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How to fix items securely to a wall

Fix items securely to a wall

Step-by-step guide to putting up shelves, picture frames, mirrors, blinds, curtains and wall brackets.

When hanging something on a wall, whether it's a shelf, curtain pole, picture or flowering basket, you need a strong fixing to make sure the item stays attached. Always check for hidden pipes and electric cables with an electronic detector before drilling into a wall.

Tools and materials

Cordless drill

Quantity: 1

Spirit level

Quantity: 1


Min 1

Wall brackets

Quantity: Optional

Ideal for the job

Pipe and wire detector

Pipe and wire detector
Never drill blind into a wall - you might hit gas or water pipes or electrical wires. An electronic pipe and wire detector is inexpensive and essential for making sure it is safe to drill. A triple detector will also find wood, so is extremely useful for locating studs in a partition wall.

A cordless power drill

A cordless power drill
A power drill with hammer action will drill holes in masonry or wood for hanging items indoors and outdoors.

Shelving brackets

Shelving brackets
Brackets may be fixed or part of an adjustable shelf system. Both types are available in light, medium or heavyweight versions.

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Putting up a fixed shelf

The simplest shelf supports are non-adjustable brackets, which are ideal for putting up a single shelf. Space the brackets according to the shelf material, its thickness and the load the shelf will be supporting. For more detail, see you can do it - the complete B&Q step-by-step book of home improvement. Brackets are fitted with the longer arm against the wall and the shorter one under the shelf, so the length of the longer arm will determine how closely shelves can be fitted one above the other if you want to put up more than one shelf.

1 Hold the shelf against the wall and mark where you want the bottom to go. Then mark where the first bracket should be, as well as the distance to the next bracket. Check the marks are level with a spirit level.

2 Hold the first bracket up to the mark, checking it is vertical, and mark the wall through the fixing holes. Repeat with the second bracket. If there are more than two brackets, fit them between the outer brackets, equal distances apart.

3 Drill into the wall, insert wallplugs if you have a masonry wall, and screw the brackets in place. Lay the shelf across, and make a mark through the holes in the brackets for the fixing screws underneath it. Take the shelf down and drill pilot holes for the short screws, but be sure not to go right through the shelf. Replace the shelf and screw home the fixing screws.

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Putting up a curtain track

When putting up a curtain track or a pole, either buy the correct length or get one longer than you need and cut it to fit. The screws supplied with your curtain track may not be long enough to achieve a secure fixing. In that case, use longer screws and wallplugs, or screw into sound ceiling timber. The window top or ceiling may not be quite level, so mount the track parallel to whichever is the most horizontal.

1 Decide on the correct length of track to accommodate your curtains and cut it to length using a fine-tooth hacksaw. Remove any burrs from the cut ends with a craft knife or a file. If the window is wide and the curtains thick, the track will need to extend further than if the material is lightweight. Calculate how much the track will reach beyond the recess. Use a ruler and pencil to extend the top line of.

2 Measure 25mm in from the end of the line and 50mm up; this is the fixing position for the end bracket. Repeat to find the position of the other end bracket. Mark the remaining fixing positions at equal intervals between the two end brackets, measuring 50mm up from the top of the window recess each time

3 Drill into the wall, insert wallplugs if you have a masonry wall, and screw the brackets in place. Lay the shelf across, and make a mark through the holes in the brackets for the fixing screws underneath it. Take the shelf down and drill pilot holes for the short screws, but be sure not to go right through the shelf. Replace the shelf and screw home the fixing screws.

4 To fit the end stops, slip one over each end of the track and tighten the retaining screws.

5 Place the track into the slot in one of the end brackets. Push the bracket latch until you hear a click. Clip the remaining track into place in the same way.

Putting up a curtain pole

Curtain poles are available in metal, wood or plastic. The curtains hang from matching rings or loops of fabric.

1 Find and mark the positions for the two end brackets (see Steps 1 and 2 Putting up a curtain track). For a curtain pole, however, the brackets should be at least 50mm from either end. The decorative brackets often fit over fixing bosses. Hold a fixing boss over the mark and use a pencil to mark the screw positions. Check there are no pipes or cables then drill at the marked positions with a masonry bit. Insert wallplugs and screw the bosses into place.

2 Fit each wooden wall bracket over a boss and secure with a screw. Assemble the pole and slide it through the two brackets. Leave one curtain ring on the outside of each bracket, with remaining rings between them. Tighten retaining screw on each boss. Push on the finials with a curtain ring in between.

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Fitting a roller blind

Measure the width required before you buy. Some blinds can be cut to fit so check the manufacturer's instructions.

1 Mark the positions for the brackets in the corners of the window. Fit the bracket for the blind control on the side from which you want to operate the blind. Use a bradawl to make starting holes, then drill and plug the wall and screw the brackets into place, checking they are level.

2 Fit the side control into the end of the blind, then push the dummy pin into the other end. Slot the blind into the fixing brackets. Ensure the cords are hanging down. Operate the blind to judge the correct length for each pull cord. Cut the cords, and fit a cord pull to each one.

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Hanging pictures

Pictures can be heavy so make sure the fixing is strong enough to take the weight. Single or double-pin picture hooks and masonry pins can be used with picture wire or cord for light- and mediumweight pictures. These extra-hard pins can be gently hammered straight into the wall.

Hanging pictures

Use two hooks spaced apart for a larger picture. Support a heavier picture with a screw fitted into a wallplug.

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Hanging mirrors

  • Small mirrors can be fixed to the wall with special adhesive pads.
  • Framed mirrors can be hung in the same way as pictures.
  • If you are hanging a heavy mirror, use mirror chain rather than picture wire or cord.
  • Mirrors with fixing holes can be hung by screwing mirror screws into wall plugs through the fixing holes in the mirror.
  • A chromium-plated domed cover hides the screw’s countersunk head.
  • Mirrors without pre-drilled holes can be hung with sliding clips which are attached to the top and bottom of the mirror. The clips for the bottom of the mirror are fixed while the top clips slide down over the top edge of the mirror.

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Hanging basket brackets

A fully planted basket, and especially one that has just been watered, is surprisingly heavy to support, so the bracket holding up your hanging basket must be very securely attached to the wall or wooden support. If attaching the bracket to a wooden support such as a pergola, make sure the support is sound and well anchored. Hang baskets well above head height to avoid accidents.

1 Mark the fixing holes in pencil and check they are vertical with a spirit level. Drill into the brick, not the mortar. Insert the right-sized wallplugs for the holes and screws. Fix the bracket to the wall and check that it is firmly attached.

2 Hang the basket to the bracket using the chains.

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