Knowing how to make fixing points in a straw bale house is essential for any owner builder. Whether it’s hanging an artwork or installing a wall mounted television, it’s important to learn this simple skill. In this how-to guide, I will go through what to do if you suddenly decide you need a painting on that bare wall, but haven’t put a fixing point in place during the building phase.
1) Measure! Then measure again!
Work out where your painting / artwork / television will go. Use a tape measure and a level for multiple TV fixing points (and a helper, if you’ve got one). If you have multiple points you want to make sure they are all level or you will end up with a wonky TV.
Use a builders pencil to mark your fixing points on the wall. Then double-check your measurements. Then check them again. Stand back and make sure they look right. The last thing you want is a slightly off centre painting that will annoy you whenever you look at it.
2) Cut your peg
You need a piece of pine about 90 x 45mm or 90 x 35mm. If you are just planning on hanging a small painting you can rip the 90 x 45mm down the middle to make a narrower peg. Cut the peg to length – about 350mm long. If you’ve been saving your offcuts from building, you can use these if they’re a similar length (see other ways to save money when building your straw bale house).
Cut one end on an angle so it comes to a point, cutting the wide sides not the narrow ones. This will make it easier when it comes to hammering it into the bale.
3) Mark the holes
Hold the squared off end to the wall, where the fixing point is to be. Using your building pencil, trace around the timber to mark where you need to dig out. Make sure you are holding the timber vertically, not horizontally.
If you have multiple fixing points, for a TV or shelves, mark all the holes before you dig them out. Hold the spirit level across the tops of the holes to make sure it looks right.
4) Scrape back to the straw
Using an old screw driver or chisel that you don’t care about, scratch out the render within the marked areas. Scratching render will trash your tools, so I recommend keeping whatever you use as a sacrificial tool for future render-scraping projects.
Check the hole as you go, to make sure that the peg will fit in the hole. Don’t make it too big, because you need to re-render what you destroy. You want it to JUST fit (but if you go too big its ok, it will just use more render).
You want to scratch out all the render in the holes, right back to the straw. Collect the broken render for later.
5) Put spikes in the peg
Use a nail gun to drive 75mm nails through the peg on an angle, as shown in the picture:
The nails being on this diagonal will prevent the peg from being pulled out of the wall, once under strain.
If you don’t have a nail gun, ask around to see if you can borrow one from friends or family. Trying to do this with a hammer would be exceedingly difficult.
6) Hammer the pegs into the wall
Hammer the peg, nails and all, into the exposed straw. Keep hammering until the peg is flush with the wall. The peg should be hammered in vertically, with the nails sticking out to the side.
Obviously the pointy end goes in first.
As wall mounted TVs require multiple pegs (that all need to be on the same plane), you want to leave the pegs sticking out from the wall a little. This is because straw bale walls tend not to be perfectly flat, and lumps and dips could cause the TV to not hang vertically. Leaving the pegs out a little allows for you to use a level to get them vertically aligned.
8) Attach your fixings
You can now screw into the timber for your wall hangings.
In this example we wanted to put in a screw to hang large paintings and other artworks.
You can now render around the timber, packing it into the hole around the peg.
You can see here I rendered right up to the screw, but if you are hanging a wall mounted TV you might just render up to the timber to leave a clean, flat surface to screw the bracket into. I also used cob to render around the peg, because I had some on hand.
You can use the render you scratched out of the wall to fill the hole back up. See our article on render repair to learn how.
So there you have it. You should now have a safe and sturdy fixing point to support wall hangings. Go forth and decorate your house!
Do you have any further questions about how to make fixing points in a straw bale house? Or are you ready to start your owner builder adventure? Please let us know in the comments below!
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I’m confused. Would you ever leave the timber sticking out of the wall or do you hammer it in flush with the finish?
If you are needing to attach a bracket, like you would with a wall mounted TV, then you would leave the timber sticking out of the wall. If you are just wanting to hang a picture or artwork from a screw, then you would hammer the peg flush with the wall or even inset a little bit. That way when you render up to the screw, the peg doesn’t create a mound.
If you want to display artwork (light to medium weight) of various sizes all throughout the house, wouldn’t it make more sense to simply add wood runners or moulding across the top of the walls where they meet the ceiling? Then you could hang each individual piece from that runner by monofilament, wire or a ribbon and have more flexibility in moving if not in the proper location with no wall to repair!
There are multiple ways to do it, and yes the method you mentioned is another way you could go. However, hanging a big TV cannot be done in the way you described. It’s good to have options!