Fixing Weird Things To Walls – Top Tips
You may be comfortable putting up shelves, cabinets or picture frames, and even if you aren’t, there is usually plenty of tips available online. But what if you need to hang up something a bit more unusual? A large wall sculpture, fish tank or an indoor swing for the kids?
First of all, before you start drilling away, please make sure there are no hidden cables and pipes you could accidentally hit! You can use a stud/cable finder for this, they cost about £30 and will save you a lot of (expensive) trouble.
Now, let’s take a look at hanging up a few more unusual items!
What if you’re hanging up a large wall sculpture? There are a few things to think about here. How much does the sculpture weigh? How is the weight distributed if it’s an irregular shape? Do you need to be able to dismount it easily? Does it come with fixings or fixing holes? If it’s ordered from a furniture/home décor shop it will likely come with some kind of fixings, but a unique piece from an independent artist might be a different story.
If it comes with no fixings or fixing holes, does it have areas where you can fit fixings or drill through? If the piece has holes or slits, use those to your advantage to screw it to the wall.
As with anything, you’ll also need to consider the wall material, and pick fixings or hooks accordingly.
If you’re fixing the sculpture to a masonry wall, you’ll likely be fine with standard masonry or multimaterial fixings like Fischer DuoPower. With thicker fixtures up to 30mm, we recommend Corefix 120.
With plasterboard walls, there are a few options. If your sculpture is under 10kg or so in weight, you’ll likely get away with just fixing it to the plasterboard with standard plasterboard fixings like Gripit or Geefix. With thicker fixtures, you can go with Cobra FlipToggle as long as the fixture and wall material are up to 50mm thick in total.
Heavier sculptures and wall fountains will likely need to be fixed to the timber studs if you’re dealing with a plasterboard wall – you can use a stud finder to find a suitable place and attach your sculpture with wood screws.
Wall-Mounted Fish Tank
This one you REALLY don’t want falling down! Fish tanks are notoriously heavy and fragile, and your cichlids’ or guppies’ lives depend on them. A small wall aquarium can weigh 30 to 50 kg when full, and a large wall aquarium can weigh close to 140kg when full of water!
The good news is that as they’re a fairly expensive niche bit of kit and usually available from specialist aquarium suppliers, they tend to come with a complete wall mounting kit and instructions, so you’ll know exactly how many fixings you’ll need. This one comes with wall brackets which are ideal for mounting onto timber studs or blockwork, and if in doubt about the fixings supplied with your fishtank, you can always swap them out. Once again, these are something we don’t recommend fixing to just plasterboard on its own!
With a wall-mounted fishtank, you’ll also need to think of electrics and water for your fishes’ life support system. As you’ll likely be changing the water at regular intervals, make sure the tank is mounted in a place and at a height where it’s still easy and safe for you to do that. Make sure it’s also near a wall socket to plug in the lights and filters, or have one installed. A waterproof socket with a sealing lid is ideal!
Indoor Swing for the Kids
Hanging an indoor swing may be a good idea if you have active kids who want to swing even when the weather’s awful! Indoor swings usually come with a mount(s) to fix them to the ceiling, but that’s only part of the work.
You’ll be slightly limited in the location of the swing: First of all, you need to make sure the kids don’t hit the walls or anything fragile when they’re swinging, so make sure there’s plenty of space around the swing. However, you also need to make sure the swing is fixed to a ceiling joist, as plain plasterboard fixings won’t cut it and you certainly won’t want your swing to pull a chunk of the ceiling down!
Most ceilings are plasterboard with wooden joists usually at 40cm or 60cm intervals, and you can use a stud finder to find these (or just knock!). On average, wooden ceiling joists can hold about 23kg weight per square foot, so depending on the weight of the intended users, you may need to add a board between multiple joists to spread the weight – this means a bit more work as it would require opening up the ceiling.
As for installing the mount, carpentry expert Alan Chenkin recommends in House Beautiful that a single person swing mount should be able to hold at least 270kg. As you’re fixing it to a wooden ceiling joist, you should be using the bolts that came with the mount of your swing, or wood screws, instead of fixings.
You’ll need to drill pilot holes first, slightly smaller than the wood screws or bolts, and then attach the mount. Before hanging the swing itself, it’s also important to test the mount, literally by hanging your weight off it, to ensure it’s safely attached. When hanging the swing, Chenkin recommends leaving between 40 and 60 cm between the swing and the ground (obviously depending on the size of the user(s)!)