Hanging a hook in the ceiling is often required for pendant lights, but also for many other items, such as planters, mosquito nets, or mobiles, for example. But if you don’t install the hook properly, you could end up damaging both the ceiling and whatever item eventually comes crashing down on the floor! This is how to install a hook into a ceiling correctly.
Install a hook into a ceiling correctly: the steps
Evaluate the weight of the suspended item.
Estimating the weight of the item you want to hang from the ceiling determines what attachment size you need. Hanging a paper lantern, for example, requires a different hook and installation method than hanging a big and heavy hanging planter or chandelier. You need to use the right kind of hook and the right method for different weights if you want to install a hook into a ceiling correctly.
If the item you’re using is less than five pounds or 2.5 kg, opt for an adhesive hook. Adhesive hooks are also available in different sizes and are easy to remove without damaging the paint on the ceiling. (Note that adhesive hooks adhere only to flat ceilings, not textured ceilings.)
If the object is particularly heavy, balance the weight with two hooks. Install the two screws of the hooks at an angle, not directly vertically. Installing at an angle will help offset some of the downforce of the weight.
Install a hook into a ceiling correctly: hook screws or rack hooks
Hook screws are small fasteners consisting of a sharp threaded end and a curved hook end. They can be purchased in most DIY stores and are available in different sizes, depending on the weight they can carry.
If your item is small, use cup hooks or even smaller screw eyelets. If you want to hang something heavier, opt for large rack hooks that are strong enough to accommodate things like bicycles.
Locating the right spot on the ceiling for a hook screw or rack hook
Find the nearest ceiling beam to where you want to hang your hook. A beam is one of the supports that carry a ceiling, and it is the safest place to attach a hook. The easiest way to find your ceiling beams is to use a ‘stud finder’ that electronically tells you where the beam is and where there is no beam, just roof cavity.
If you don’t have access to a stud finder, you can also tap the ceiling with your knuckles. The areas between the beams produce a hollow, resonant sound, while the beams produce a shorter, firmer sound.
Ceiling beams usually have a distance of 16 or 24 inches (40.6 or 61.0 cm). Once you have found one bar, you can quickly find the next one by using a tape measure and measuring either 16 or 24 inches (40.6 or 61.0 cm).
If you have a cellar or attic with exposed beams, check in which direction the beams are laid and how far apart they are from each other.
Making the hole
Mark the desired position of your hook screw with a pin as soon as you have found a suitable beam.
Next you will drill a guide hole that allows you to screw the hook screw into the ceiling by hand without it getting jammed or broken.
Select a drill that is approximately the same diameter as the threaded shaft of the hook screw, but smaller than the external thread itself. If you make the guide hole too wide, the thread of the screw has nothing to grip. The guide hole should be slightly deeper than the length of the threaded shaft of the hook screw, to allow it to screw in completely.
Insert the sharp tip of the hook screw into the hole. Then rotate it carefully clockwise. When it gets deeper, you have to apply more solid pressure. If you are having trouble turning it through the last rotations, carefully grasp the hook with pliers and use the pliers to gain extra torque. Stop turning as soon as the base of the hook is flush with the ceiling. If you turn past this point, you could break the hook.
Install a hook into a ceiling correctly: anchor bolt or hook
If you need to hang your ceiling hook in a place where there is no beam, use a switch bolt (also known as an “anchor”) with a hook.
An anchor bolt with a hook consists of a bolt that passes through the middle of two spring-loaded wings. A hook is attached to the end of the bolt instead of a standard bolt head.
Anchor bolts come in two kinds: metal ones and plastic ones. Never use a plastic anchor to hang anything on the ceiling. Plastic anchors are designed for lighter loads on a vertical wall.
Measure the thickness of the ceiling material and the weight of the item you want to hang. Then, consult an anchor hook load-bearing capacity chart to determine which bolt size to use.
Use a stud finder to select a hollow area in the drywall and mark it with a pencil.
An anchor bolt cannot be screwed into a wooden beam. Therefore, make sure that you drill into a hollow area.
If you’re hanging a lamp, make sure your hole is near a power outlet where you can easily plug it in, but you should make sure you know where any power cables run in the ceiling space before you start drilling!
Use an electric drill to drill a hole through the mark. The packaging of your anchor bolt should indicate how big the hole should be — often it will be half an inch (12mm) to allow the closed wings of the anchor toggle to fit through the hole. If the package does not specify the size, measure the base of the toggle when closing to determine how large a hole should be drilled. If you are using a particularly large anchor hook, drill the hole with a paddle or spade drill designed to make larger holes.
Squeeze the wings together as shown below, and plug them through the hole. When they reach the cavity, the wings open. By tightening the screw, the wings are screwed tightly until they are hard against the upper side of the ceiling.