Concrete block is a sturdy building material, but it can present a slight design challenge when it's time to personalize a space. However, hanging pictures on a concrete block wall is not as difficult as it might seem. With the right products or a little bit of ingenuity, you can hang artwork without drilling into the wall.
Adhesive Wall Hooks
If the concrete block wall is painted and has a relatively smooth—not porous—finish, hanging pictures may be as simple as installing removable adhesive wall hooks. Damage-free adhesive picture hangers come in a range of styles and sizes. Clean the wall with rubbing alcohol, then peel off the paper backing from the adhesive hook and press in place for 30 seconds. Allow an hour for the adhesive to set before hanging the picture. Weight limits vary by product, with the strongest picture-hanging hooks supporting a maximum of eight pounds.
Hardwall hangers are picture hooks intended specifically for difficult surfaces like concrete block and brick walls. The plastic hook attaches to the wall with small metal nails that pound into the wall surface with a hammer. These hooks can support up to 25 pounds and can be pried from the wall when they are no longer needed.
This is a reliable old-school option. Masonry nails are made of hardened steel to resist bending when driving into concrete, concrete block, brick and mortar. They come in a few different styles and a wide variety of sizes. All masonry nails are strong enough for picture hanging, but they should go into the wall 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches deep for maximum holding power. If the nails will be exposed, choose the style based on appearance. Standard masonry nails have a thick, fluted shank and a dull gray finish. "Bright" masonry nails often have smoother shanks and a shiny silver color. Cut or flat masonry nails look like old-fashioned cut nails for wood; you might use these for a rustic touch.
Driving Masonry Nails
As you might expect, nailing into masonry is much harder than going into wood, but the basic action is the same. Follow these tips for the best results:
- Use the heaviest hammer you have. A framing hammer, bricklayers hammer or even a small sledge works better than a standard finish hammer.
- Always wear safety glasses: the hardened steel nails can eject shards of metal or break off bits of masonry grit and send it flying toward you.
- Drive the nail into a mortar joint, not into a block, which can crack.
- Keep the nail and hammer as straight as possible, and hit the nail like you mean it; tentative taps with the hammer are likely to chip the mortar, creating a divot that won't hold the nail.
- Once the nail is set, driving it further is pretty straightforward, but again, keep the hammer straight so you don't force the nail sideways—another way to chip the mortar.
Check the weight of your picture before deciding on a hanging solution to ensure that the picture will remain securely in place once installed.
Jennifer Roberts has enjoyed writing since 2008. Her professional experience includes computer aided drafting and design in the hospitality industry, graphic design for several nationally televised PGA Tour events, and an adjunct professorship in Computer Aided Design. She holds a Bachelor of Science in architecture from the University at Buffalo.