We received a call from a lady recently who asked “Can I hang a mirror on a plaster wall?”
Just the word alone conjures images of dust, debris, and cracks in the wall the length of a football field. Plaster is generally found in older structures (predating 1950). It is a type of wet mud that is trawled onto wooden or metal lathe. The plaster pushes into the lathe and hardens. The older it is the more likely it is to crack or crumble. So needless to say the idea of hanging a heavy framed mirror on a plaster wall makes even the most experienced installer cautious.
As you may or may not know, according to the unofficial installers handbook:
If you should “never hang a mirror on a wire”, what should you do?
A large portion of our business has been mirror and artwork installations. For almost every mirror that we have installed over the years, we have used either a french cleat type mounting or we a direct mount technique where the mirror has D-Rings attached to the back of the frame and heavy duty hooks on the wall. Hanging a mirror using one of these methods is more difficult than a single hook on the wall to catch a wire, but these methods, when implemented properly, are more secure and distribute the weight of the mirror better.
In the installer’s perfect world, the mirror will have a nice, thick wooden frame around it, with no wire attached to it and the D-Rings will already be in place and they will be at identical points on each side of the frame.
However, this Utopia does not exist.
Some older mirrors have thin wooden frames and rusted wires that can’t be removed or adjusted. In that situation, the installer has to disregard Rule #7 and hang the mirror as is. Some mirrors have metal frames and there is no way to add or remove hardware to the back so the installer has to work with what he has been given.
How do you hang a mirror on a plaster wall?
For this project, we held the mirror up for the client to determine how high they wanted it installed. We then measured the back of the mirror to find out how far from center each D-Ring was located. We then transferred those measurements to the wall to mark the location of the hooks.
Because these walls were plaster, we have to take additional steps to reduce the risk of cracks and crumbling wall materials. We used a small piece of painters tape to hold the hook in place temporarily. (The hook is actually larger than it looks. It is rated for up to 100 lbs.) We also used a Post-It note as a makeshift dust catcher.
With our dust catcher in place and the hook loosely secured to the wall with tape, we used a 1/16″ drill bit to pilot a small starter hole for the nail to be used with the picture hook.
After the hole has been drilled, the nail is inserted into the hook and tapped flush into the plaster wall.
The painters tape (and dust catcher) are then removed and the process is duplicated on the other side.
The mirror is then hung on the hooks and we made sure to remove any fingerprints or smudges from the glass.