Two ways to hang artwork on a brick wall without drilling holes

Two ways to hang artwork on a brick wall without drilling holes

s: A couple of years ago, I removed the drywall in a few rooms in my house to expose the brick walls behind them. I live in a late 1800s house on Capitol Hill, and I absolutely love the new look. However, I have a pretty extensive art collection, and I like to move pieces around from time to time. Now most of the pieces sit on the floor. Is there a way to rehang these pieces without making holes in the brick?

a: Devices called brick clips or brick hangers allow people to hang pictures, mirrors and other objects on walls without drilling into the brick. Two examples are Brick Clips by a company called Tuopu (10 for $14.99 on Amazon) and OOK Brick Hangers (two for $2.48 at Home Depot). Hardware stores and home centers carry similar products with different names, especially in the run-up to winter because clips are often used to support strings of holiday lights.

Clamps are designed to grip bricks as they protrude out of the mortar. Designs vary, but there is always a notched edge at the top and two metal tabs at the top or bottom that are held in place against the lip of the adjacent brick. The clips are rated to support various weights up to 30 pounds, but if you need to hang something heavier, you can use two or more hangers.

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The biggest issue is making sure the installers will work with the existing brick in your wall. All fasteners are marked to the appropriate brick height, because saw-tooth handles and spring-loaded handles will not work if the brick is too long or short. This is not the only issue. The bricks should have relatively square edges, and the mortar between the bricks should be far enough away from the face of the bricks. Tuopu stabilizers require a setback of one-eighth of an inch inches, according to the listing on Amazon. OOK fasteners need at least a quarter inch, preferably a little more, said Al Marchetti, product manager for OOK, a brand owned by the Hillman Group.

The photo you sent shows several bricks with chipped edges and mortar joints that appear to be close to the face of the brick. Therefore, these fasteners may not hold your wall well, especially if you want to hang pictures in specific places. These steps may work if you want to hang pictures only in places where you can find bricks with intact edges at the top and bottom.

When a brick wall isn’t suitable for mounted hangers, another option is OOK’s plastic hard wall hangers (three for $2.39 at Home Depot.) Each hook has three thin nails pre-installed on the back, ready to be tapped into the brick with a hammer. You’ll have to test whether your brick is soft enough to hammer on, but there’s a good chance it is. Bricks used for walls are usually softer than very hard bricks suitable for exterior paving, because they must be fired at higher temperatures to make them less porous and therefore more frost-resistant. The nails used in solid wall hangers are less than one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter, so they don’t break bricks or leave noticeable holes if you decide later to remove the hook, Marchetti says.

There’s another alternative you may want to consider, especially because you want to change your artwork periodically: Install a picture rail, which is a type of molding, usually about two inches deep, that extends horizontally across the wall. The top edge protrudes from the wall, creating a slit through which you can insert a special clip that has a hook on the front to secure the wire to the back of the painting or mirror. Before easy-to-patch drywall replaced lath and plaster as the standard wall finish, picture rail was a popular part of the decoration in living rooms and dining rooms because it allowed people to hang pictures wherever they wanted without having to hammer into the plaster, which can cause cracks.

Traditional picture rails are wooden and often installed 12 to 20 inches below the ceiling. Especially in a room with a low ceiling, it can also come close to the ceiling or at the bottom edge of the crown molding. In Craftsman-style interiors, they are usually at the same height as the top edge of the door and window, creating a uniform look. Today, there are also suspension rails made of metal, which look especially good in interiors with a modern design. PictureHangingSystems.com carries different styles of templates and picture hangers to work with.

The photo barrier must be securely installed, which means attaching it to the brick using nails or screws. But once the block is in place, you can rearrange your artwork as much as you like without having to worry again about poking holes in the brick.

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