting alone…

…..just me and my trusty MomMobile  (aka: mini-van).

I love this van because the back has seats that fold down quick as a wink and the height is just about at my knees. This makes it perfect for loading big, bulky and heavy things. If I can back the thing up to the van and lift the bottom, I can tilt it backwards and slide it in. Comes in handy since the thrift stores will take something to the curb, but not load it…..in general. An unfortunate fact is that I am too old to flutter my eyelashes and get the guy to put it in the van for me. Unless he’s really young, then he feels sorry for me because I’m SO old.

Now the unloading part. Not quite as smooth…….

The day I brought this mirror home, I could envision my insurance company rubbing their hands together and salivating at the possibility of YEARS of rehabilitation therapy . I don’t do push-ups for arm definition (which has NOT worked)…but for strength, and I managed to get it out of the car and into the garage. It is almost as tall as I am so I could only lift it off the ground about 6 inches without getting unbalanced so I was doing an interesting side-step-shuffle movement. Fortunately my neighbors rarely witness these fun unloading events.

Have you ever carried a full length mirror facing you ? It’s quite the experience matched only by an acid trip…….I mean, I could hardly walk because of the disorientation…….I finally slapped my face against the mirror and only looked out of one eye towards the garage….that’s all that saved me. That and the determination that the kids would NOT come home and find me sliced to ribbons because I fell backwards with a 10,000 lb mirror crashing down on me.

You can only imagine the conversation I had with my husband when I told him I wanted this mirror hung in the dining room. This is a G rated blog, so I can’t share. But, knowing how to hang a heavy item in a modern house can be useful information. Once he got with the program, hanging the rest of the heavy stuff I had hiding in the garage was a cinch.

I’m going to give you a small construction lesson…if you know all this already, you can skip this part.

In the past, when these beautiful things were made, houses were generally constructed with lath and plaster. Lath strips, narrow, long and thin pieces of wood were run horizontally between upright studs (like a 2 x 4, but not necessarily). Plaster was then smeared on these lath strips and when it squished through the lath and dried, you had a solid wall. These walls were fine for a nail and a picture of grandpa or grandma….but not heavy, ornate art or mirrors. This form of construction was used even on large, fine homes who could afford these big items so the problem was universal. The placement of the upright boards was not standard so there was no sure way to know where that stud was.

lath-wall-collage

Enter in the picture rail. This was installed (and is still used in museums) to allow the hanging of these heavy things. A clip fits in the rail and can be easily moved or removed if needed. No need to bang holes in the wall and install a heavy duty hanger. Most of us don’t have picture rails BUT they can be installed in any home so it’s something to consider. I wish I had thought to do it myself!

picture-rail-collage

Since I don’t have picture rails, we use another method. Here’s your second construction lesson.

Every home…..EVERY HOME…. has walls constructed in a similar way. We now have fairly standard building codes across the USA. There is a top plate and a bottom plate with 2 x 4’s attached vertically. Most building codes require  “16” on center”  placement of the 2 x 4’s. That means from the center of one 2 x 4 to the center of the next 2 x 4 there should be 16″. This is valuable information when you are hanging something. To measure, start at the corner of the room…don’t just pick a spot and start measuring off 16″.

If you happen to have a stud finder and can locate one stud….you can find the next one.

College girls have know this secret for years…………

two-by-four-collage

We hang heavy items by using the top plate as our point of attachment, creating a similar look to the use of picture rails….see, you thought I was just showing off….I had to show the point of similarity, didn’t I?

We have crown molding which is attached to the top plate so my hanger is in the crown molding. It’s secure because the crown is attached flatly to the wall.

picture hanging

If you don’t have crown molding, then install a hanger right at the top of the wall where you can catch that top plate and have good solid wood to drill into. You can see that my husband used a screw eye with an S hook so we could easily remove the mirror. In other areas, he used screw eyes and we threaded the picture wire through the eye. I did this on the chalkboard because I had two points of attachment and I was pretty sure it was going to stay there for awhile. I don’t re-arrange the foyer much….it’s pretty static except for seasonal decor.

If you want to see the story of the chalkboard, go here.

chalkboard

chalkboard-hanging

 

I always use picture hanging wire….DO NOT use regular wire, twine or anything else you THINK will be strong…..it won’t. Picture hanging wire is stranded, braided steel and VERY strong.

picture-hanging-wire-1

When you have finished hanging your item….paint the wire and it will almost disappear….

dining-room-mirror-1

Like magic!

dining-room-mirror-2

Knowing how to hang something really heavy can come in handy! hope this helps!

Comments

  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

    We have a heavy mirror that just sits on on dresser rather than being hung because it is heavy and our house has 1928 lath and plaster walls. But, we have picture rail all around the bedroom walls and I never thought to use the rail to hang the mirror. Thanks for reminding me what I have right in front of my face.

    We lived in the house for 8 years before I knew that the wood strips high around the room were picture rails. I went on a tour of the oldest house in town and the docent commented on the picture rails. So you can see why I needed your help – we are pretty slow.
    Carol recently posted…Using Up CanvasMy Profile

  2. I’ve done this before, but definitely pinning as a refresher!! Great job! 😮
    Larissa ~ Prodigal Pieces recently posted…Backyard Fun ~ DIY Style #1 ~ Sand TableMy Profile

  3. Not sure what hubs does to hang our heavy stuff, but your way is unique and cool looking.

    I LOVE your new mirror, and laughed so many times reading this post.

    You are so danged cute….and NOT OLD!!!!
    Michele/Finch Rest recently posted…A Garden Tea for Two and GIVEAWAY WINNER!My Profile

  4. I lust after that chalkboard. Seriously lust after it!
    Handy tips for hanging those monsters.
    Tina recently posted…Laughin’ and a runnin’, hey hey…My Profile

  5. I am so jealous, I have to admit, I WANT that mirror!!! It is so gorgeous. Great tips for hanging heavy items.

    Cynthia
    Cynthia recently posted…For the Love of a PillowMy Profile

  6. What an over the top gorgeous mirror Lorraine!!!
    I go weak in the knees when I’m handling an oversized heavy mirror – seriously weak in the knees – they terrify me –
    AND I had one come crashing down from my mantel once – missing me by an inch but even more importantly, missing a custom piece of furniture I was working on for a customer by centimeters LOL.
    Great post ( funny too lol )
    XOXO
    Suzan recently posted…I WANNA live there Wednesday # 50My Profile

  7. That is a beautiful mirror! I have several big mirrors that are currently living under my beds. I’m showing this to Sam! Thank you, Lorraine!
    Danni@SiloHillFarm recently posted…Painted BuffetMy Profile

  8. Okay, that’s hilarious. But remember…

    He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Mirror.

    (And he’s gorgeous!)

    -andi
    Andi recently posted…how to cut insulations bats and shove staples in your kneeMy Profile

  9. Beautiful mirror, Lorraine! I had to laugh at your comments about carrying/loading these heavy things and then carrying the mirror {I never want to look in a mirror again after that!}. I do love the one you did as a chalkboard in your foyer. I’ve got my eye out for a mirror in a frame like that for my dining room, to replace the trio of mirrors I have there now. Good tips!
    Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions recently posted…Those Little ThingsMy Profile

  10. Brilliant I will have to remember this! Oh if there were my husband he would have told me to take it back…LOL!
    xx
    Anne
    Anne recently posted…Milk Paint Chalk Paint And A Wood TableMy Profile

  11. You are good Lorraine!!…Doing this on your own…makes you one incredible lady…thanks for the tips and next time I shall give it the old “college try”..yes, the college girls know what they are doing!!!
    Beautiful mirror!!!
    Shirley@Housepitality Designs recently posted…Must Love Junk….A FeatureMy Profile

    • Thanks! But I have to make a disclaimer…I don’t do this alone…I make someone else do it while I stand with a cup of coffee and say “a little higher”..”now a little to the left”…”just a smidge down”….see what I mean?

  12. Yet another savvy tip on hanging!

    Question – how much should an antique mirror run? Is there added value in having a true antique mirror rather than a new mirror to look antique?

  13. Christine says:

    I admit to not reading everyone’s posts, so please forgive me if I repeat an important point:
    Picture hanging wire comes in different strengths. Choose your wire by the weight of your item or it WILL snap and fall. I dare you to ask me how I know this.
    But absolutely do use picture wire. You are so correct in that everything else is a pale 2nd.

  14. Kate Henderson says:

    I love your gorgeous mirror! I had a HUGE mirror to hang into a hollow wall and discovered a picture hook type thing called the Steadfastener. It’s more of a bracket – you attach two brackets to the mirror and two to the wall and then they slip over the top of each other – they did a test of up to 100kg, plus there are special screw attachments that splay behind the wall to keep them in. It worked really well for us! Their website is http://www.picturehanging.co.nz

  15. Thanks for the tip to install a hanger at the top of the wall. I think most people would be worried it wouldn’t hold. You made a good point, though, that you just need to find good solid wood to drill.

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