Monday, January 28, 2008

Picture rail

The remainder of the picture rail hardware that I ordered arrived the other day. I am a big fan of picture rail. The idea that you don't put any holes in your plaster walls makes a lot of sense to me. Since I just put several months into patching and repairing plaster on the bedroom walls, it was only logical that I install a picture rail to keep them safe. It also gives the room a nice sense of scale.I guess I sort of understand folks that have drywall and no picture rail. These are mostly non-historic homes and drywall seems somewhat of an irreverent material anyway. Is there a real reason to protect it? I am also sure that folks with drywall would prefer to get excited by products like the Hercules Hook anyway. I know that my affinity for imperfect plaster and exposed hangers is not shared by everyone but for folks with older homes, I just don't get it.

I have been in and out of hundreds of old and historic homes in the Chicago area - most with this feature. Unfortunately, people either don't know what the rail is for or they seem to prefer to bang a nail, damaging 100 year old plaster to hang stuff. Is there a sadistic tendency that people have towards plaster that I am not getting? Is there something "magical" about a concealed nail and hook? We know there's something behind the frame holding that picture up so why not show it off a bit?

In each of the places we have lived in Chicago, we have utilized the rail to hang our artwork and people have always commented, saying how interesting it was. I am not sure if they were actually admiring it or if they were thinking to themselves: "That's the weirdest shit I've ever seen, I can't believe they would hang their pictures that way". I would like to think it's the former but you never really know. Either way, I like it and will stick to my guns.

The hardware I got is pretty nice and unlike the "plain" hooks and wire I was getting at Home Depot. It came from an online store, House of Antiques. Along with a wide array of hooks, I got copper-colored fabric wire for all of the rooms except my daughter's. For hers, I got an ivory color.

I have pretty much re-hung all of the art in our house. In the midst of working on a year-long project like the bedroom, it's nice to have a few small victories to keep me going. The pictures, mostly artwork created by friends, all look great. Now I just need to finish work on all the walls behind them.

26 comments:

Jen said...

Can't wait until we install picture rail. Most of it was removed by the PO's. It amazes me that when I try to explain how I want the crown and picture rail to look, people give me such a blank stare. "Wake up People and get a clue....this is an old house."

Jennifer said...

I wish we had picture rail. It seems so logical (although those hercules hooks ARE nice on our cheap drywall).

I always admire houses that have it... it makes the ceilings look so much taller, and really gives pictures and paintings a "professional" look!

Andy said...

I confess. I never had any idea what the picture rail was for, and I grew up in a house with picture rail (and our current bungalow has it too). My parents never used the picture rail to hang pictures though, so I blame them. :)

I am glad we haven't really hung much of anything (though the PO drove nails through the walls all over the place, so go figure...).

Moxie said...

Looks great!
I wish we had one. I sat here for a minute debating installing one, but to be honest, we would probably find a way to ruin our plaster even more with our poor carpentry skills.

Nicolle said...

I just moved to a flat in San Francisco and am very excited to hang art work by the picture rail. I've started but am having trouble with the pictures hanging out at an angle from the wall. Do you have any suggestions/tricks to get them to hang straighter to the wall? Any advice would be most welcome. Thank you!

Tiny Oak Park Bungalow said...

The artwork hanging at an angle is a tough one. I have gotten used to it so it doesn't bother me. On some frames, you can put spacers - small (black) felt pads or something behind the back of the frame near the bottom to even them out a little. This also helps keep the frames from scratching the wall. Otherwise, your pictures will hang out from the wall at whatever angle as determined by the depth of your picture rail. One benefit of the angle is that it slightly cuts down on glare on the framed work from overhead lights.

Anonymous said...

How far the picture angles out from the wall is a function of how far from the top of the frame you atach the hanging cord. To keep the picture as vertical to the wall as possible, attch the hanger as close to the top edge of the frame as possible.

Some old photos of interiors, though, show pictures hung 'way up on the wall and strongly angled downward. Maybe that was to keep the kids or whatever from banging into them, but the angle still allowed you to view the picture from below.....

Bungalow Jo

Anonymous said...

I installed my picture rail into the fragile plaster walls by predrilling samll holes and screwing through the rail into the studs with finish screws (they have a narrow head and square drive, so they're easily disguised under a blob of wood filler).

Whatever you do, don't try to nail them up!

Bungalow Jo

Anonymous said...

How do you tie the picture rail into the window and door frames, so that the look is a finished one? An suggestions or pictures?
Thank you from Ontario, Canada.

Tiny Oak Park Bungalow said...

At our place, tying in happens two ways - In one room, the rail aligns, sitting just above the top of the molding on the window head. In the other, they are cut to die into the flat trim piece of the window head, just below the molding. I think that there are pics of the former in our bedroom if you click on the tag marked "picture rail". Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a good place in or around Chicago to get reasonably priced picture rail? I see some on line, but would rather stay local, plus not pay the shipping.

thanks,

Tiny Oak Park Bungalow said...

Both Menards and Lowes has picture rail or picture mould. I believe I got ours at Lowes because they had hardwood. If you want something specific, there are tons of local millworkers that have this adn are just as reasonable. Ashland is a good one. http://www.ashlandmillwork.com/trimprofiles.asp Good luck with your project.

Anonymous said...

how do you attach the cord to the picture?

Tiny Oak Park Bungalow said...

I typically screw eye hooks or screws to the back of the frame (attach to side rails not top rail), and then loop the chord around our through.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone used picture rail & moulding hooks to hang a curtain rod? I am trying to hang floor to ceiling drapes but have all plaster walls. I am looking for something I can hang off the moulding hook to hang the curtain rod on.

Tiny Oak Park Bungalow said...

I haven't seen it but I would bet you could hang drapes right from the rail, off the hooks. The only issue is putting it up and keeping them from slipping off.

Janice said...

Have you ever tried to hang a very large heavy piece using the picture rail? I have a painting that is 6' high and 4 1/2' wide. Picture rail is at about 7'. Thanks.

Chris said...

Janice, The largest thing I hung is roughly 3' square but it was pretty heavy. As long as the rail is secured well to the structure beyond and as long as you ahve proper attachment to the vertical parts of the picture frame, I don't see why it wouldn't work. Attaching to the vertical is key as doing it at the top will just rip the top piece of frame from the rest of the frame under the weight.

Chris said...

Janice, The largest thing I hung is roughly 3' square but it was pretty heavy. As long as the rail is secured well to the structure beyond and as long as you ahve proper attachment to the vertical parts of the picture frame, I don't see why it wouldn't work. Attaching to the vertical is key as doing it at the top will just rip the top piece of frame from the rest of the frame under the weight.

Anonymous said...

This is a helpful discussion about picture moulding rail because I am about to embark on hanging paintings from just such a rail that I recently discovered was in all the rooms of this new house we bought. I have been intimidated by the process, thus far. I bought proper hooks but that is as far as I have gone. I was considering using strong fishing line instead of the heavy cords usually featured on websites selling stuff for this. Has anyone had any experience with that?

San

Nick said...

Hi,

How does one tie the cord on the back of the frame? Im attempting to hang a 50 lb mirror from picture rail. I bought some heavy duty hooks and cord from house of hardware. Elsewhere online suggested 2 hooks for heavy items, but I cant figure the most attractive & secure way to tie it off. I realize this thread is a few years little old, but I hope you can help. Thanks, Nick

Chris said...

I usually attach it with a frame hanger. Like the ones shown here: http://www.framingsupplies.com/FrameHangers.htm They make them with multiple connections for the weight. The huge photo I did in the living room is at least 25lbs, maybe more and I used simple one-screw ones. They may even have a guide as to what size to use for what weight.

Lisa Cryer said...

Has anyone had any success with hanging curtain rods off picture rail? I am trying to find (without success) a hook that is long enough for the curtain rod to hang just below the picture rail.

Chris said...

I've never seen that done (hanging curtains from a picture rail) but I guess anything is possible.

Tawney said...

Hello- I know this is a very old thread, howvever, in case anyone (like me) has this site come up in a google search for hanging curtain rods from a picture rail I thought I would share. My husband and I have just moved into a redone 1920's house with new plaster walls. We would hate to damage in any way the old architecture but I have a LOVE for drapes and decor. After hours of trying to figure out a drape hanging solution, here is what I stumbled upon: http://www.ezcurtainrodbrackets.com/untitled1.html We will be using the center support brackets to hang our drapes from the picture rail. Hope this helps anyone else!

Anonymous said...

Tawney, thanks! That is great info. I'm ordering mine now.