Monday, March 23, 2009

Hanging a Mirror

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

My beautiful bride purchased a mirror at Kirkland's and asked me to hang it in the entry way. The label states SKU 16-084713 "Mirror 30x60 Tortois". The mirror is not small, measuring 37" x 67", and weighs 39 pounds.

We have a high, presently empty entry way. Across from the stair landing, is a large bare wall with only a console table to break the expanse. Although the table is not small, it looks rather pathetic under the space. My bride wants the mirror installed on this wall, with the bottom located one foot above the table (or about 3.5' above the floor).

A label on the mirror's back states:


This item comes to you with special hangers securely fastened to the back. DO NOT USE PICTURE WIRE to hang this mirror/picture. Instead, drive the proper size picture hooks securely into the wall, spaced so that the hanger will hang from those hooks. This will give even distribution of weight and a safe installation. Picture wire does not evenly distribute the weight of the mirror/picture and causes strain on both wire and hangers.

Correct distribution of weight using two hooks insures safe installation.

Hmmm, how to attach a 39 pound mirror to a wall? What are the odds that studs will will be found 35" (hanger-to-hanger width) and centered on the wall? Small and I do not hit the jackpot. The wall is 102.5" wide. One stud is almost centered, probably to enable an electric outlet to be centered on the wall. A second stud is 12" to the right of the center stud and a third is about 22" to the left. Most studs are roughly 16" on center give or take an inch. Of course, I could be incompetent with my old stud finder. The distance is close to that between the right and left studs, but trying to use those studs would result in an off-center mirror. Despite my most winsome looks, my bride decides that an off-center mirror is not ok.

If the mirror is to be elegantly centered, I cannot follow the label's exhortation and "drive the proper size picture hooks securely into the wall". If driven directly into the wall at each hanger, the picture hooks would be driven into drywall only and that does not seem secure. I am aware of drywall anchors and molly bolts and head off into the DIY Internet.

The following information is based purely on reviewing internet material. I have no idea whether or to what extent any of this works. I would greatly appreciate comments from anyone who has experience with any of the below referenced products or approaches.

Most commenters encourage would-be mirror-hangers to use studs for at least two support points if at all possible. (Although a significant minority seem to believe that molly or expansion bolts in drywall would be sufficient.) Not wanting a shattered mirror and, even more importantly, damaged drywall in the foyer, I opt for the conservative approach and decide that I need to use the center and right studs if at all possible.

Several options are found. One writer suggests contacting a local ironmonger to obtain a metal plate that can distribute weight across the studs. Unfortunately, ironmongers are not common in Katy. Another option is to install a wooden bar, fastened with 3" wood screws at the center and right studs and perhaps using a molly bolt equidistant (12") to the left. I assume I would install heavy duty picture hooks at each end. The bar would be about 1/2" to 3/4" thick, 3" wide and 36" long. I do not yet know what hooks might work for mirrors or how they would be installed. One downside of this option is that the bar's thickness and the hook would cause the mirror top to lean forward considerably. Perhaps the hook could be installed on the top of the bar, rather than the front, but that would likely be weaker.

The best option appears to be through the use of a "French cleat". I have never heard of this before, but the concept is relative simple. Take a board, say a 1x6 plank, and rip down the middle with the saw blade tilted 45°. Half the board is installed horizontally on the wall with the cut on the top, angling from the front down to the wall. The other half is installed horizontally on the mirror with the cut on the bottom, with the angle such that the mirror-bound board fits with the wall-bound board as though whole. Instead of making a French cleat from wood, several metal options are also available and are referred to also as z-clips or z-hangers.

I am not sure of the material comprising the mirror frame. However, if it holds the hangers (D-rings), the material should holds a cleat. In order to make the mirror parallel with the wall and to provide additional support, cleats at the bottom and top seem best. Below are sites that may be of use. I have not yet begun to investigate what hardware stores in Katy might be best. If you have any experience hanging heavy mirrors on walls, please let me know your thoughts!

Information on French cleats:

Wouldn’t You Like to Hang a Heavy Mirror Like a Carpenter? (by Virginia Sole-Smith)

Instructions for creating a "French Cleat" to hang a mirror

Building a French Cleat (by Tom Hintz)

How to install a French cleat (video)

Different metal cleats

Rockler Steel Cleats

Aluminum Hanging Cleat

Aluminum Z-Clips

Carina Z Hanger

Hangman Products Z Hanger

Information on different drywall fasteners

Wall fixings for hollow surfaces

You Can Hang ALMOST Anything With Wall Anchors

Hangers, Screws & Anchors (Lowe's)

Choosing the Proper Fastener

How to hang stuff up

Plastic anchors

E-Z Products Self-Drilling Drywall Anchors

TOGGLER® Anchor System

Powers Fasteners

Good mirror-hanging sites that do not reference cleats

Hang a Heavy Mirror on Drywall

How to Hang a Large Heavy Mirror by Joyann Bradley

How to Hang Heavy Items on Walls

Hang Tight by Jay Somerset

Question: "Can you hang a 45 pound mirror on dry wall with no studs backing it?"

How to Use Anchor Screws

How to Hang Heavy Objects Using Toggle Bolts (video)

How to Hang a Cabinet (not very useful, but quite humorous)

Other products



Hangman System


Attach-It Picture Hanging System

Magic Hook


  1. Hello,
    Your blog is very useful. Thank you for sharing the articles you found. I also have a heavy mirror to hang. I like the French Cleat idea, but I don't think I can attach it safely to the back of the mirror without breaking it. I may end up attaching a strip of wood (slightly shorter than the width of the mirror) to the studs in the wall, then putting two screws into the attached strip of wood and hanging the mirror on them using the two D hooks that are already on the back of it. I think I can pull this off because the location of the studs is very close to where the D hooks need to hang and the D hooks are not to close to the edge of the mirror frame (this way the strip of wood on the wall will be completely hidden by the mirror). Still, if I could only glue/epoxy the section of the French cleat that is supposed to go on the back of the mirror... I'm not sure, though, if I will trust any type of glue to attach it securly. I will ask around at the hardware store... Thank you again for sharing all the info that you found!
    Ps. The Magic Hook website... It really doesn't seem like that thin piece of wire could hold up that much weight. I wonder if their patent will ever get approved!

  2. Marta, sorry that I have been negligent in getting back to the blog. I hope that you have been able to resolve your issue. I was able to attach one half of the cleat to the top frame of the mirror. This nice thing about the metal cleat is that the mirror hangs very flat to the wall. I agree with your Magic Hook assessment -- the little wire seems too good to be true. And, a patent doesn't mean that the invention works well.