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So I'm thinking about fake-upholstering a wall in my bedroom in my apartment to create a focal wall without having to paint. I don't want to drill holes 'cause I'll be moving out of there in like 9 months, so I figure I'll just thumbtack the fabric to the wall, hiding the tacks.

Would hammering in the thumbtacks/pushpins into the wall gently help these thumbtacks stay in the wall better? If not, what will? I know that not moving or re-tacking the thumbtack will help it stay, but any other suggestions would be awesome.

  • How about double sided tape.it might work – Barbara Ward Feb 26 '18 at 21:35
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The thumb tacks will hold best if they go straight in to the wall without wiggling. If they move back and forth as they're going in, they'll create a larger hole from which they could more easily be pulled. If you can push the tacks all the way in without side to side movement without using a hammer, then there's no advantage to using one. If the hammer allows you to push them in more easily, push them in straighter, or if you can't push them in all the way without a hammer, then the hammer would be better.

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    I also worry about transferred force. Hitting something with a hammer includes a lot more energy than pushing with a finger/thumb; and that energy could go into creating micro-fractures in the drywall around the tacks. This might allow the tacks to loosen more easily. – Scivitri Aug 30 '11 at 23:02
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A better option might be to use some small picture-hanging nails with a washer.

enter image description here

The whole it leaves is slightly bigger than a thumbtack, but still easy to patch up, and because it's longer, it will hold better. You should hammer it in so it's going into the wall at a downward angle.

You may need to stack a couple washers, getting bigger in size, in order to have enough area to hold the fabric (really, it depends on the weight- just need to use your best judgement).

The more nails you put in, the less weight each individual one holds, but of course the more holes that will have to be fixed later.

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    Hitting studs with the nails will hold better, so you'll require less nails. It can also have the added side effect of evenly spacing the nails, and providing a more uniform look. – Tester101 Aug 31 '11 at 12:33
  • But I think I have metal studs in my apartment. Ergo, nailing into studs = no go. – Aarthi Aug 31 '11 at 18:55
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Sounds like a good project!

Try coating the part of the thumbtack/nail that will be in the wall with glue. A small amount of glue will fill fissures and allow the shank of the tack/nail to better hold by bonding with the gypsum in the Sheetrock. Since you will be wanting to remove the tack/nail at a future date, select a glue that is not too strong like a super-glue, but one that will still adhere to both the metal shank and the gypsum in the wall. I suggest looking at glues like Elmer's Glue ProBond Advanced; it is designed to attach porous materials like drywall and non-porous materials like metal.

Remember that the friction of the wall against the shank will push excess glue toward the head. A few test applications will give you the right amount of glue that will help hold while not getting onto the back of the thumbtack's head.

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If it requires a hammer to get into the wall, then hammer away. If you can get the tack into the wall with just the force of your finger, then hammering may very well do more damage.

Be sure hammer straight to avoid bending the tack. To do this, take a pretend swing and look at where your hand is when you would hit the tack. If your hand is so far away from the wall that the hammer shaft isn't parallel to the wall, then you'll bend the tack (or nail) when you hit it.

Quick tip: make sure you have something under the tack that won't tear when you pull it so you can easily remove the tack with a tug. Otherwise, you'll have touch-up work to do when you move out after lots of failed attempts to pry out the tack.

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The top of the fabric might be too heavy for thumbtacks to support. You might have to find the studs using a stud-finder, and then use a nail sort of like these tar paper/roofing tacks (which are like oversized pushpins) to affix the top.

Roofing washer tacks

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An addition to the glue suggestion.

Since you will eventually be covering the tack heads with your wall covering, a suggestion is to create a tack strip. Using a very thin strip of plastic, paperboard (like a cereal box), or cardboard; place glue on the back of the thumbtack heads and push them through the strip. This will distribute the weight of the covering across the entire length of the strip, allowing the thumbtacks, or brad nails, to hold more weight and be more effective.

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