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posted: 1/24/2014 12:01 AM

Finding the perfect hanger for your drywall

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Whether you are hanging pictures on your walls or a wall sconce, you are going to need to use a hanger or two, especially on drywall.

Drywall is a good surface for a lightweight frame and for paint or wallpaper, but it's just not sturdy enough for hanging heavier stuff. But there are tons of different kinds of wall hangers available in your hardware store or home center.

Here are the basics you'll need to know when shopping for the perfect hanger for your wall.

First of all, you probably already know there are wooden studs behind the drywall, usually spaced about 16 inches apart. Use a magnetic stud finder to locate these. You can install a nail or screw through the drywall and directly into the wooden stud, which will support just about anything, eliminating the need for a specialized hanger.

We usually recommend going with the best option you can afford to install, and one that is rated for more weight than it will be holding. Most hooks will tell you on the package what the maximum holding weight should be.

Plastic wall anchors are an option and may be fine for lightweight items. These include a plastic sleeve that is pushed into the hole in the wall, flush with the front surface. A screw is installed in this and pressed against the drywall to hold items.

Other drywall anchors come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Basically, they all will be installed through the drywall and, by different means, spread apart on the backside of the drywall to spread the load more evenly to make it possible to hold onto a very heavy load. Some common anchors are Molly bolts and toggle bolts.

When you go to buy these, you'll probably see some others that might be worth a try. Some will work better than others, but someone comes up with a "better mousetrap" every day, so keep an open mind and try one every now and then.

'Reel' handy

Have you priced garden hose hangers lately? Sure, they look great, but if your hose is on the side of the house where nobody sees it, do you really need to spend a lot of money so it will look good? We keep a hose around the side of our yard that nobody sees, on a great hanger that we made ourselves. We took an empty 5-pound can of coffee and used screws to attach it to the fence post next to the water faucet so that the open end is facing outward. The hose winds around the can and hangs right there. The can itself is perfect for holding a pair of gloves and two hose-end sprayers, which we use from time to time. It might not be pretty, but it's pretty handy!

Tin saddlebags

If you have a trusty sawhorse or two, you are lucky. So many of us do-it-yourselfers don't. They really come in handy when working with sheet goods or long materials, and they are so versatile. But what's a trusty horse without saddlebags? You can add what might be considered saddlebags by just hanging a scrap of guttering along the side of your sawhorse. This catchall could be used to hold some of your tools, hardware and other items while you work. Now, that's handy!

Super hints

• I have to say that you don't have to destroy parts of your home just to remodel them. It might be fun to take a sledgehammer to an old sink, but just remove it and donate it to a building charity. Your trash might be a real treasure to someone in need!

• If you want large wall art but can't afford to shop at the local galleries, hang a remnant of nice fabric or a large scarf or even a rug. You can mount it on a foam insulation panel to give it stability. This is lightweight, so heavy-duty hangers won't be required. It will make a big statement for a small amount of moola.

• If you are in a hurry to make that drywall repair, try a quick-setting compound. It's not as user-friendly as the standard type, but it will dry in much less time.

Q. I just repaired a water spot on a wall in my hallway. I am going to use a primer on it before painting. Do I have to prime the whole wall, or just the one spot?

A. You should be able to paint just the affected area, making sure to cover up all of the repairs. Once painted, the wall should look just fine if you did your repair work well. Good luck!

Q. I have a spot in my den where the carpeting just keeps pulling up at the wall. I push it back down every time I walk by, but it just comes up again later. What can I do to really stick it back down? Glue? Nails?

A. Is there a tack strip under the edge of the carpet? If so, you can press the carpet down and tap it with a hammer to drive the backing into the tack strip points. If there is no tack strip, you can use some double-sided carpet tape or even a small line of adhesive.

Q. I can't stand my "popcorn" ceilings. I have put up with them for years and they are a mess. Every time I try to clean them, pieces break off and then I have to clean the floors again. I can't imagine trying to paint them. So what do you do? Is there an easy way to get rid of them?

A. Back when this stuff was created, it did a great job of texturing and even helped with sound dampening. But it is dated these days and hard to clean as well as paint. It's usually pretty easy to remove. Cover everything with a dropcloth, because this is a very messy job. Just spray a fine mist over the ceiling and give it a minute to soak into the popcorn. Then use a wide putty knife or trowel to scrape it off. It should come off quickly and easily. If not, mist it again. If it's been painted more than once, it will be harder to remove. Good luck!

Reader tips

• Our refrigerator has been making a weird noise for a while now. So far it's working just fine, but the noise persists. It was really hard to describe, so I recorded it with my phone. I took the recording to the hardware store and played it for a couple of the guys and they figured out what it was and ordered the part I needed to fix it. This phone has really come in handy for more than just phone calls!

• I love our wood floors and would never do anything to scratch them. In fact, I've discovered that you can set things on a rug and pull them around. A blanket would work, too, if it's thick enough not to tear. It's also easier on your back, and I usually can do it without any help. We always have a rug around anyway, just because they are great for protecting the floors.

• Our ceilings are vaulted and we have a hard time getting to the cobwebs up high. I finally devised a wonderful tool to make this easier. What I did was take a long section of thick-walled PVC pipe and attached a duster to the end of it. It's about 10 feet long, so I can reach up to about 16 feet, which is plenty of height, even for the very top corners.

• We used carpet squares when we upgraded our basement. With two dogs and three kids, we knew we probably would have to replace them periodically. One problem I've noticed is that some will come unstuck. I just cover them with a towel and use an iron over that to reactivate the adhesive strips on the back. It works most of the time.

• My husband and I are redoing our old dining-room table. We are stripping it down to the original wood surface. I love the orange strippers because they are safer and smell a lot better, but you still have to get the gooey paint off. We were using small putty knives but switched to my dustpan. It's a lot wider, so it gets a wide swath off all at one time. Plus, the old paint ends up in the pan, so it's easy to dump out. This was a superfast way to clean off the old stuff, so we thought we'd pass it along to you to use in your column. Thanks for all of your help. We sure could use it!


• Recessed "can" lights have been very popular for several years, but the bulbs are expensive, are costly to use and usually are hard to get to when they burn out. Standard LED bulbs won't make good replacements because of the heat issues with cans, as well as the way most LEDs look. Most home centers are selling decent LED retrofits for these fixtures. also has one. It has a screw-in bulb base and, with a few other adaptations, will make switching to LEDs easy. Since LEDs have about a 50,000 hour life span, they will last for years and cost a fraction of what you are paying for electricity now.

• When it comes to repairing damaged wood on things like frames or intricately carved items, QuickWood Epoxy Putty Stick is a super and fun option. This putty is a true epoxy and has a two-component formula, although it looks more like a piece of candy. It comes in a tube and you just open the package and cut off what you need. Then you knead it in your hands to mix the two compounds to form a pliable putty. You can push it into the damaged area and shape it with your hands or other tools. It eventually will set up to a super-hard, woodlike material that is sandable and paintable. It even comes in colors, so you might not have to do much in the way of finishing. It won't shrink or pull away, either. To find out more, you can go to the manufacturer website at, or just see it at your hardware store or home center.

• Write to Al and Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit the Carrells' website at

2013, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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