A few months ago, we inherited this amazing Chinese folding screen from family. The art of folding screens dates back to 8th century B.C.E. These things have been around for 2500 years, probably not this one, but it is definitely from a different era. It is some kind of heavy solid wood with carved in designs and paint, gold leaf and lacquer. The intricate line work comes together across the 6 panels to create tight patterns and gentle contours that reveal a very serene yet striking and energetic nature scene.
It is large enough that it could be used as a room divider, and even a standing piece of artwork, but we really didn’t need to divide any rooms. It’s 8ft wide and 6ft tall. It is so big that we had to divide it up temporarily to make it fit in the living room.
Needless to say, this screen needed better placement to do it justice. The dimensions of the screen made it quite suitable for the tall living room wall seen in the picture above. One problem we thought of was that the T.V. would be in front of it, but our options were fairly limited and we had been discussing getting something onto this wall for awhile. So that was that. Next, we had to figure out how to even get it up on the wall. We can’t (and wouldn’t!) put holes in it, and it’s solid wood so it weighs like 100 pounds.
We first thought of building a glorified picture rail, installed in the same way we mounted the bed to the wall in the guest room. However it wouldn’t really be all that attractive, since you would be able to see it below the screen. We wanted it to look more like it was floating there on its own, like: this and this.
John and I have a bad habit of walking around Home Depot with a project in mind, but no actual plan for it. We like to think that we can think fast on our toes, and wing it when we get there. When in actuality, we usually end up going home empty handed and returning when we really know what we need. However, we totally rocked it this time. Sure we probably walked the entire floor of the store 10 times over, and it may have taken 2 hours to find a solution, but we did it.
To hold the weight, we bought 6 Tornado J-Hooks, one for each panel. Each one can hold up to 40 pounds. We figured that individually the panels weigh between 15-20 pounds, so each hook could more than cover the weight of the panel.
To secure the top and keep the screen panels from falling forward, we bought some simple plastic mirror clips. These conveniently came in a pack of 4. The great thing about these clips is that they are clear and are mostly invisible except for the screw anchoring it to the wall.
For the install, we basically had to measure the wall and the screen, and then draw it all out. This allowed us to visualize where on the wall the screen would go, and to also calculate exactly where each individual panel needed to go.
We found the difference between the width of the wall and screen and divided that in half. That’s how we knew how far in to measure for the edges of the screen. Then we added 8 inches to each side and thats where we placed the first hooks. Each panel is 16 inches, so we divided it in half to get the 8 inches. From there we mounted a hook every 16 inches. It wasn’t exact, but it roughly placed the hook in the center of each panel. We then measured up from the floor to the height we wanted the bottom of the screen to sit. A laser level is amazingly helpful with this operation.
Initially we used the “tornado” screws that come with the hooks, as they swear they will hold 40 pounds in drywall or wood. Well my friends, we have plasterboard, and that is not the same thing as drywall. So we ended up with some “tornado” sized holes in the wall.
Luckily, we messed up the measurement the first time around and the holes didn’t foil our plan. We knew that the screws might not pan out so we had some toggle bolts on call. Can I just say that I love toggle bolts? They really get the job done, and I never fear they will fail me. Toggle bolts involve 2 pieces, the toggle and the bolt. Duh! They basically work by expanding behind the wall, and get more secure with every turn of the screwdriver. Here is a basic visual of how it works.
Then it was time to install the screen! We put each panel in place one at a time and connected the hinges as we went. After every 2 panels, we added the mirror clip between to secure them into place.
This project is still not quite finished. The only lingering item is to hide those bright orange rubber grips on the hooks. The plan is to wrap them with regular masking tape. I think that the neutral color will be very close to the color of the screen and they should just disappear.
In the end whole thing only took about 2 hours, and cost us less than $50. Here is the breakdown:
- Tornado Hooks – $36
- Mirror Clips – $2
- Toggle Bolts – $0 (we already had these)
- Small Securing Screws – $0 (we had them leftover from another project)
- Long Screws for Mirror clips – $0 (we already had these too)
- Masking Tape – $3
- TOTAL – $41
Fortunately for us, we already had the bolts and screws that we needed. You can pick those up inexpensively and this project would still cost nowhere near $100.