Heavy art on stud walls


hanging a heavy mirror, mirror installation, hanging art on stud wall

A heavy 2.4 metre-wide mirror safely installed on Cathy and Allan’s plaster/stud wall.

french cleat uses 45 degree angle timbers, monkey-grip, unbreakable grip, supports heavy artwork

Close-up shows how the 45 degree angles dovetail together.


Is your wall brick or plaster? It’s important to know before you hang a heavy artwork or install a mirror. Recently this 2.4 metre wide 100 kg mirror had to be installed on a plaster and stud wall. A weight like this is too much for plaster alone to support. The solution is french cleats, an age-old hanging device that is screwed onto  the back of the frame. Its counterpart is fastened to the wall with anchor points at the studs. The mirror is lifted into position with its cleats effectively forming a ‘monkey grip’.

(Thanks to Kathy and Allan Harvey for allowing the use of their home to demonstrate.)

Four simple steps. (Tread carefully.)

Step 1. Locate the studs using an electronic stud finder or, with the skill of a thoracic surgeon, rap on the wall to locate them by ear. Now fix the ‘bottom’ half of your french cleat to the wall at the studs using screws heavy enough to support the weight of the mirror. Make sure the cleat is perfectly level or there’ll be trouble later!

french cleat, Z-bar, hanging heavy mirror, stud wall, stud finder

Attaching the cleat to timber studs through a plasterboard wall.

Step 2. Attach the other half of the cleat to the back of the mirror frame. If the frame is well constructed, fix it to the top frame member, which will allow the whole thing to hang. If the frame’s corner joints look weak, put the cleat on the bottom bar in order to support the mirror’s weight from beneath. Anchor it to a couple of studs at the top to prevent an otherwise inevitable slow-motion topple forward!

Step 3. Using enough people-power to avoid back injuries (search out strong young family members), lift the mirror and hang its cleat over the cleat on the wall. Make sure everybody keeps their weight under it while someone checks to make sure the cleats are securely locked together.

Step 4. Finally, check for level. If it’s not, you’ll need to measure how far out it is, take the mirror down then re-position one of the cleats accordingly. (Remember, I did say, at Step 1, you should be very careful here.)

french cleat, Z-bar, hanging heavy mirror, installing large artwork

Drilling pine cleat for attachment to back of mirror frame.

Tools required.
• Electronic stud finder
• Drill
• Spirit level
• Suitable heavy screws for stud walls (countersunk) or expanding bolts for brick
• Appropriate ladder or platform

Lifting heavy mirror onto french cleats, hanging heavy mirror, installing large paintings, heavy artwork

Positioning the mirror by ‘locking’ one cleat over the other.

To make a booking or ask about a job, please phone me from 9.00am – 6.00pm, Mon – Friday on 0403 803 015. Or email: philkinin@netspace.net.au

Servicing all metro Melbourne as well as country areas by arrangement.