Frames are the perfect way to hang artwork and photographs on the walls of our home. Frames will reflect and enhance what you're putting inside the frame, along with the type of glass you use to protect things. You also need to consider the weight of the final, framed object when adding the wiring on the back and deciding how to hang the frame.
Most walls are made of sheet rock (also called drywall) and their thickness varies from one quarter inch to 5/8ths inch. For lighter pictures and the right hanging hardware, the drywall will be strong enough. As your framed artwork gets heavier, you'll want to find the wall studs so you know the screws are secured in wood. Here are tips for different ways to find wall stud …
Basics of Wall Framing
Look at one of the walls in your home, a long wall. Most walls are 8 ft tall, the most common size for sheet rock being 8 ft by 4 ft (drywall does come up to 4 x 16 ft). These drywall sheets are nailed or screwed to wall studs which frame each room, as well as the exterior walls of the house. The vertical pieces of wood behind your wall are called wall studs. Wall studs are generally 16 inches apart, measured from the center of one stud to the center of the next stud, called “16 on center” and abbreviated OC.
The easiest way to find the wall studs is with an electronic stud finder. An electronic stud finder measures the relative density of the wall as you move the it across the wall horizontally. A magnetic stud finder, the more traditional tool, locates studs by finding the nails/screws used to hold the sheet rock in place. It's a little harder to use as the nails may fall below or above the stud find as you move it across the wall so you have to sweep the wall.
Here are some tips for making it easier to find your wall studs.
- Find an electrical outlet near where you want to hang your picture. Why? Electrical outlet boxes are attached to the side of a stud, on either the left of right.
- Once you find one wall stud, you can generally move 16 inches in either direction to find the next wall stud. Be careful where there are doors and windows as they cause irregular spacing because they require framing around the opening, called a “rough opening” to support the door/window.
- Double check to make sure you've found the wall stud, and if you want to be extra careful, you can drill a tiny hole just above the baseboard to make sure you hit wood, not air.
- Invest in an electronic stud finder for $15 to $20 and make the job easier!
Note: Occasionally wall studs will be 24 inches on center, instead of the normal 16 inches on center. Older homes, especially those with horsehair plaster walls will likely have non-standard distances between the wall studs. That is why these older homes often have wood trim just below the ceiling to support hanging pictures from wire.