Hanging Pictures in Old Homes

Old empty frame hanging on a wall in an old home.
Old empty frame hanging on a wall in an old home.

Old homes still exist, and these homes come with charm, great designs and good looking architecture. When they are kept up and well maintained, they can add a lot of value to the neighborhood, beyond historical value. There is something nice about having old homes down the street from your own home.

However, these homes also come with plaster walls, which can make picture hanging a bit of a challenge. It takes a little skill to hang pictures on plaster walls. To learn how to do it correctly, just continue to read our article. The key is to never use nails but always use screws.

How to Hang Pictures on Old Walls

Man standing on step ladder hanging photo on white wall

There are several different methods you can use. The stores are full of tried-and-true picture hanging options but some of these options use nails and that is not always a good thing.

1. Adhesive Picture Hangers

There are two things to be concerned about when using this method. One is the humidity in the room. If there is a lot of it, then these options may not work as moisture stops the adhesive from bonding with the plaster walls.

Two, the weight of the picture. Adhesive hangers are great if the picture, frame and all, are light enough. If you are not sure, weigh the pictures to make sure the hanger will hold them. If so, then strip the backing off, and place the hanger right where you want it.

Make sure you clean that spot first so that there is no dirt and let the wall dry before placing the hanger on that spot.

2. Anchor and Screw

This option is usually reserved for the heavier frames but it can be used for light frames as well. If you do not like or trust the adhesive hangers, then go to this option. It isn’t that much harder to do but you will need a drill to create the hole.

The first step in the process is to mark your spot. Measure the exact spot where you want to place the anchor and mark it. Next, take your drill and place the appropriate bit in the chuck. The bit size will depend on the size of anchor you will be using.

If you do not want to clean up any dust afterwards cut a piece of tape off a roll of painter’s tape. The length should be 4 inches and fold it in half. Do not fold toward the adhesive side. Then attach the tape a few inches under your mark. The folded out adhesive side will catch the dust as it falls.

Once the tape is in place, drill your hole but do not go any deeper than the length of the anchor. You can place a piece of tape on your drill bit letting you know where you should stop. After you have the hole, place the anchor inside and use your screwdriver to insert the screw.

It may take a little convincing to get your anchor in place, so use your hammer but tap gently. You do not want to damage the walls or ruin the anchor. Once the anchor and screw are in place, hang your picture.

Why You Do Not Use Nails

Picture hanging accessories in a divided plastic box

There is a very good reason why you do not use nails on old plaster walls. They can cause a lot of damage if you do. While you may see nail holes in your wall, those old nail holes are from specially designed picture nails that did not damage the plaster.

Also, the plaster in the 1800s was not as dry or as brittle as it is in the 21st century. The very slender and pointed picture nails could slide right into the plaster without damaging it.

However, modern nails are not designed that way and even if you could find the old picture nails, the plaster would be too brittle to use them.

When using a modern nail, chances are the thicker blunter point would chip away the old plaster leaving you with a big hole to fill. Or your hammer could miss and create a hard to fix dent in the wall.

It is best to stick to the two methods mentioned above if you want your walls damage-free.

Please keep in mind that we may receive a small commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

Wet vacuum suctioning water from hardwood floors

How to Clean Sealed Hardwood Floors

Hand holding a nail to a rustic wall with one hand while holding a hammer in the other.

How to Hang Pictures Without Nails