Your Complete Guide to Earthquake-Proof Art Hanging

July 5, 2020

earthquake proof art hanging

In the next 30 years, there’s a 60% chance that a 6.7 magnitude earthquake will hit the greater Los Angeles area.

Thirty years sounds far off, but it’s already happened—an earthquake of a similar magnitude hit Southern California just last summer in 2019.

Earthquakes pose a threat to everything you hold dear in your home, from your loved ones to your art collection. The good news is, earthquake proof art hanging can protect both.

Read on to learn the ins and outs of safely displaying your cherished collection.

How Does Securing Art Protect You During an Earthquake?

Earthquakes pose a risk to everyone in Southern California including those in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Orange County, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. If you live in those earthquake zones and you want to hang anything on the wall, you have to secure it properly.

Most of the injuries from earthquakes aren’t caused by ground movement. Broken glass, loose objects, and building structural damage is how most people get injured.

If you hang your art with secure picture hanging, it’s less likely that the broken glass from a picture frame will add to your risk for injuries. You’ll protect yourself and your loved ones from cutting their skin on broken glass or getting pinned under a falling piece of artwork.

Safe Places to Install Art in Your Home

The first rule of living in Los Angeles or SoCal is to never hang anything heavy over your bed or sofa. That means no heavy mirrors, glass picture frames, shelving, or large pieces of artwork.

If an earthquake hits while you’re sleeping, whatever is on the wall could fall on you. That’s why it’s better to decorate with lightweight wall hangings like tapestries or posters on the wall behind your bed.

Aside from those two places, you can hang other types of artwork anywhere in your home. That said, you still need to use caution. Make sure to use reliable hangers to secure your art to the wall.

How to Securely Hang Art

Once you’ve chosen a location for your art, locate the closest stud. Studs are part of the wall’s framing, so attaching the hanger here will help anchor your art to the wall. This is especially important for larger art pieces.

Next, you’ll need to gather your supplies.

  • Earthquake safe picture hangers
  • A power drill, screwdriver, or hammer
  • Removable museum putty

You can find earthquake safe hangers at any hardware store. A common type features a closed loop which will keep the picture from jumping off the hook during an earthquake. They may come with either a nail or a screw to attach it to the wall.

Then, nail or screw the hanger to the wall. For large pieces, you might want to use two hangers for better weight distribution.

You can also put a small piece of museum putty on the bottom corners of the frame. This will stabilize the art and keep it from sliding or banging against the wall.

Types of Earthquake Proof Picture Hangers

A sawtooth hanger and a nail might be a quick way to hang a photo. But, it’s just not safe for hanging photos in an earthquake zone.

Luckily, you can find many different types at the hardware store. Here are the most common types you’ll find.

Closed Loop Hangers

This is one of the easiest types of hangers to find. It features a bracket that you nail into the wall. A hook and a curved piece of metal meet to create a closed loop.

These hangers come in many different sizes and have different weight capacities. It’s great for hanging art of all sizes from wire.

Hook Hangers

This is a simple U-shape hanger that looks similar to a fishing hook. To install it, all you need to do is push it through the wall and turn it so the hook sticks out.

These hangers are great for small pictures or lightweight wall hangings. Plus, you don’t need to use any tools. This is the closest equivalent to hanging a picture with a nail in a non-earthquake zone.

Anchor Wire Hangers

This hanger is a small square bracket that gets screwed or nailed into the wall. It has a flat hook that holds wire.

If you’re looking for a low profile way to hang a lot of artwork this is a great choice. Your art will look flush with the wall which is great for homes with modern designs.

Cable Systems

This is the most complex and most expensive type of hanger. This system use suspended cables to hang artwork from one or more stationary cables. Imagine a string hanging from a towel bar.

During an earthquake, the artwork will swing back and forth like a pendulum.

With tensioned cable systems there’s a cable above and below the artwork. The artwork’s cables attach perpendicularly to the support cables. This is a common method on cruise ships since it’s so stable.

Hire an Expert to Handle Your Earthquake Proof Art Hanging

Hanging up art can be frustrating, from finding the right hanger to making sure it’s level. But when you live in a place that’s at risk for earthquakes, it’s especially important to do it right.

If you don’t have earthquake proof art hanging, your cherished memories and priceless art pieces could get damaged or cause injuries. That’s why it’s a good idea to call in a professional.

At I Place Art, we have more than 15 years of experience hanging art. We can help you decide the right placement and install your art for you. Contact us today to book an appointment.