How to Hang a Hook from a Ceiling

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12-08-2019, 09:00
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Updated: July 26, 2019 Inserting a hook into your ceiling is necessary for hanging plant baskets, paper lanterns, plug-in pendant lamps, and other suspended décor. You can even hang items like bicycles from your garage ceiling to save storage space. However, hanging the hook incorrectly can lead to damage to your ceiling and the suspended item. Depending on the weight of the item, you will either need to hang the hook from a ceiling joist or use a toggle bolt to hang it from the drywall.

Installing a Hook in a Joist

  1. Hang items heavier than 10 lb (4.5 kg) from a ceiling joist. A joist is one of the beams that supports a ceiling. It's the securest place to fasten a hook for heavy items so that you don’t risk damaging the ceiling or the item.
    • For items lighter than 5 lb (2.3 kg), you can use an adhesive hook as an easy alternative. Adhesive hooks come in various sizes and are easy to remove without damaging the paint on your ceiling. Note that adhesive hooks only stick to flat ceilings, not textured ceilings.
    • If the item is especially heavy, such as a bike, you will want to balance out its weight using 2 screw hooks.
  2. Purchase a screw hook for small, light items. Hook screws are small fasteners consisting of a pointed, threaded end and a curved hook end. They are available at most hardware stores and will come in different sizes based on the amount of weight they can support.
    • There are various sizes and styles of screw hooks. If your item is small and can just be looped over or through a hook, then use cup hooks or eye hooks.
    • For items 10 lb (4.5 kg) and up, use heavy-duty ceiling hooks that are 2 in (5.1 cm) or bigger.
  3. Buy utility storage hooks to hang larger, heavier items. Utility hooks are bigger than regular screw hooks and strong enough to hold things like bicycles. They screw into a ceiling joist the same way as a screw hook.
    • You can get utility hooks that are specially designed to hold a bicycle, called bike hooks. They have a rubber coating and are shaped to fit the wheels of a bike, so you could hang it from the ceiling of your garage, for example.
  4. Find a ceiling joist where you want to hang your hook using a stud finder. Stand on something so you can reach the ceiling, hold the stud finder against the ceiling, and turn it on. Slide it around until it lights up to indicate that you have found a stud.
    • You can also knock on the ceiling with your knuckles to find a joist if you don’t have a stud finder. The areas between joists will produce a hollow, resonant sound, while the joists will produce a shorter, firmer sound.
    • If you have a crawl space or an attic above where you want to hang the hook with exposed joists, look to see which direction the joists are laid and also how far apart they are spaced.
  5. Use a pencil to mark the desired location of your screw hook in the joist. Make a small dot with the pencil on the ceiling joist where you want to put the hook. Pass the stud finder over it again to double-check that it is indeed on the joist.
    • If you plan on hanging 2 hooks for a larger item, install 1 first, then hold the item up to it and check the spacing that you need for the other hook before you install it.
  6. Use an electric drill to drill a pilot hole into the ceiling joist. Select a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw hook. Drill into the mark you made slightly deeper than the length of the screw hook’s threaded shaft.
    • The pilot hole will allow you to screw the hook into the ceiling by hand without it binding up or breaking.
    • If the hole is too wide, the thread of the screw won't have anything to grab onto. If it is too shallow, you will have a hard time screwing the hook in all the way.
  7. Place the pointed tip of the hook into the hole and screw it all the way in. Gently and firmly twist it clockwise into the hole. You will have to apply firmer pressure the deeper it goes.
    • If you have trouble twisting it through the last few rotations, grasp the hook gently with pliers and use the pliers to gain added torque to twist it the rest of the way in.
    • Stop twisting once the base of the hook is flush with the ceiling. If you twist past this point, you could break the hook.
    • This applies to both regular screw hooks and utility hooks. They both screw into the joist the same way.

Using a Toggle Bolt with a Hook

  1. Use a toggle bolt to hang items less than 10 lb (4.5 kg) in drywall. A toggle bolt with a hook consists of a bolt threaded through the center of two spring-loaded wings that distribute its weight in the drywall. A hook is attached to the end of the bolt instead of a standard bolt head.
    • Toggle bolts are available at most home hardware stores and the packaging will say how much weight they can support.
    • You can also use toggle bolts to hang hooks from other types of ceiling materials, such as wood-paneled, plaster, or popcorn ceilings. The process is the same as for drywall.
  2. Screw the wing clip onto one end of the bolt. Assemble the toggle bolt as directed by the packaging. Make sure the wing clip is oriented so that they fold down towards the bolt when you pinch them.
    • Some toggle bolts come with a built-in hook, in which case you just need to screw the wing clip onto the opposite end of the hook.
  3. Screw the hook hanger onto the other end if the toggle bolt has a separate hook. Some toggle bolts come with a more decorative hook hanger that screws on. Twist it on clockwise to the end of the hook opposite the wing clip.
    • The types of hooks that screw onto a toggle bolt are also known as swag hooks. If you buy a toggle bolt that just has a wing clip and no built-in hook, then you can buy a swag hook that matches the thread size of the toggle bolt separately and screw it on to the end.
  4. Use a stud finder to find a hollow area in the drywall. Stand on something so that you can reach the ceiling and hold a stud finder flat against the ceiling. Turn it on and slide it around until there are no lights, which indicates that there is no ceiling joist there.
    • A toggle bolt cannot be screwed into a wooden joist, so make sure you find a hollow area to install it.
    • If you're hanging a lamp, make sure the area where you install the hook is close to a power outlet that you easily can plug it into.
  5. Mark a spot to drill a hole in the drywall with a pencil. Draw a small circle with the pencil to indicate where you will drill through the ceiling. This is where you will install the toggle bolt.
    • You will be drilling a fairly big hole, so don’t worry too much about the size of the mark. It will disappear after you drill.
  6. Drill a hole through the mark with an electric drill. Select a bit that is barely larger than the diameter of the toggle bolt when the wings are folded down. This will allow the bolt to pass through the hole when the wing clip is in the closed position.
    • The packaging of your toggle bolt will often indicate what size hole you need to drill. If the packaging doesn't indicate the size, measure the diameter of the toggle when the wings are pinched closed with a measuring tape or ruler to determine how big of a hole to drill.
  7. Pinch the wings together and insert them through the hole. Pinch the wings down against the bolt and hold them closed at the very ends between 2 fingers. Slide the top of the wings up through the hole. The wings will open when they reach the hollow space.
    • If the wings won’t fit through the hole, then drill it slightly wider until they do.
    • You’ll feel and hear the clip pop open on the other side when the wings are all the way through.
  8. Tighten the bolt to make sure the wings are secure against the inside. Grab the hook and pull gently down. Turn the bolt clockwise to tighten it until the hook feels tight and is flush against the ceiling.
    • Pulling down on the hook will hold the wings in place while you tighten it from below.
    • The hook will cover up the hole you drilled when it is tightened all the way.

Tips

  • Lay down plastic, a tarp, or a sheet underneath the area where you'll be drilling to keep your floor clean of debris.
  • If you don't have a stud finder, you can knock and listen for hollow or solid sounds in the ceiling to locate joists or hollow spaces.

Warnings

  • Wear safety goggles to avoid ceiling particles getting into your eyes.

Things You'll Need

  • Step ladder
  • Screw hooks (for joists)
  • Toggle bolt with hook (for drywall or other ceilings)
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Electric drill
  • Pliers
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