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Around the house: Hang pictures at eye level

By: Ken Moon Special to The Gazette
June 1, 2013

Dear readers: Perhaps you're doing a little rearranging or decorating. I'd like to share a few tips I've picked up over the years for hanging and framing. (If you have some of your own, I'll pass them along.)

- The biggest mistake most people make is hanging stuff too high. The target should be eye level.

You want the eye of the average viewer to fall about one-third down from the top of the picture or poster. That usually means 56 inches from the floor.

And don't be afraid to hang pictures in a kid's room even lower, using the same rule of thumb.

- Be sure to use hangers that are strong. To get an idea of how much something weighs, step on a scale with and without the object. My rule of thumb is to roughly double the capacity of the hooks.

For a 30-pound item, I'll use two 25-pound, Bull Dog-type hooks. You might also want to try Hercules wire hooks (they look like a bent coat hanger), which can handle a 150-pound capacity while leaving only a pin hole in the wall.

- For all but the tiniest items, use at least two fasteners - whether nails or hooks. It's easier to level the picture in the first place, and it will stay in position much more readily than with a single hanger.

- Remember to pull the wire on the back of the frame taut with your finger before you take a top-down measurement.

- Don't be afraid to hang various types of art together - collages, drawings, paintings, traditional or modern - in an eclectic and interesting display. One of the guidelines once used by interior decorators was that each presentation should contain an odd number of pieces. Why? My best guess is that would avoid too much symmetry and precision, sort of art versus engineering.

- Finally, avoid hanging anything valuable, especially old color photographs, where it receives direct sunlight any time of the year. You can buy ultraviolet-repelling glass, but it's a little expensive.

Dear Ken: My water heater pilot light keeps blowing out. Can this be fixed? - Bob S.

Answer: Anemic pilots tend to be overcome by drafts. Turn off the gas and clean the pilot tube - where the gas comes out - with some fine wire. Also, remove built-up scale in and around the pilot assembly with an emery board.

One other trick is to remove the inner door. When you remove the cover over the burner compartment, you'll see another curved steel access plate. Sometimes, if you remove it and then replace the outer one, the air currents will be directed somewhere else away from the pilot light.

Dear Ken: I read your article last week about removing paint from brick. My fireplace is totally painted, but I can't use a power washer inside. I want the red brick color back. Help! -Thomas M.

Answer: I think you're stuck. Power washing or sand blasting are the only remedies, but they're not practical indoors.

It sounds terribly tedious, but you can paint the mortar lines by hand with a gray color to restore that more normal brick look. Start with a medium-dark base coat, such as tan, gray or even red.

If you'd rather hire someone, folks who faux paint walls might want to tackle this for you.


Ken Moon, a homebuilder-turned-home inspector in the Pikes Peak region, broadcasts "Around the House," on KRDO, AM 1240 and FM 105.5, at 9 a.m. Saturdays. Visit aroundthe to contact Ken.

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