A Guide To Displaying Artwork Without Damaging Walls
Let's face it, a house isn't a home until there's some artwork up on the walls.
But sometimes, especially if you're renting, banging in nails or using screws may not be an option.
Even if you own the property, there's times when you may wish to redecorate or rearrange the art on the walls & the less damage caused saves a repair job later on.
Can art be hung without damage to the walls? Yes, not only can you hang & display art without nails, art can also be hung on your walls with minimal to no damage. Depending on the type of wall & size & weight of artwork, damage can be totally avoided & other times minimalized.
Most times it's difficult to totally avoid some damage, but it can certainly be minimized so only a simple repair job is required if the artwork is ever taken down.
I'll cover those methods later in the article, but first, here are some completely damage free ways to display art.
No Nails Needed! 9 Creative Ways To Display Art Without Damaging Walls
When hanging artwork on walls, it's unavoidable that some small amount of damage may occur, especially using more secure methods like nails, screws & hooks.
Here are some creative ideas that avoid the need for nails or screws & can even be more a unique way to display your artworks.
1. Hang A String Line
Although this will require using a couple of screws, it allows you to hang multiple artworks.
Affix a screw in each corner of a wall & stretch string, or to hold more weight, fishing line to each screw.
Depending on the type of artwork, you can use pegs, bulldog clips or any other way to attach your pictures that captures your imagination.
Depending on your décor style, mesh can be used to great effect for hanging art.
Once adorned with pictures it can also serve as a room divider.
You may be able to simply lean it against the wall, or a couple of screws will hold it in place.
There’s decorative woven mesh which can come in diagonal or square formats & for creating an industrial or rustic feel, use concrete reinforcing mesh.
You could probably even find some for free that’s being thrown out at building sites.
A fantastic DIY project for the weekend.
Using timber, old pallets or any material you like, similar to the mesh idea, you can create your own framework to hang your artwork from.
Pegboards are another interesting item to use.
4. Slide Binders
These are perfect for hanging unframed posters.
Simply slide a binder onto the top and bottom, the top binder having string run through it for hanging.
Not only does it hold the poster flat, only a single nail or tack is required.
5. Washi Tape
Washi tape is Japanese masking tape with a difference.
It’s a high quality tape made from rice paper.
You can write on it, tear it and reposition it.
Because it’s low tack it won’t damage walls & when it comes time to remove, simply lift a corner and peel it off at a 45 degree angle.
It comes in so many wonderful designs and patterns, it’s more than just a way to stick up your posters.
As well as being wallpaper friendly, it’s actually been used as a wallpaper & has been used to create designs and cover entire walls.
No need to touch your walls at all.
A really creative way to display artwork & is perfect for that boho or rustic look.
Old chairs & artists easels can look really fabulous.
Old school wood or metal ladders work great too & you can also display other items alongside the artwork such as books or other ornaments.
With a bit of imagination, many home décor items could be used for displaying artworks.
Obviously to avoid damage you'd already need to have wall shelves!
Depending how high the shelves are, you could try hanging art from them too.
Bookshelves can also be used & if they're high enough as well, artwork can also be hung from them.
Should you be lucky enough to have an open fire or a mantle, it's the perfect place for simply resting an artwork upon.
Usually larger artworks will look best & becomes a wonderful focal point of the room.
9. The Floor
Artwork can look pretty cool & bohemian simply leaning against the wall on the floor.
Again, larger artworks seem to look more balanced & more minimally furnished rooms are more suited to this style.
Other items, like a stack of books or even potted plants, can be arranged to make it appear more purposeful & to create a focal point in the room.
9 Methods For Hanging Art With Minimal To No Damage
If you do need to use nails, screws or hooks of some description, here are some ways you can minimalize the damage to the wall & even have an insignificant repair when the art is taken down.
1. Nails - Suitable For Drywall
Not suitable for brick or concrete walls, but if you have drywall or plasterboard then nails can be a quick & simple option.
Most drywall is about 10 millimetres thick (0.4 inch).
Lighter artworks such as canvas prints may only require a smaller nail or tack, but anything more substantial will need longer or more robust nails.
In this case you'll need to find the wall studs.
If you're lucky, the studs are placed where you want to hang the artwork, otherwise other methods will need to be used.
As far as repairing any damage, you'll need to use a filler & paint over the area.
If you don't have the original paint, take a small paint chip to your hardware or paint store & they'll be able to match it.
2. Screws - Suitable For Drywall, Brick & Concrete
A very secure method for hanging artwork, especially when used in brick or concrete.
Most times you'll need to drill first & use a wall plug.
Whether it's drywall, brick or concrete, if the walls are plastered then the holes can be filled & painted.
Exposed brick is a bit trickier.
A good tip is to drill into the mortar, this way the holes can be filled & are far less noticeable.
Patch repairs are available for fixing concrete, usually used for cracks & larger structural repairs.
But if you have some beautiful exposed or polished concrete in your home, then it's probably best to totally avoid using screws at all.
For drywall and plasterboard, there are specially designed screws & anchors that allow more weight to be hung.
These all require drilling a hole, so again, filling & painting will need to be done to repair the damage.
3. Hooks - Suitable For Drywall, Brick & Concrete
There's a variety of hooks available, all suitable for different walls.
Picture Hanging Hooks For Drywall
Using these style hooks are like using a nail, as they're basically a nail with a hook attached.
Available in various sizes, which means you can use a size suitable to the thickness of the drywall.
Screw Hooks For Drywall, Brick & Concrete
Just a screw really, but with a hooked end.
Also available in small to larger & more robust sizes.
Just like using a standard screw, a wall plug will be necessary for brick & concrete.
With drywall, providing you're hanging a small & lightweight artwork, a smaller screw hook may be all that's needed.
Otherwise locating a wall stud will be necessary.
Press In Hooks For Drywall
A quick & simple method for drywall, simply press into the wall.
They do come in various sizes & some will have more hooks to press into the wall, so a reasonable size artwork could be hung providing it's not too heavy.
Monkey or Hercules Hooks For Drywall
Now these aren’t called Hercules Hooks for nuthn’!
They’re designed for drywall and plasterboard and simply pierce through the wall and are capable of holding 150 lbs, that’s 60 kg .. (supposedly).
Need proof? Watch the video below.
Adhesive Hooks For Smooth Surfaces
Not recommended for plasterboard or textured walls, but adhesive hooks can be used on painted walls, tiles & even smooth or lacquered wood.
Available in a variety of shapes & styles, the strongest ones are rated to hold approximately 2 kg (5 lbs) .. again, supposedly.
Being adhesive of course, they'll more than likely take any paint with them when removed, or at the east leave some sort of marking.
I suppose it depends on the surface, tiles for example could be easily cleaned.
Reusable Hooks For Smooth Surfaces
Depending on the size, or footprint, reusable hooks will vary in their load rating.
Some claim to hold 500 grams whilst others 5 kg (1 to 11 lbs).
Some work by suction, other use a sticky gel & they work by simply pressing them to the surface & pushing out any air bubbles.
Both types are removable & will work on steel, glass, tiles & even splashbacks.
Because you'd only use these on a smooth surface, they create no damage when removed.
Hardwall Hooks For Concrete
Designed to hammer straight into concrete & masonry.
The surface does need to completely smooth though for these hooks to sit in full contact with the wall.
Rated to hold 10 to 15 kg (22 to 33 lbs), the nails are built into the hook itself, so just a good wallop will drive them home.
4. Command Strips
Although there are other brands, Command Strips are the market leader & most talked about adhesive strips.
Personally, I've never used them, but I did a LOT of digging around & checking out forums & reviews.
The verdict seems pretty mixed to be honest.
There’s a few independent review sites that have tested them with excellent results.
They state that if you follow 3M’s instructions correctly, and by using the right amount of strips they can hold quite a bit of weight, up to 7 kg, or 15 lbs.
Also there’s a correct way to remove them, that if applied to the surfaces recommended, they can be removed without causing damage to your wall.
Then you read the comments section!
A lot of people have had artworks fall off the wall as well as paint coming off too.
They’re also quite expensive and more time consuming to apply.
You need to use rubbing alcohol to clean the surface they’re being applied to, not just any household cleaner.
You’ll also need more than one pair of strips to hang anything of a decent size.
This means you can be spending $10 or more to hang one picture.
Personally, I’d trust a nail or hook with any artwork that you value over a sticky strip any day, no matter how well rated they’re supposed to be.
But if you're interested in finding out for yourself, you can visit 3m’s Command Brand website which provides full instructional video and other FAQs.
Velcro & Command Strips are kind of the same product.
Without writing a thesis on the history of Velcro, it’s actually a trademark for the hook & loop system that other brands, including Command Brand, use for their adhesive strips.
So whichever brand name, Velcro just referrers to the hook & loop technology used.
This type of hanging strip is also available in round tabs & patches.
Rated to be industrial strength, they're capable of holding a surprising amount of weight.
But they need to be applied & adhered to the wall & the back of the artwork correctly.
As far as a damage free way to hang art, they're only as strong as the adhesive used to stick them to the wall.
So for any decent size artwork, it's probably easier to use a nail or screw & repair the small hole left behind rather than trying to remove a strip of strong adhesive.
The smaller tabs & patches are probably okay for posters, especially if used on a smooth wall such as concrete or tiles.
6. Drawing Pins & Tacks
Only suitable for posters & photo prints really, but they will leave tiny holes not only in the photos & prints, but in the wall too.
They'll stick into drywall, but they're not strong enough to stick into masonry or concrete though.
Good old Blu-Tack, it will stick to anything but won't hold anything of any weight.
A better option than pins & tacks if you're going to be putting up posters, as it can be peeled off the back of the poster & the wall without creating any damage.
Blu-Tack can leave stains, but it's relatively easy to clean off any residue.
On quality paint it will peel off & clean up just fine, but be aware with cheaper paints as they can absorb the grease from this product.
The trick to removing Blu-Tack is to peel it off, not pull it off.
You can even use the removed Blu-Tack & roll it over any bits left behind to remove those too.
It's not ideal on wallpaper or textured walls, as it gets stuck in the actual texture & can be difficult to totally clean off.
8. Picture Rails
The perfect solution to hang any art without having to touch the walls.
Ideal if you have wallpaper.
Some older homes still retain the original picture rails, but they're simple enough to install into newer properties.
If you're a handy type, you could make your own & install them yourself.
But modern picture rail systems, or tracks, are available & they're pretty fabulous how they work.
They can be fixed in the corner of the wall & ceiling, thus looking like a cornice.
Check out the video below to see one in action.
9. Magnetic Paint
Did you even know about magnetic paint?
I certainly didn't until I started writing this article!
The more coats you apply, the stronger it becomes, although it doesn't cover as far as standard paint.
It's only available in grey, but it can be painted over.
It's actually a primer with iron powder added, so you could make it yourself if you're keen.
Not sure which option would be cheaper though.
The video below shows just how magnetic it can be.
Walls can be pretty uninteresting without some form of décor or artwork on them.
But at the same time, you don't want to create too much of a repair job when you decide to take the art down.
More so in rental properties as this can be a real challenge.
Before banging in that nail, with a bit of foresight it's possible to minimize the harm caused to the walls & save yourself a bigger repair job later on.
I hope this article was helpful & please feel free to share if someone else may find value in it.