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The Command Strip Step You Simply Cannot Skip

Unless, of course, you want your picture frame to fall down.

March  1, 2022
Photo by Rocky Luten

Command Strips are quite possibly one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century. I’m not being hyperbolic here, either. They started off revolutionizing the art-hanging process, and have since expanded into other products like shelving and storage solutions, from picture ledges, jewelry organizers and key holders. I have several of them in my home: for mounting wall art, hanging the dog’s leash on a hook by the door, and organizing hats and bags in the closet.

The key to using them successfully, though, is following the directions exactly.

Whenever I hear of a Command Strip failure, the first question I ask is: “Well, did you clean the wall with rubbing alcohol first?” To that, the reply is almost always: “Oh, I didn’t know I had to.” Listen, I’m the first to admit that I often skip reading the instructions on the back of packages, but in this case, it’s crucial. If you’re not careful, you could end up with shattered glass from a frame, but if you are careful, it’ll stay up as long as you want it to.

Read on for the precise Command Strip method (and it’s truly easy) that’ll keep all your wall decor safely mounted.

First & Foremost:

Wipe. The. Wall. If you don’t wipe the wall with rubbing alcohol first, the chances of your Command Strip actually working are slim to none. Don’t have rubbing alcohol on hand but want to get something on the wall in a pinch? Reach for some vodka. I’ve done this and it works like a charm! I’ve actually also used nail polish remover for this step, and while it’s worked, I wouldn’t recommend it, as it can remove paint from the walls.

Have a Little Patience:

Tempting as it may be to hang your items right away, the second most important step for Command Hooks is to wait an hour before you use the strip. The company says that this time will allow the adhesive to build, and you’ll definitely want to do this. I know firsthand how hard it is not to have the instant gratification of checking off a to-do list, but I promise, it’s worth it to walk away from the project and come back in an hour.

Stand Back & Admire:

The best part about Command Strips is that you can customize any space (rental or not) without putting any nail or screw holes in the walls. I’ve also found that they’re perfect for frames without hooks on the back for nails—plus, the wide range of hooks and organizing products are fantastic for places like closets, doors, and appliances that you can’t drill into.

Last, Remove Carefully:

Another common mistake I’ve made when using Command Strips is being impatient while taking them off the wall. Again, the instructions clearly state that you need to pull slowly down on the tab against the wall (not away from it) to remove them, but I always think I know better. Not following this direction, though, will often leave you with torn up bits of paint and drywall, rendering this rental-friendly method relatively useless, as you’ll have to patch and paint the spot anyway. So heed my warning: pull them off straight down, slow and steady.

If you follow these simple rules, you’ll never have a broken frame or peeled-off paint again.

Do you have any Command Strip tips for us? Tell us below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Nicole
  • Celeste Scollan
    Celeste Scollan
  • Sheila
When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.


Nicole March 6, 2022
As a professional picture framer, I loved your article subtitle, but I cringed when I read your article. For light items like the marbled paper tapestry hanging in your picture, Command Hooks are fine. Anything framed from, probably ok. They use plastic frames and the cheapest acrylic available. They really weigh nothing. IKEA frames, maybe if it’s small.

Anything of value, in a wooden, metal or gilt frame with or without glass, DO NOT USE COMMAND STRIPS! Ceramic wall art, no. Gallery wrapped paintings, no. Your framed grandparents, no. Your mounted Jackalope head, no. Please don’t. Unless you would like to spend the money to reframe the piece and add to my retirement fund.

Command Strips have a place in this world. They’re great for your hand towels. They’re not for framed pieces.
Sheila March 6, 2022
I would be so happy for
your advice. I want to hang some hooks for coats, frames, and shelves to hold things.
I want do it myself. But I don't know what to use. That will work with a little weight. Strong double sided tape? Can you help me? Thanks!!
Nicole March 6, 2022
In regards to hanging picture frames, the best hook is too use is a picture frame hook. If your worried about holes, if use the Brass hangers with slimmer nails you’ll be fine. It may sound funny, but weight your framed piece on the bathroom scale to help choose the right size. If it’s a 10lb hook, it will hold up to 10lb in Sheetrock.

A fun idea is to use anchors in the wall and screw in door knobs. Them add cording to the screw eyes behind the picture frame and use that to hang the picture. Maybe add a tassel. I wouldn’t go above 16”x20”. Mix this up with regularly hung picture frames.

For shelving of any kind, I would suggest anchors in the wall and screwing directly into at least one stud.

For coat hooks, anchors again.

Double sided tape will come down. Totally not suggested.

Hope that helps.
Celeste S. March 1, 2022
the way that i tried to skip this step and then texted you seeing if i could and it was the one thing you told me not to skip. and then both frames fell down :)