Sounds too good to be true, right? If a company told you that you could save yourself the pain of finding studs in walls, drilling, screwing and vacuuming, would you believe them? Well, 3M (makers of the humble Post-It) have come up with a range of clever velcro-like stickers called Command Strips that claim to do just that: hang a picture without drilling holes.

So, do they work? The short answer is yes,  very well… IF… you use it for hanging not-very-heavy pictures.

Here’s what you need.

The equipment

  1. 3M Command Strips
  2. A spirit level
  3. Your picture in a frame

The method

  1. You will need 8 individual “strips” per frame – 4 pairs. You might get away with half this number for very light frames, but my picture frame is a whopper. There are different sizes for different weights. The small ones made me too nervous so I bought a mixed pack of medium (up to 5kg) and large (up to 7kg) from Woodies for about 20 quid. My picture frame weighs 4kg so the medium should be fine.
  2. The first thing you notice about these is that they’re not quite like normal velcro. Both sides are interchangeable – not a soft one and a prickly one like you’d expect. They also stick together reassuringly well.
  3. Pair them together, pressing firmly, and remove one side of the backing. Stick these on the back of the frame on either side, positioning them at the very top, and then again about 2/3 down.
  4. Peel off the remaining backing, and – balancing a spirit level on top of your photo frame – place the frame against the wall so all 4 sticky sides are in contact. The bubble in the middle of the spirit level should be exactly between the lines.
  5. Press the frame into the wall firmly for about 30 seconds.
  6. Now rather counterintuitively, remove the frame from the wall. By pulling from the bottom of the frame, lift the frame off the wall. Don’t pull it straight towards you. If the last step was a success, you will have 4 strips stuck on the wall (of course I messed this bit up and had to go again!)
  7. Now press each of the 4 strips on the wall firmly against the wall with your thumb, and hold for 30 seconds.
  8. Leave it for an hour to dry and stick properly.
  9. Realign the picture frame with the strips on the wall and – again, using a spirit level – press firmly to attach the frame to the wall. There should be a satisfying “snap” noise as they connect.
  10. That’s it – no drilling required!

The real beauty here is that if you want to straighten the picture you can do so very easily, and if you want to remove it completely, you can remove the strips from the wall by pulling the tab straight down the wall (not towards you). I put it on a wall that had been painted a month previously, and it came off perfectly.

Ok, so what will it not do?

I tried to use the normal picture frame strips to hang up a coat rack. That lasted about an hour before it fell off even though the weight was under the limit listed. The shape of the coat rack was the problem – it wasn’t distributing the weight properly. The range from 3M does have a bunch of individual hooks and clips and things to make life easy – I also bought a version to hang up a towel in the bathroom which meant I didn’t need to drill through tiles.

Have you tried these? How did you find them?

– Seán

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