Intro: Hang a Rug or Other Textile Art
Do you have an heirloom or antique handmade rug in your family? Too beautiful for the floor? This can make a wonderful wall hanging, but requires some finesse in how you get it on the wall. This instructable will show you how to hang your rug in a well-supported, structured way that will be invisible and be sure to set off the character of the piece.
This is an adaptation of a system found here. This adaptation provides more flexibility in positioning and supports the rug independently of the wall using an aluminum bar and z-clip system rather than attaching directly to the wall.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
Tape system and attachment:
- Unbleached 3" wide cotton twill tape in a length as wide as the rug, available in 3 yard lengths as item WW-50027 from Gaylord (only source I was able to find)
- 2" wide paired hook-and-loop fastening tape in same length, also available from Gaylord (item number WW-50028) as well as many other places
- Common thread for sewing machine (not shown)
- Carpet thread and needle (not shown)
- 2" x 1/8" aluminum bar stock in same length as tape (short segment shown in photo for reference, but often comes in 8' lengths)
- Contact cement (if you are particularly concerned about the archival nature of the system, you may want to use epoxy in place of this)
- Epoxy formulated for metal-to-metal bonding (brand in photo worked well)
- #8 1" pan-head sheet metal screws for mounting clips to wall; anchoring system shown in photo may be necessary depending on wall construction
- Z-clips, 2 per anchor point, so typically 4 per rug unless the rug is wide enough to require three or more anchor points instead of two (probably around 5' wide you will want to consider three anchor points), available as item ALUHAC23-2-M MILL FINISH Z CLIP 2" LONG WITH / 2 HOLES from Outwater Plastics as found on this catalog page or possibly here. Note that the hole locations in these clips varies from clip to clip, so when marking to mount to wall make sure you use the same clip to mark the hole locations as you use to actually mount at that point.
- Plastic milk carton to cut the wall shields for the clips from
Step 2: Assemble Your Tools
For tape system:
- Sewing machine (not shown)
- Heavy needle for hand-sewing with carpet thread (not shown)
- Hack saw for cutting aluminum bar stock to length (requires patience, but you will be able to cut through the bar with a hack saw)
- File (or possibly emery cloth or similar) for smoothing edges of bar stock after cutting
- Marker pen for marking cuts and locations of things on bar stock (can also scratch with an awl or screwdriver)
- Clamps for holding clips to bar when you epoxy them
- A round bottle or can for rolling and compressing hook-and-loop tape to bar stock when you apply it using contact cement (not shown)
- Razor blade for trimming tape from end of bar after contact cementing tape to bar (not shown)
- Level for mounting the clips to the wall
- Drill to make holes for mounting screws
- Tape measures. Large and small are both super useful for different parts of the job but you can probably get away with just one
- Drill to make holes in wall for screws or anchors
- Scissors to cut wall shields from milk containers
- Hole punch to make holes in wall shields (not shown)
- Large piece of cardboard (not shown) to use as a square, both to square up the tape to the rug before you sew it down to the rug and to square the bar to the rug as you mesh the hook-and-loop tapes together. These rugs are rarely square, so the more disciplined you are in keeping things aligned as you do the project, the less fiddling you will need to do to get everything to look right once you hang the rug...especially if you are hanging several together.
Step 3: Tape System and Attachment
Preparing the tape
- Cut the 3" wide cotton twill tape to a dimension just short of the width of the top of the rug you are hanging. The tape should come within a 1/4" or 1/2" of the edge of the rug, the closer the better. If your rug is not already bound on the back with edging tape, you should probably do that first.
- Pin the 2" wide loop side of the hook-and-loop tape to the center of the 3" wide cotton twill tape, leaving 1/2" on either side.
- Sew the loop tape to the twill tape, including across the ends, so the loop tape is securely fastened to the twill.
- Lay the rug out face down, and lay the tape system, loop side up, along the top of the rug. How does it look? Probably a little out of square. Get your big piece of cardboard and square up the tape system to what will be the vertical edges of the rug so that when the rug is hanging the tape will be as dead level as possible.
- Get the tape as close to what will be the top of the rug as possible. The close the better. You may end up trimming part of the twill tape back a bit if your rug is out of square by much.
- Pin the tape system to the rug in the right position.
- Using your carpet thread and heavy needle, hand sew the tape through the rug. You can probably do this in a way that the thread on the front of the rug is concealed between the tufts. But in any case, keep in mind that every one of these stitches is the weak link between the hanging system and the rug itself. When on the wall, the rug will be hanging from these stitches and nothing else, so the more of them you have the more evenly the weight of the rug will be distributed across them. This a step to take a lot of care with if your rug is at all fragile!
- When you are done, your rug with the tape system should look like the photos.
Step 4: Bar System: Hook Tape Attachment
- Cut the bar to length. This will likely leave about 1/2" on either end short of the width of the top of the rug. The length should be exactly the same as the length of the loop side of the tape that is now attached to the rug. Cutting through the aluminum bar with a hacksaw will require some patience, but it is possible.
- Cut the hook side of the hook-and-loop fastener tape to a few inches longer than the bar.
- Place the tape hook side down on something disposable and impermeable, and weight each end down with something so it stays flat.
- Put the bar next to the tape.
- Apply contact cement to both the back of the tape and the bar and let it set for whatever time is recommended by the contact cement directions.
- Bond the tape to the bar, letting the extra tape hang over the ends. Use a bottle or round can as a rolling pin to compress the tape to the bar to make sure the contact cement bonds. Contact cement is amazing stuff and it will do a great job, but a little encouragement always helps.
- Flip the bar over and using a razor blade or scalpel trim the ends of the tape off. Note: If I were doing this again, I MIGHT add a step that wraps the tape a few inches around the end of the bar on the other side so there was less chance of the tape delaminating from the bar. I will say that this will make the tape a little more visible from an oblique angle in the finished piece. I haven't had any problem with the tape pulling away from the bar after the contact cement has set, so not necessarily a issue. Up to the reader.
Step 5: Bar System: Clip Attachment
- Mark the locations for the clips on the bar. I recommend that the clips be located at approximately the 1/5th points from the bar ends for a two-point attachment system. You can see what I mean in the photos.
- Gouge the face of the clip and the section of the bar using the end of your file to roughen the surface. This is to improve the epoxy adhesion.
- Mix the epoxy.
- Smear it on the face of the first clip to be adhered to the bar, position it on the bar, and clamp it in place while the epoxy sets. Pay close attention to the positioning of the clip on the bar to make sure it is square and aligned with the bar.
- Do the same with the second clip, and make sure that it is aligned with the first clip. This alignment is helpful in getting the rug hung level and square later.
- When the epoxy has set (around 10 minutes) remove the clamps. The epoxy may take several hours more to cure however, so be gentle with it for that time.
Step 6: Attaching Bar to Rug
You now have a fully fabricated bar system with the hook side of a hook-and-loop tape system ready to apply to the loop side of the system that has been secured to the rug. If you have been careful, the tape on the rug is as square as possible to the to-be vertical edges of the rug. The mating of the bar to the rug gives you another opportunity to square up the vertical edges with the mounting system. Use your large piece of cardboard for this purpose, and mate the bar as close as possible to the top edge of the rug. The whole thing should look like the photos when you are done.
Once the bar and rug are mated, you can check the dimension needed to properly locate the rug in the vertical dimension on the wall. Hold one of the loose clips against the clip on the bar in the position that it will be in when mated on the wall, and measure the dimension from the top of the rug (nominally, if irregular) to the BOTTOM edge of the clip you are going to mount on the wall. I found this almost always to be 5-1/8". If you get something radically different, double check your numbers.
Step 7: Attaching Clips to Wall
Here is where you need to do some careful calculating of dimensions. I recommend working from the centerline of where you want the rug to determine the location of the clips on the wall in the horizontal dimension. You have the spacing of the clips already from the spacing on the bar, and the wall clips should be spaced the same. The last photo shows my calcs for one of the rugs. Triple check all of this as you go.
The vertical position is determined from the dimension you just checked on the rug, 5-1/8" in my case. The bottom of the wall clip should be that dimension below where you want the top of the rug.
I find it helpful to put large Post-It notes on the wall roughly where the clips are going to be located, and pencil in all the measured locations on those. I hold the clips up exactly where I want them and punch through the holes in the clip with a Phillips-head screwdriver to locate the holes I need to drill in the wall behind. I then remove the Post-It notes and put a piece of scotch tape over each of the to-be-drilled hole locations to keep the plaster from spalling away from the hole as I drill. I leave the tape in place after drilling to prevent spalling from the screw.
I fabricated plastic shields from a milk container to protect the wall, as you see in the photos. These protect the wall from scratching from the bar clip as it mates with the clip on the wall. If I ever have to move the rugs or if I get it wrong the first time, I'm left with very minimal damage to repair...just a couple of screw holes. The plastic shields also make it easy to slide the rug back and forth horizontally to adjust the position a bit, within the limits of the clip width.
The last photo shows the bar with the clips absent the rug mated to the wall clips, but you would never actually see this if you follow the steps I am outlining here because the bar is already mated to the rug.
Note again: Each of the clips has a unique position of the screw holes. Use the same clip to mark the screw holes as you mount to that location.
Step 8: Finished Project!
Mate the bar clips to the wall clips and you have an invisible, structured hanging system that will support your rug in a hanging position with minimal or no damage. Keep an eye on the rug over time, and if signs of stress from gravity appear around the mounting system, reinforce the rug appropriately or adjust the mounting.