It's easy to hang a framed picture with a hook or length of picture wire, but what do you do with a tapestry that is little more than a piece of cloth? The usual answer is to sew pockets to the top of the tapestry and insert a hanging rod. If your tapestry lacks rod pockets, you could always pin it to the wall, but who wants to deface a tapestry – especially a valuable one – by poking holes in it? You could try sticking the tapestry to the wall with tape, putty or Velcro, but that's an inelegant solution that will probably result in the tapestry falling off the wall. A more effective and aesthetic solution is to secure the tapestry with a length of hardwood screwed to the studs on either side of – or above – the wall hanging.
The piece of wood you use to hang your tapestry will remain visible and become a feature in the hanging, so choose wood that accentuates the colors in the tapestry. Maple and birch are closed-grained, blonde species that work well with pastels and whites, as do pine and fir. Ebony, rosewood and other dark-colored wood species – as well as redwood and cedar, which are brownish-red – highlight the lushness of deep reds, browns and other darker shades. If you prefer a contrast for a subtle tapestry design, you might consider a species with a dramatic grain, such as tigerwood or hickory.
Cut the wood anywhere from 2 to 6 inches wide – even wider for very large tapestries – using a table saw. You can make it long enough to extend to the wall studs on either side of the tapestry or, if you prefer, wide enough to allow you to drive screws above the tapestry. The pressure of the screws against the wall will hold the tapestry in place, so you won't have to penetrate the cloth with the screws. Sand and finish the wood to make an attractive complement to your wall hanging.
Hang the Tapestry
The procedure for hanging the tapestry involves securing the wood to the wall with the top of the tapestry sandwiched between it and the wall. The tapestry should be straight – which means you need to level the wood before attaching it – and the screws should be secure, which means driving them into studs or wall anchors. You can use this method to mount a tapestry on masonry or brick as well as drywall, but you'll have to pre-drill holes in brick and masonry and install anchors.
Step 1: Choose a Location
Decide where the tapestry looks best, remembering that it's usually best if it's at least a foot from the ceiling. If possible, when installing on drywall, ensure the wood that holds the tapestry overlaps at least two studs. If not, you'll have to install at least one wall anchor.
Step 2: Position the Wood
Set the wood against the wall at the proper position and use a spirit level to level it. Mark the positions of the studs on the wood or – if you're using anchors – mark the locations of the screws. Take the wood down and drill a 1/8-inch hole on each mark; then reposition the wood on the wall and mark the locations of these holes, using a sharp pencil.
Step 3: Install Wall Anchors
Drill a hole for a wall anchor, using an appropriately sized bit, on each mark that doesn't overlap a stud. If you're installing on masonry, drill a hole on each mark, using a masonry bit. Tap a conical plastic wall anchor into each hole.
Step 4: Mount the Tapestry
Ask a helper to hold the tapestry in place. Place the wood so it covers the top of the tapestry; then drive screws to secure the wood to the wall and hold the tapestry. Be careful not to allow any of the screws to penetrate the tapestry material.
To make sure the screws are discreet, use 2-inch trim screws, which have a head not much larger than that of a finish nail. These screws have narrow shanks, so be sure to size anchors appropriately.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.