Going the extra mile...

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
Dec 8, 2003
This print I framed goes into this old Victorian home with plaster (not drywall) walls. The lady had concerns about the weight. Refused to get plexi. Well, as I expected this 30 X 30 is quite heavy and a courtesy hanger wont do. I was thinking about going to the hardware store and getting something she could use. Ideas on what? She acted like finding a stud near impossible. I didn't ask why.
This is my opinion on such matters.....sad as it may be:

In such situations, I refer the customer to his/her LOCAL hardware store - preferably the little one on the next corner. Those hardware stores are very familiar with what the nearby homes are made of and what hardware is best to use. This removes ME from any liability.

Oh how I wish we lived in the years of Andy Griffith, but I'm 'fraid we don't.

Now if this is a customer you've bonded with for years..then go for it.
Floreat hangers make a 3 nail hanger that will hold 75lbs in plaster walls I would set up the frame with 2, d-rings and use these style hangers please note that these hangers are wide so set your d-rings as to not be visible. there are also many type anchors that can be set into plaster but will entail a much larger hole in the plaster walls
Looks like I'll beat Ron to this one.

Jay, Are you familiar with WallBuddies? If not, search the archives as they have been talked about quite a bit. They are attached to the back of the frame and used instead of wire, ideal for heavier frames such as what you've mentioned. Also, when using these, finding studs in the wall is not really necessary.

WallBuddies are available through United Manufacturers.

Good luck,

I agree that WallBuddies are the best all-around hanging system available for general purposes.

The special wall hooks that come with WallBuddies are heavy duty and quite suitable for drywall in good condition. However, they share a weakness common to all hangers that are secured by nails -- they aren't as secure as screw anchors. They can pull out -- especially if there's a previously-repaired hole or a weak spot in the drywall (and there usually are some)

Plaster & lath (sp?) walls have special needs, which may not be satisfied by any conventional hanger. For one thing, they're not all alike. It might be best to use a wing-type anchor, which might span enough area in the wall to hold securely.

If possible, I'd leave the responsibility for hanging this one to someone else.

Ha! I'm delighted to get that in before Ron did.

When I lived in a house with plaster walls my standard picture-hanging procedure was to drill a hole in the wall using a masonry bit, insert a small plastic screw anchor, screw in a screw and hang the piece from that.

I did this even with 8x10 frames. Trying to pound a nail into the plaster ALWAYS resulted in a dinner plate sized hole.

It's easy to remove the screw anchor and fill the hole with spackle should the need arise.


Edit: Note to self - type faster
Yea I've seen wallbuddies. I wouldn't make them my default hanger, but should have a few laying around for this very application.

I have the 3-nail hangers too. I wonder if I can get them here anywhere?
Originally posted by Jay H:

I have the 3-nail hangers too. I wonder if I can get them here anywhere?
United Manufacturers.


Put down the bottle of Kentucky Sourmash a minute, :D and listen!!

WallBuddies is THE default hanging system in my shop and should be in most shops for normal installations. They are cheap, easy to install, you get all the parts you need with them, even a little sticker with step by step directions on how to measure and hang. I have converted so many of my customers to them that I charge extra for hanging wire now!! :cool:

Seriously, they are something to consider as they are a very positive method of hanging framing with no chance of it ever vibrating off center with slamming doors or wall shake/vibration. Once they are level, that's it. They work great in modern drywall and, in the older plaster and lath walls, I use either floreats with hardened nails that are provided with them or anchors or sometimes Molly bolts.

Good luck.


P.S. I was just joshin' 'bout the sourmash!
Easy on the bourbon. You can talk about he kids an my dog but don't be joshin' bout the bourbon.

Wallbuddies! I know I know. I love these things. Its something I just need to do and get over it. My reservation is this; I have hard time convincing ppl to use conservation clear on a L.E. print. Select is the lowest quality mat I carry and I think many ppl could care less about that either. One side of the coin tells me to make C.C. my standard glass, Rags standard mats, wallbuddies standard hangers, etc. Then just make my prices what they will be and relish the fact that I'm the only guy that’s doing it right (here at least). The problem is that I am the only one that is impressed with this.

I am about to make CC my standard glass. Not a transition I'm excited about but one that I want to take for my own sake. Maybe I'll just throw in wallbuddies at the same time and get over it.
Originally posted by Jay H:
Wallbuddies!...My reservation is this; I have hard time convincing ppl...One side of the coin tells me to make...wallbuddies standard hangers, etc. Then just make my prices what they will be...
Let me make your decision to favor WallBuddies a bit easier, Jay: Unlike most other premium framing products, their installed cost is less than a wire.

Yes, the WallBuddies themselves cost considerably more than 2 screweyes and a wire. But for nearly any hanging system, installation labor costs several times as much as the parts. In my shop, WallBuddies take about 1-1/2 minutes to install, vs. 2-1/2 minutes for a wire. That one minute difference in labor makes WallBuddies the lower-cost hanging system, installed. Try your own time study, and apply your shop labor rate to the time difference. For most of us, WallBuddies come out on top.

Even if you choose to charge more for WallBuddies, customers will probably opay for them, because they are truly a better way to hang frames.

Here's a WallBuddies convenience:

Using longnose pliers, bend out the center sawtooth-point on the left and right WallBuddies, so that when the frame is pushed against the wall, the points make little marks. That's where the hooks go, eliminating any need for measuring. Customers love that.
OK OK.... my very next order from United has them on there. I will give it a run. (note to self: its all jim millers fault!)
"Looks like I'll beat Ron to this one."

"Ha! I'm delighted to get that in before Ron did."

While you two (and others) were jumping all over poor Jay about Wallbuddies, I was sitting in a waiting room in Green Bay - 30 miles from my computer.

I really need to get a longer phone cord.

Jay, WallBuddies are just another way - a really GOOD way - to separate yourself from the competition. Customers who get them will feel special and they'll thank you for it.
Jay, I'm worried about you. A better way to phrase that would be I'm worried for you.

You are concerned about oval frames; you are reluctant to introduce WallBuddies to your customers. You have a hard time convincing people to put conservation glass on a limited edition print.


Picture framing isn't a craft anymore - it's a profession. Approach it in a professional manner.

When you broach the subject of conservation glass do you do so in an apologetic manner because it's more expensive? Do you point out that the slightly greater cost is more than compensated for by the increased longevity of the piece? Or do you just assume that customers want you to take the best possible care of their artwork?

If you can say yes to that last question, then you can forge ahead with your plan:

"One side of the coin tells me to make C.C. my standard glass, Rags standard mats, wallbuddies standard hangers, etc. Then just make my prices what they will be and relish the fact that I'm the only guy that’s doing it right (here at least)."

Of course no one is going to be impressed with this until you explain to them WHY they should be impressed. Well informed customers are great for business.

You know they are going to want to show off their newly acquired knowledge about the benefits of rag mats to all their friends.

I don't believe you would be participating in The Grumble if you weren't concerned about giving your customers the best service you can provide. You've convinced me - now convince your customers.

Do you really think they'll balk about adding $50 to the total cost of an order if it means they are getting absolutely THE BEST value for their money?

That's more preaching than I've ever done. I hope you will see it as just some thoughts on the subject, in no way intended to be critical.

But if you want to take offense, blame Framerguy. It's his influence that has me spouting off and voicing opinions.

Originally posted by Ron Eggers:

I really need to get a longer phone cord.
Then when THAT happens, it will eliminate ANY possible chance we mere mortals would have in slipping one in before you. ESPECIALLY when the topic concerns WallBuddies. :D

And thanks for taking the wind out of my sails. I was really proud of myself for beating you to the punch Ron, only to find out that you were at a disadvantage. :rolleyes:

"Jay, I'm worried about you."

I’m glad somebody is.

"You've convinced me - now convince your customers."

I’m finding this VERY difficult. I know I'm not alone.

Customer: "Hi how much will it cost to get this framed? Now I don't want anything expensive. I think just a nice little oak frame will do fine. Do you think we really need to mat this?"

This represents about 40% of my customers. I really really don't think they care about wallbuddies. I want them to, and I do. They don’t. I am still trying to get a feel for what direction I want my shop to go. I’m afraid that I am making a common mistake by trying to be all things to all people. Part of me would like to go above and beyond anybody’s expectations with the quality of my framing and materials. Doing things the way I want to makes it very hard to then appeal to the customer above (remember that 40%).

"Jay, WallBuddies are just another way - a really GOOD way - to separate yourself from the competition. Customers who get them will feel special and they'll thank you for it."

I agree. It opens the door for me to better explain how I do things just a little bit different!

Good stuff. Thanks friends.
I don't charge extra for WallBuddies. I don't need to. And, normally, I don't offer them as an "option." If they are appropriate to the project (which means the frame is bigger than, say, 14x18) they appear by default on my work order and I put 'em on.

Then, when the customer picks up the order, I make a big deal out of showing how easy it is to hang and level the art. A sample on the wall, which you can make yourself or get directly from Picture Perfect/WallBuddies, makes this very easy.
"I think many ppl could care less about that either. One side of the coin tells me to make C.C. my standard glass, Rags standard mats, wallbuddies standard hangers, etc."

I have always used conservaton or rag mats as my standard mats. The only non conservation mats I have is Tru Vue's Internation White. My competition is of very poor quality around here, and all I have to say " your mats will not turn brown and yellow like the mats some other framers use". Never yet had anyone turn down a job.

I use either Wall Buddies or on small items, I use the plastic coated steel wire with small strap hangers. Makes a nice clean presentation.
Originally posted by Jay H:
Customer: "Hi how much will it cost to get this framed? Now I don't want anything expensive. I think just a nice little oak frame will do fine. Do you think we really need to mat this?"


I feel your pain. 40% of my customers start out with "what's the cheapest you can frame this" or "I have been to other frame shops and I just want paper mat and regular glass". If I only have CC glass and rag mat will I loose a big segment of my customers? I ask myself this question every day. As for the wallbuddies, it is the best hanging system and I thank Ron for opening my eyes, but I charge for them. The first set is free to see if you like them, after that $3.49.
Plaster Walls. I live in a house with them and our shop is in a house with them. Nails, screws, bulldogs, ackermans and just about anything you want to use works. Trying to find a stud, forget it.

Turn the tables on the price issue and ask them "how much do you want to spend?" Cheap to one may be expensive to another. I had a customer say,"will that cost about $40?" She didn't balk a bit when I told her it was a custom frame and would be $136.
Everyone has to work out for themselves an approach with which they are comfortable.

I wish I could say "How cheap do you want it to look?" but I can't. What I can say is "Do you think that's going to make the piece look important enough?"

Customer: How much will it cost to get this framed?

Me: More than you ever dreamed possible (This generally gets a laugh because it's not the answer they were expecting. And they think I'm kidding.)

"Do you think we really need to mat this?" There's your opening to explain how the mat functions in the framing package. Once customers understand what the mat is for then they can make an informed decision about whether or not they want/need one (or two and a fillet).

"Nice oak frame", now there's an oxymoron. [Insert personal prejudice icon here.] Show them the oak frame, then show them something nicer. Explain how your choice complements the art while the oak frame just sits there looking grainy.

You're interested in their artwork, even if it's awful. You want to make it look the best you possibly can.

No one is ever going to walk into your shop and tell you they want a silk mat with a gold leaf frame and matching fillet. Most people don't know these things exist. They won't know it unless you show them.

In the end, if they still want to frame the piece as cheaply as possible, you have to let them. But at least you've given them options.

Early on in my business I made the decision to make rag mats and CC glass my standards... I spent alot of time and energy explaining the benifits to every customer -- I realized that the customer comes to me because they are relying on the fact that I will do the best work possible using the best materials and that my explaining was unecessary beyond the occasional "acid free" and "UV filtering" comment for price balkers.

You can't please everybody all the time but you can certianly forge a reputation for quality and craftmanship that WILL matter to people who care about such things.

Bear in mind though, most customers decide to buy because of 1) a personal rapport with you and 2) the quality of the design... the type of materials you choose to use is usually up to you if you fufill 1 & 2.

I say, "Let med design this as if it were mine" do a smashing design and then when they hyperventilate I show them the 'old oaken' look. Or we talk quality readymades. There are less expensive alternatives, but I have yet to have a customer say "can you make this more lovely and expensive?" They don't know that they dont know, until we show them.
Jerry, don't misunderstand. Of course I charge for WallBuddies. I charge for dust cover paper, bumpers and the little labels I put on the back. I just don't charge EXTRA for them. In other words, it's not going to be cheaper if they tell me they don't want WallBuddies, bumpers or a dust cover. That allows me to decide what's right instead of forcing the customer to decide what's cheap.

Essentially I do the same thing with my mats. Since I don't stock the decorative boards, I charge for a full sheet to special order them, even for a 5x7 mat. In effect, that makes my stock alpha-cellulose boards less expensive on most mats.

I'm about to run out of clear glass, since I haven't ordered any since I made UV my default. When that happens, maybe I'll charge the customer who insist on regular glass for a full case.

Probably not, though.

I am getting seriously concerned about you!! Your last 2 posts on this thread have more conversation in them than I have heard from you in 2 Atlanta trade shows, about 1920 Grumble posts, and an uncounted number of IM meetings that you and Charles and a few others have had in the past couple of years!!

Heck, I remember Charles poking you right in the ol' lam&#233 one evening to see if you were still among the living at one of our Omni executive meetings.

You go girl!! Cap'n English would be proud of you!!

When we made the decisions to offer the materails, hardware, design services, etc. we were, for the most part, doing so without the benefit of the Grumble. They were decisions we came upon individually, or in small dins (the collective noun for picture framers)in dark backrooms before the Grumble brought us knowledge and light.

You have the benefit of not having to go through all that decision making (unless you really want to) since we will be more than happy to tell you what will be best for your business :rolleyes: .

It's Friday, it's after 5 PM, and the wine is cold. Enjoy the weekend.

You might like the wine better at room temp!!!!
The wine in question is a white from the Alsace that pairs beautifully with grilled lobster tails. Comparable to a Auslese, but more of a French style. I like this one cold, though I do like most whites at cellar temp. The only others that I like chilled are sparkling ones and dry Vermouth, but that's just one of the ingredients in "rocket fuel".
Picture framing isn't a craft anymore - it's a profession. Approach it in a professional manner.

Kit, I have to disagree with you on this point. I approach framing as both a craft and a profession. Craftsmanship does not have to be sacrificed to price points, and price points do not have to be sacrificed to craftsmanship. In our shop, we use only acid-free materials and the multi-level conservation option. I have found that over the years, as I gently nudge my clients toward better conservation and more complex framing, they are not only grateful, but bring many of their older pieces for checkups and upgrades.

As for the plaster wall question, here in Brooklyn, many of the buildings (our apartment included) have plaster walls. I always tell any clients with plaster walls to put a piece of scotch tape on the wall where the nail will be driven and burnish it down well, This will prevent the wall from chipping and cracking.

Just my two cents.