Hanging a Mirror Without an Easy Stud – Where are They When You Need Them?

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This may seem like a dumbass tip, but because so many people have asked me how to handle this situation, I’m going to throw it out there. On multiple occasions, I’ve been approached for guidance on how to securely hang something heavy, such as a mirror, in an area where a stud isn’t located. I can tell you the correct answer is NOT to just wing it, bang a nail in, hang it anyway and cross your fingers. 

When hanging anything that has weight, especially something oversize and heavy, like a mirror, the hook and nail MUST go into a stud. At times, an item is so heavy it requires more than one hook and nail. But what if the stud isn’t in the right spot?

This is a very common issue in the bathroom or bedroom, because often times a mirror needs to be centered over a sink, vanity or low set of dressers. You need that stud to be in just the right spot. You’re dying for that stud to be in just the right spot. For the love of Pete, that stud could make your life so much more…enjoyable…by moving just a lousy, half an inch. That stud is so close…almost there…but might as well be a mile away. When that stud is just not “cooperating”, here’s an easy way to get the desired result:

1)      Locate at least one stud within the space you want to hang the mirror

2)      Span a piece of low profile wood, (like ½”, so it’s meaty enough to nail or screw through, but won’t push the mirror away from the wall too much), from the stud to where you want to place the picture hanger, and screw in wallboard anchors to secure the end that isn’t sitting over a stud for super strength. Of course if you can hit two studs instead of using anchors on one side, all the better.

You can use plywood or whatever; it doesn’t have to look great, because it’s hidden behind the frame. Yeah you can try mollies, which are a pain in the ass and often splinter, at least when I use them. They also can’t be removed from the wall, unless you dig them out. And, if you ever need to move the mirror, that means a huge hassle to patch and repaint. Wallboard anchors on the other hand, can easily be unscrewed and removed if needed, and leave a hole that requires minimal patching and touch up. You can even reuse them for another application if you want, unlike mollies.

Just make sure the length of the plywood is a bit less than the length of the frame so it’s not sticking out beyond the edges. Now that you’ve got a secure backing to work with, nail your picture hooks and nails wherever they need to be across any spot on the board. The board gives you the solid backing needed, in the exact area you want to hang the mirror. Now, the mirror is centered over the vanity and an added benefit is, you don’t have to worry about a beheading when you lean into the sink to spit.

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About Liz

Liz is a professional, custom picture framer based in Central New York. She and her contractor husband are currently renovating their second home together. At the time of this writing, they are not on speaking terms. Her love of making stuff with wood and DIY home projects began by watching her Dad. (It was also around this time Liz's incessant use of "colorful language" took root.) She's an avid gardener, stellar cook and doesn't throw like a girl: an all-around rad chick.

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2 thoughts on “Hanging a Mirror Without an Easy Stud – Where are They When You Need Them?”

  1. People using drywall anchors need to know how thick the drywall is. I have 1/8″ drywall! No anchor is going to hold something so heavy on such a thin drywall. The method here sounds promising however, the other problem is the studs are 24″ apart, the mirror only 20″wide. I might take the wall down and see if I can add more studs (small bathroom) or add a small 1/2″ square board along the bottom to help hold some the heavy weight.

  2. I’ve used drywall anchors to hang a very heavy mirror (50+ ponds). The anchor is rated fir the weight without a stud. There’s even a locking clip. The mirror’s been hanging for a few years now and has endured several small earthquakes out here in so. California without incident.

    I have used this plywood method before, hanging large flat panel TV’s; way too heavy for drywall alone.


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