Picture this. You just moved into a brand-new apartment. You walk in, moving boxes in hand, and take a deep breath as you take it all in. Just as you start to dream and Pinterest your way toward a fully decorated home, your landlord stops by. He hands you an extra set of keys and says, “If I haven’t told you already, please avoid putting holes in the walls.” Just like that, your vision board dissipates and you’re back to the start of your decorating dreams.
Or are you?
Since the early 1990s, 3M Command Strips have been a life saver (okay, maybe just a design saver). Not only did 3M present an opportunity for customers to hang their items without putting a hole in the wall, they did so while making the adhesive removable. Talk about a win for renters or for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with spackling, sanding and repainting wall holes.
Since Command strips have entered the commerce market, dozens of other fasteners have evolved as well. Whether you’ve had a bad experience with Command strips or are simply looking for other plausible options, you’ve come to the right place.
In short, the most popular alternatives to Command strips include VELCRO strips, adhesive hooks, Ook Hardwall Hangers, adhesive putty, magnetic strips, and ladder shelving.
Although 3M does make a Velcro-like product, we’re talking about the actual VELCRO brand in this example.
VELCRO manufactures a wide range of Velcro strips designed to be used in place of Command strips. You can purchase rolls of the strip or individual pieces for uses such as hanging a picture frame or tools in your garage. Velcro even has a product out called “HANGables”, used for exactly what it sounds like.
If you’re curious about how strong Velcro strips actually are, here is an overview of how their weight limits vary.
|Type of Strip||Weight Limit|
|Lightweight||1lb – 5lbs per square inch|
|Heavy Duty||1lb – 10lbs per square inch|
|ALFA-LOK||Heavy duty, extreme conditions|
Need to fasten something outdoors this season and don’t want to drill into your beautiful brick walls? The VELCRO ALFA-LOK strip looks like a good contender.
Command strips are categorized as strips because they don’t have a visible hook or external fastening mechanism.
Adhesive hooks provide a new way to hang and organize your products because of the increased stability and security they offer. Surprisingly, 3M is not the only leading manufacturer of these products. Here are a few of the most popular adhesive hooks in the market today:
Most of these brands can be purchased in-store at places such as Lowes or Walmart, and online at Amazon or Ebay.
First things first: this hanger does involve making a few holes in your wall. If you’re trying to avoid using an adhesive like Command strips, but are also hesitant to drill massive holes or anchors into your walls, consider trying Ook Hardwall Hangers.
These types of hooks differ from using traditional nails because they not only look more high-end, they also offer more support and structure for the item you’re hanging. These hooks became known for their use in garages and sheds, where they can hold items such as a leaf blower or a golf bag of up to 50 lbs. These hangers attach directly to the drywall with three small pins.
Do you remember plastering your walls with band posters and celebrity headshots as a teenager? The worst part was knowing that once you hung the posters up with clear Scotch tape, taking them down would mean ripping the corners of your precious artwork. Not to mention, Scotch tape was never a good look.
Adhesive putty is a good alternative to adhesive strips because it does very little to no damage to your walls and is kinder to the items you’re hanging. It also leaves very little, if any, residue on your walls. The best part about using putty is that you’ll never see it, as it stays hidden behind the artwork.
Keep in mind that the weight limit for putty is very low, usually up to 1lb. However, posters, photos, award ribbons, small white boards and lightweight tapestries, for example, are a great fit for adhesive putty. Here are some of the leading manufacturers of adhesive putty:
Loctite Mounting Putty: Besides receiving great reviews from buyers, Loctite Mounting Putty is appealing to buyers because of their promise to be non-toxic.
Duck Poster Putty: Duck is one of the manufacturers who promotes their products to be reusable. Unlike adhesives and tape who usually have a one-time use limit, this feature helps buyers truly get their money’s worth.
Gorilla Mounting Putty: This putty stands out from other competitors because it holds up to 2lbs of weight.
Quakehold Museum Putty: This one is a must-have. From their name alone, you get the feeling that this form of fastener is going to last (perhaps even through an earthquake). This putty is unique because it adheres to various materials including wood.
The two types of magnetic strips we’re covering today are heavy-duty, multi-purpose strips and lightweight tape used for smaller projects.
If you’re looking for a clean way to organize items on your wall, consider purchasing one of these heavy-duty strips. Many times, homeowners and renters use Command strips to hang one item at a time. Using a strip like this allows you to hang multiple items in one location.
Need some ideas of what to hang on a magnetic strip like this? Think about organizing your kitchen utensils, knives, paint brushes, small tools such as drill bits, magnetic toys, and more.
This type of product usually comes in a roll or a small package of tape-like strips. One side of the strip is adhesive, and the other side is magnetized. This is a great tool to use when hanging lightweight objects like photos, posters, and other small artwork.
Need a dry erase board for your fridge? Glue a few magnetic strips to the back of a small white board and to a plastic cup. Hang them directly on your fridge for a make-shift kitchen white board and holding cup for markers.
Before you resort to a hanging mechanism like nails, Command strips, other adhesive strips, or putty, ask yourself if the items you’re trying to organize need to actually be hung. Utilizing a ladder shelf is an incredibly trendy way to display photos, plants, artwork and other decor, without touching the walls at all.
Ladder shelving offers almost a 3D way to decorate a space and help your room come to life. Not only does it fill a little more space, it also offers versatility in design since you can use it to hold more items than would normally hang on a wall.
Do you love to decorate for holidays, but hate all of the time that goes into it? Many designers use ladder shelving to house seasonal decorations. When the seasons change, you simply pack away the old decor and replace it with something fresh. This can be a little more simple (and a little more fun) than manually swapping out photos in hanging picture frames every year.
Experiment and have fun with this low-maintenance decor idea!
Whether you default to using traditional Command strips or an alternative option mentioned in this article, don’t throw away the instructions before reading. Although the how-to seems self-explanatory, there are often helpful pointers in the instructions that will help your product last longer.
Most hooks and adhesive packaging will specify what the maximum weight limit is. Keep in mind that these are the maximum weight limits. If you need a heavier-duty product, invest a little more money to purchase what you need, rather than risk your item falling and becoming damaged.
Dust and grime is inevitable on walls. Some of your walls may even be texturized. Before you adhere your product, clean the area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. If your wall has texture, consider smoothing out the area of the wall where your strip or putty will go. A clean, smooth area will result in better adhesion.
When you’re excited about decorating or organizing items in your home, it’s tempting to rush through the process. Most of the time, this doesn’t end well. When using tools like the ones mentioned in this article, take your time.
If you’re using an adhesive strip, press firmly and for an extended period of time. If you’re using putty and the instructions say to allow it to sit for 30 minutes before use, don’t disregard that step. The alternatives mentioned here are meant to be substitutes for long-lasting options like Command strips and traditional nails. With that being said, we have to be willing to put in the time to make this long-lasting as well.
Rather than sticking your adhesive strip or putty to the wall and then immediately hanging your item, allow some time to pass for the glue to truly stick well. This may not be as important when hanging something extremely lightweight like a poster, but for heavier items such as a leaf blower, this is recommended.
To avoid being woken up by a crash in the middle of the night, check on your hanging item every so often. This is a good thing to do even with nails or screws. Taking 30 seconds to check the stability of your product could save you a headache (and a midnight scare) down the road.