Framing Matters

by Chris A. Paschke, CPF GCF



IEA Newsletter - Wax-On, 2012

"French Cleat Hangers"


Commonly referred to as French Cleat Hangers--heavy duty panel hangers, Z Clips, panel clips, wall cleat, hanging cleat, or simply…cleats—are commonly used to install any large object that needs support across its full length for mounting. They provide a simple and secure method for hanging panels, cradled boxes, and other large art on flat wall surfaces and may be made of wood or purchased commercially in metal pairs. One length of the cleat is installed on the wall and another length is flipped upside down and fastened to the art panel or canvas. Because the weight of the object is dispersed along the entire length of the hardware, heavier objects may be mounted efficiently and securely with cleat hangers.


Wood Cleats

The traditional French Cleat is used in carpentry, where interlocking wood wedges are employed to hold an object—often cabinets--in place (diagram 1).  These may be made to fit whatever panel size. Inspect all wood to be sure there are no cracks, splits or other damage that could weaken the cleat. Cut one piece so it fits snugly against the top panel and both sides. The wall-mounted piece should be 1/2" to 1" narrower to make hanging the panel easier. Rip both pieces at 45-degrees then sand 1/16 to 1/8" from the sharp point on both pieces.




diagram 1

Top bar is mounted inside

box with bevel cut bottom.


Mount piece is narrow

enough to fit inside the box

and is mounted to the wall.


diagram 2

Light-duty metal cleats

holes pre-drilled ever 4-6".






Metal Cleats

Contemporary aluminum extruded metal cleats are 1 1/8" wide by 3/64" thick and come light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty, and provide a simple, strong and very reliable installation for any flat object on a wall (photo 1). The medium and heavy-duty versions are capable of supporting very heavy items that no other hanging method can handle. Light-duty cleats support up to 30-35 lbs, medium up to 75-80 lbs and heavy duty support over 80 lbs. Light-duty cleats are available in assorted in lengths with 6" long for pictures up to 20" wide, 12" long for pictures 20" to 30" wide, and 18" long for pictures over 30" wide.







photo 1

Light-duty extruded aluminum

photo 2

Z Bar Hanger







To use cleat hangers a second matching cleat must be attached to the inside edge of the back side of the art panel's top rail. It is very important that cleats be mounted as level as possible. Only slight leveling adjustments can be made after installation.


The Z Hanger--also known as a z bar or zbar--is a simple, two bracket assembly that locks together and can hold up to 400 lbs. One bracket is secured on the wall while the other bracket is secured on the object to be hung (photo 2). Excellent for Hanging Mounted Art on foam center board and Gatorfoam by Gluing one Zbar to Back of the Art Work.


Basic Installation


When working with a grouping that requires exact spacing between the pieces and rows, Z bar allows for a little adjustability. Top row needs to be installed first so the bottoms can be easily locked with ample clearance for the wrench (photo 3).



photo 3

Zbar--2nd row--before boxes are placed.


Installation by Rob Markoff,

mixed media on wood boxes by Cat Tesla,

installation at Methodist Hospital-Arcadia CA








References & Websites



Copyright © Chris A Paschke, 2011




For additional information on framing basics visit or email me at There is a special section in the library for all past IEA Framing Matters articles from Wax-On!


Chris Paschke, CPF GCF

Designs Ink

785 Tucker Road, Suite G-183

Tehachapi, CA 93561