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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Kansas City, Missouri
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    Default How Do I Hang Picture Rail?

    I have a 1935 Storybook style house, wood lathe and plaster. I pryed off all the old gunky painted pine picture rail and want to put up new pine picture rail. It's purchased, cut to fit, stained, and poly'd. Now all I have to do is hang it up. Question is how to hang to make sure nothing falls off the walls. I'm guessing a stud finder is going to be my friend here. Are finishing nails suitable? Should one nail go into every stud? I want to make sure nothing falls off the wall. I will be hanging this about a half inch below a concave crown moulding the way the one I took off was. Thanks for the help!

    EDIT: Some google searching turned up someone that said to use liquid nails first, set the moulding, then come back with a nail gun to shoot it into the studs. Some houses apparently had double 2X4s running horizontal around the perimeter of the crown moulding areas so that you could hang picture rail strongly. Any ideas if a 1935 house would have had these?
    Last edited by KCPumpkinStalker; 01-29-2009 at 11:41 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Needham, MA
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    559

    Default Re: How Do I Hang Picture Rail?

    if you want to save buying a stud finder, which doesn't work super well with plaster and lath walls. mark out where the picture molding will go, use a finish nail and tap in it in several spots, that will be covered by the molding, until you hit a stud then measure every 16" to locate all the studs. then use finish nails to attach the molding into every stud, counter sink the nails and fill with a stain matching wax crayon which you should be able to get where you bought the stain.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    7,189

    Default Re: How Do I Hang Picture Rail?

    Most walls are constructed with a double 2x top plate. The first ties the studs together, the second is a "collar tie" which ties all the walls together once they're stood up and in place. Odds are, if you've already got crown, you'll be well below both of those 2x's and relegated to finding the studs in the wall.

    I don't believe that construction adhesive is going to be of any value here because of the trim dimensions and it's small footprint on the wall. I'd also have some misgivings about relying on the plaster to help hold it up.

    My first recommendation would be to install the new molding in the same manner that the old was, if that lasted 75 years, it couldn't have been too bad. After that, I'd be inclined to install a backer or ledger strip to the wall with screws into the studs, then attach the molding with glue and nails to that. This will provide much more strength and holding power than a mere nail in the wall, as well as beef up the molding to withstand the load of pictures without warping.

    Jkirk is probably the better one to be asking this question, he's the trim man around here.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Kansas City, Missouri
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    Default Re: How Do I Hang Picture Rail?

    Thanks! I have noticed that trying to use my stud finder on the plaster is frustrating and I get lots of erroneous signals. I like the idea of putting a backing piece behind the rail...but not sure if that will make it stick out too much from the concave crown. Will have to do some checking.

    I was leery about the construction adhesive too. There's barely enough room for a single bead running the length. I've never used a pneumatic nailer before, never had a reason. On my floor mouldings that I redid I used a hammer and punch, but as a website pointed out a nailer generates less vibration and disturbance of the plaster. If I rent one, what kind do I look for?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    7,189

    Default Re: How Do I Hang Picture Rail?

    Yeah, stud finders don't like plaster too much. LOL The nail probe is likely going to be the most accurate method.

    The ledger would be cut to the angle that the molding is held to the wall and should not/would not protrude above it. (see top of picture )


    As to a nailer, pneumatic nailers don't like plaster too well, particularly the hard stuff. It's not that you can't use one, but you can expect plenty of undriven, and horseshoe nails. The trick is to use a large gauge nail that will resist bending, and hold the nailer at a 90* angle to the wall so that the full driving force goes to penetration. You'll need to adjust your air pressure accordingly as well. You're probably going to need to use 2" nails so that you get penetration through the molding, the +/- 1" of plaster and lath, and good purchase into the stud.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
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    Default Re: How Do I Hang Picture Rail?

    Thanks for the info!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,836

    Default Re: How Do I Hang Picture Rail?

    On plaster and lath rather than a stud finder buy a few rare earth magnets, I like the ones the about the size of a quarter. Hold one lightly and slid on the wall, you will fell it grab when it goes across the nails used to attach the lathe to the stub. Do that at a couple of levels on the wall and you can establish a straight line where the stud is located.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

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