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Essential Tools for DIY Picture Hanging

You’ve picked out your perfect home, packed, and moved in. Now that the hard work is behind you, the fun can begin. Your new home is a blank canvas, ready for you to decorate. Before you start hammering nails into walls and hanging pictures, you’ll need to plan your strategy for home decor, and you’ll need to make sure you have some essential tools.

Here’s our list of the ten tools you’ll need to have to make sure your home decorating project is as smooth as possible.  

1. Hammer

A sturdy hammer isn’t just good for pounding in nails; it’s useful for removing them as well. When picking out hammers be sure to get two – a small, lightweight kind for delicate tasks and a heavy-duty one for jobs that require more power.

2. Spackling Paste

You’re likely to put a few nails or screws where they don’t belong, so make sure to get a small tub of white spackling paste to fill up holes left behind. In a pinch, you can use white toothpaste, but spackling paste is your best choice for long-term repairs. Touch up any large holes with matching paint, but apply spackling paste first, and allow it to dry thoroughly before painting.

3. Stud Finder

Studs are typically set at 18-inch intervals in most construction, but you’ll need to be sure, and tapping on a wall in hopes to find where a stud is can lead to mistakes.

Get a stud finder, and mark the outside edges of each stud before putting in a nail or screw. Don’t hang anything on drywall if it can be avoided.

If you must hang a picture on drywall, make sure to use a drywall hanger, and follow directions for drilling pilot holes and pounding in drywall anchors.  

4.  Hand Tools  

  • A fine-edge putty knife – essential for spreading spackling paste.
  • Screwdrivers – small and large, and both Phillips and slotted.  
  • Pliers – useful for removing stubborn screws and staples.

5. Picture Hanging Kit

If you’re hanging pictures, your best bet to ensure a correctly-hung picture is a picture hanging kit, which typically includes attachments for securing wire across the back of the frame.  

6.  A Generous Supply of Nails and Screws

Depending on how large your pictures and artwork are, you’ll need nails and screws of a variety of sizes.  Avoid nails and screws that are either very large or very small. To save money, pick up variety packs. For screws, opt for Phillips-type if available.

7.  Step-Stool or Ladder

A sturdy step-stool or ladder is essential for hanging anything higher than eye-level. Don’t use a chair under any circumstances, as they’re not as sturdy as ladders and step-stools, and don’t distribute weight as evenly. If you use a chair rather than a ladder or step-stool you’re far more likely to have an accident.

8.  Level

It’s better to rely on a bubble- level rather than your eyes to make sure your pictures are hung evenly.  When choosing one, opt for a longer (12-inch or longer) bubble level with a magnetic edge and several angled level indicators rather than a shorter kind. The extra length ensures accuracy.  

9.  Measuring Tape

Measuring accurate distances (distance from the floor, from the ceiling, or from a wall) is essential for symmetry. Before you pound the first nail or drill the first pilot hole for a drywall hanger, make sure you measure. Remember the old carpenter’s adage:  measure twice, cut once.

10. Drill

An electric or battery-operated drill is an essential tool in decorating. Opt for a variable-speed drill or a smaller hand tool.

Project Perfect!

Good luck with your picture hanging project!

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