Framed paintings and photographs add a splash of color to a room and
give it a unique personal touch, but some homeowners are reluctant
to tackle the job for fear their walls will end up resembling aged
Swiss cheese. With the right hardware and know-how, you can approach
your next picture hanging project with confidence and safety.
Finding the Right Location
The first step is to decide where you would like the picture to
hang. Recruit a helper to hold the picture on the wall while you
evaluate its placement using the following guidelines:
center of the picture should be at eye level, approximately 60”
from the floor.
Leave at least a 3” to 6” gap between the top of a sofa and the
bottom of the picture frame, and 4” to 8” inches from a table
Treat a grouping of pictures as a single unit.
Center the picture or grouping within the available wall space
or over the piece of furniture below it.
Position pictures away from direct light and high humidity.
Deciding on a location for one picture is fairly simple, but
arranging several pieces in a single space can get a bit more
complex. The answer is to make paper templates with arrows on them
to indicate whether the piece will be hung vertically or
horizontally. Tape the templates to the wall, using easy-release
painter’s tape, and rearrange them until the grouping is to your
Once you’ve decided on the perfect spot, use a stud finder to
identify wall studs and mark their location with Post-it Notes or
Marking the Wall
While holding the picture in place, put a strip of painter’s tape on
the wall with the bottom edge even with the top of the frame. Mark
each end of the frame on the tape then remove the picture.
If the picture will have only one wall hanger, find the width of the
frame, divide by two, and measure this distance in from the marks on
the painter’s tape. Split any difference between the two marks for
For added stability on wide frames, use two hangers that are
equidistant from the center point. If the frame has a hanger on each
side, measure in from the outside edge of the frame to the center of
each hanger and transfer these measurements to the tape.
Before hanging check to make sure the hangers are well secured into
the frame. If adding or moving hangers remember
that mirrors or picture cover glass extend back 3/8" or more from
the inside edge of the frame, so do not drill or screw in this area.
Next, turn the picture over and measure from the top of the frame to
the point the picture will hang. For pictures with a hanging wire
and one hanging point, hook the metal end of a tape measure under
the center of the wire. Pull up until the wire is taut, and measure
up to the top of the frame.
For frames with a wire that will have two hanging points, pull up on
the wire at both points simultaneously then measure up to the top of
For pictures with D-rings or saw-tooth hangers, hook the tape over
the top of the frame and measure down to the spot where the wall
hanger will be attached.
Transfer the hanger location on the wall by measuring down from the
bottom edge of the painter’s tape.
Then use a level to make sure it is plumb with the mark on the strip
In order to select the right hardware to hang your picture, you need
approximate weight of the picture.
type of hanging hardware on the frame.
the wall hanger will be attached to a stud.
There are a number of hardware options for hanging pictures, with
the label on the package usually giving the maximum weight each one
is designed to hold. To find the weight of the picture, weigh
yourself on a bathroom scale while holding the picture then subtract
your weight from it.
Traditional metal picture hooks work well for lightweight frames
fitted with wire while screws or nails are a better choice for
sawtooth and D-rings hangers.
If the hanging hardware will attach to a wall stud or solid wood
paneling, just about any hanger suitable for the frame and rated for
the weight of the picture will do. If the picture is heavy and a
stud isn’t present, you’ll need to use a wall anchor on drywall or
plaster walls. Self-tapping threaded anchors are suitable for
attaching all but the heaviest pictures to drywall.
Anchors that spread out behind the wall—such as toggle or molly
bolts—provide the most holding power and help keep plaster from
The latest innovation in picture hanging hardware is a thin curved
spring steel wire sold under brand names such as Heavy Duty Wall
Hanger, Hercules Hook, and Monkey Hook.
To use, simply twist the sharpened point through the drywall and
push the wire into the wall cavity until it locks in place.
Wire hangers will only work where there’s not a stud or other
obstruction in the wall. They are quick to install and remove,
leaving a very small hole that is easy to spackle and paint over.
Keep in mind that the spot marked on the wall and the location you
attach the hanger may differ since the hook often extends down from
the nail or screw that holds it. To make sure you get it right,
position the lowest point of the hook at the mark before attaching
the hardware to the wall.
While you can nail or screw directly into drywall, always drill a
pilot hole first in plaster to prevent cracking. Brick and concrete
walls require drilling a hole with a special masonry bit then either
hammering in a masonry nail or using a plastic anchor and screw.
Hanging your picture
To prevent your picture from marring the wall and keep it hanging
level, apply self-adhesive soft plastic or rubber bumpers to the bottom corners on
the back of the frame before hanging. After suspending the picture
on the hanger, remove the strip of tape, and use a level to check
your work. Before finishing, make sure the piece is securely
attached to the wall.