You are looking at a freshly painted wall and are excited to hang a new piece of artwork. You think you are ready, but WAIT!! Do you have the correct tools to hang it? Do you know if you are choosing the right size art for your space? Do you know the best height to hang your artwork? Before you take a hammer to your new wall, read on!
First, let’s talk about tools. Before you begin to hang your artwork, you’ll need to gather the following items:
- Masking or Painters tape
- Sticky notes (or you can use the masking tape)
- Measuring tape
- Drill (possibly for drywall anchor if not self-drilling)
Depending on the piece and weight, you may also need:
- Monkey hooks
- Picture wire
Now let’s talk about choosing the correct size artwork for your space and designing the layout. Starting with a large project, such as a stairway family photo gallery, may seem like a good idea. However, if this is your first time hanging something, I suggest you start a bit smaller. For example, you may not want to start with a 42×36, 50lb sculpture as that will become the focal point when you walk in your front door. Attempting to hang a 40” square mirror above your bed may be too much to take on as your first project. If things go wrong… you could be looking at 7 years of bad luck. I suggest that you give yourself time to learn by starting with a smaller item, such as the 8×10 framed photo from your honeymoon. You could also choose to hang a cute wooden word sign that is very lightweight and doesn’t require the use of an anchor.
There are a few methods that work; try them and see what works best for you.
One method is to apply painter’s tape to the wall according to the dimensions of your artwork. However, I find this method makes it harder to rearrange the items if you are not happy with the layout.
Another method you can use is to create paper templates that are the same size as the frames you will be hanging. Trace each of your frames onto white or brown paper and cut them out. Then, tape the paper templates to the wall in various patterns until you get the desired layout.
Personally, I like to gather the items I’ll be hanging and lay them out on the floor under the wall where I’m going to hang them. Doing so gives me the ability to place them in the exact layout that I want and to work on getting the spacing right. This method gives me a visual, and I can easily rearrange my artwork until I get the desired configuration.
PRO TIP: Darker frames or pictures with darker elements should go on the bottom. If you hang white frames on the bottom and dark frames above them, your space will feel visually heavy, and you won’t be happy with the results. When hanging artwork in a group, the largest and darkest frames should go at the bottom center.
Now that you have decided on a layout, let’s figure out the proper height to hang your artwork. If possible, hang your grouping with the center 57″ off the floor. The 57″ rule is based on the average adult’s eye level. Most Art Galleries follow the 57” rule and hang their artwork at this height. It’s a great rule of thumb to start with, although it may not work for every situation.
Hanging Small Art
Smaller, lighter pictures do not require you to find a stud in the wall. You can instead use something like a plated nail hanger to support the picture.
All of these are sold in picture hanging kits at your local hardware store.
To hang a small picture:
- Hold your picture up to the wall and decide about where you want it to hang. Remember -NOT TOO HIGH! 90% of people hang their art too high. Use the 57” center rule if in doubt.
- Place your picture on the wall at its desired height. Using your pencil, make a mark on the wall along the top edge of the picture frame.
- Turn the picture over and measure from the top of the hanger to the top of the frame.
- Make a notation of that measurement on a sticky note and place the note on the wall.
- Starting at the mark you made on the wall, measure down the length written on the sticky note and mark that point.
- To center the piece on the wall: Take the total measurement of your picture, find the halfway point, and make a mark.
- The hole should go at your center point, which is the measurement you took from the frame’s top to the hanger.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Depending on the type of hanger you are using, the hole may not go where the picture will hang. Look at where the lowest point of the hanger is; that is where your picture will hang from. Adjust the height of the hole accordingly.
Hanging Large Art
You will need to hang large pictures with a drywall anchor to support their weight. If you don’t want to use a drywall anchor, products are available that require fewer tools and will cause less damage to your wall. You can use a Monkey or Gorilla Hook to help support heavy pictures. Monkey Hooks can hold up to 35lbs., while Gorilla Hooks hold up to 50lbs.
Monkey/Gorilla Hook Drywall Anchor and Screw
(view from inside and outside of drywall)
To hang a large picture:
- Get a friend to help. Do not attempt to hang large pictures by yourself.
- I recommend taping the frame size onto the wall or making a paper template to hang. That way you can step back and make sure you are placing your art at the correct height.
- Suggested heights: If you are hanging artwork above a sofa, it should be hung no higher than 6-10” from the top of the cushion. If you are hanging artwork above a console or foyer table, it should usually be hung 6” from the top of the piece.
- Choose your location and measure from the top of the frame to the top of the hook. Transfer that measurement to the wall, then insert your hook or anchor. If you are hanging your art on a hook, remember, it will hang about ¼” below your hole. If you are hanging your art on an anchor, it will hang at the same height that you place it.
- I recommend putting these bumper pads(https://amzn.to/2FIo2i1) on the back corners of your frame to protect your wall and prevent your art from tilting.
Most traditional picture hangers require you to make two level holes in the wall. Using picture wire will help you avoid this step by allowing you to hang your art on a single hook. Make sure that you buy the correct wire for the weight of your piece. Some art clearly states that it should not be hung with wire. Once you have your wire, follow these steps:
- Thread the wire through the first hook as though you are tying a knot. Do this twice.
- Bring the wire back through the hook and wrap it around 7-8 times, going up the wire to secure it.
- Snip off the end with wire cutters and repeat on the other side. Now, treat the center of the wire as your new “hook” and measure from that point.
I hope this post has given you the tools you need to feel confident hanging your artwork. Remember, start small and give yourself time to learn.
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