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You’ve Been Using Command Strips All Wrong

updated Jan 2, 2023
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(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

Command strips are game changers for renters and dorm residents — or really anyone really who doesn’t want to do damage to their walls. We love all the ways they are handy around the house, use them all the time in our studio for photoshoots, and have learned a thing or two about best practices. If you haven’t cracked the Command strip code, and still have issues making them work for you, avoid these six common, but preventable mistakes.

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The Right Way to Use Command Strips

1. Don’t Read the Instructions

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of this. You buy a product that looks simple enough and jump right in before reading about the right way to use it. There’s actually a little bit more to these adhesive strips than you think, but 3M makes it easy for you: look for the right info on the package and follow the illustrated steps on the back in order to make them work.

2. Use on Rough Surfaces

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

For these hanging strips to stick properly, they need to be on a completely smooth surface. While it’s tempting to try them out on a brick wall, and you might get lucky one day, they really aren’t designed to work well on rough textures. So avoid using them on things like popcorn ceilings, concrete, or wood. Similarly, if you plan to use them in a wet location, make sure you get the water-resistant version.

3. Neglect to Prep

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

Most surfaces have some amount of dust or grime on them. In order to create a good bond, adhesive strips need a fresh and clean surface to begin with. The best thing to do is wipe down the spot with some rubbing alcohol. It only takes a second and makes a huge difference.

4. Get Impatient

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

There are two parts to this one, neither of which you should skip in your rush to hang artwork or decor: 1) If you recently painted your wall (within the past week), you need to wait at least seven days before you can hang anything; and 2) When you do use them, make sure you press down for 30 seconds to give them a chance to bond well with the surface.

5. Ignore the Weight Restrictions

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

Each Command product has a different weight and size restriction, so make sure you buy the right type for your project, and don’t overload them with something that’s too heavy or too big. The large strips can handle a 24-inch to 36-inch object that weighs up to 16 pounds. The smaller hanging strips can only handle up to 4 pounds.

6. Pull Out Instead of Down

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

This is probably the number one thing people do wrong when using Command strips. When it comes time to remove them, don’t pull the tab out and away from the wall. You’ll risk damaging the wall. It’s counter-intuitive, but you should pull directly down towards the floor. If for some reason this doesn’t work, or the tab is missing, briefly apply some heat (a hair dryer works well) to loosen the adhesive, then work some dental floss down between the strip and the wall.

(Image credit: Hippo Wong)

Anything else you’ve learned about using Command strips the right way?