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. It’s a good surface for a lightweight wall and for paint or wallpaper, but it’s just not sturdy enough for hanging heavier stuff. But there are tons of different kinds of 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 that 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.


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? – W.R.

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!


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? – J.N.

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.


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.

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