How to Hang Heavy Objects on a Wall with a French Cleat

Hang art, objects, mirrors, or any other heavy object on the wall using a french cleat system. Make one yourself using the tutorial below, or shop for a ready made one online.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find the final steps of a project tricky.

Take, for instance, the hanging of our new chalk painted old window.

The actual painting of it was quite simple and easy.  But then we had to figure out how to attach its VERY heavy self to the wall.

Thankfully, a few years ago, my husband discovered this nifty little trick called a “french cleat” hanging system.  We’ve been using it ever since.

What is a french cleat hanging system?

A french cleat hanging system is a method of securing objects to a wall using a 45 degree slope that interlocks to form a secure hanging bracket.

For instance, one half of a board cut at a 45 degree angle is attached securely to the wall, while the other half slides down and over the top to form an interlocking bracket. It makes a very secure hanging system perfect for large and heavy objects.

a heavy old window being hung on a wall using a french cleat

How to cut a french cleat out of wood.

  1. Cut a strip of wood the length of the object.   Then, slices it in the middle at a 45 degree angle with a table saw to form an interlocking seam.
side view of a french cleat

I must confess, I really don’t understand how “cut at a 45” is done.  I didn’t follow my husband to the wood shop to document that process. However, here is a very good detailed tutorial of how to make a french cleat.

In this case, my husband went to the workshop and in a short amount of time walks in the door with it, and we go on our merry way…

3. Predrill the top piece of the french cleat in preparation of attaching it to the object.

pre-drill holes in the top of a french cleat

4. Attach the top piece of the french cleat to the object with screws.

attaching the top of a french cleat to a large old window using a drill as a screwdriver

5. Attach the bottom piece of the french cleat securely to the walls.

the bottom of a french cleat attached to a wall

Tips for hanging the bottom piece of a french cleat.

(The following contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.)

There are two important points to this step.  First, make sure the bottom piece is pointing the right direction.  We did a trial run to make sure everything lined up before we started attaching it to the wall.  And secondly, you must make sure that this piece is screwed into the studs of the wall.  (A stud finder is helpful for this.)  If this piece is not attached securely to the studs, your object is sure and certain to come crashing down!!

6. Once those things are done, slide the object down so the top board hits the bottom board.

a large window being hung on a wall using a french cleat

The 45 degree angle in the board will “lock” into place and be very secure on your wall.

And voila!  It’s now safe and secure on the wall…

and old window hung on a wall using a french cleat hanging system

Do I have to make my own french cleat?

Actually, no! You can purchase ready made french cleats on Amazon. Here’s a 12 inch french cleat for example. If you need a bigger size, just search for the size you need.

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