Hanging Pictures Without Nails

Written by Mark Rogers

We understand that choosing where to hang your favorite pieces of artwork in your home or office can be difficult, not because you can’t decide where to display them — but because you don’t want to put too many holes in the walls. We’re here to help.

Though each complete picture frame from Frame Destination comes with a complimentary hanging kit and instructions — and we even offer a Picture Hanging Tool to help with the job — you’re not obligated to hang your frames. If you’re living in a rental home or just want to avoid holes in your own walls, you can find creative ways to hang frames without nails.

Option 1: Use Picture Hanging Strips

One of the most popular ways to hang picture frames without nails is to use picture hanging strips. These specialty strips contain a pressure-sensitive adhesive that holds until you’re ready to remove it, leaving no residue or damage. Each strip comes in two parts: one that adheres to the frame and one that adheres to the wall.

To ensure that these strips hold up the frame, it’s important to use the right strips for your frame’s size and weight. The largest picture hanging strip available from the most popular brand, 3M’s Command™ line, can hold up picture frames measuring 24x36 and weighing five pounds; the smallest can hold most 8x10 picture frames that weigh about one pound.

The most important part of using picture hanging strips is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, such as cleaning the wall with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol only and waiting an hour before attaching the frame. Once you’re ready to remove (and perhaps do a little frame rearranging), simply stretch the adhesive downwards until it releases.

Option 2: Hang Pictures From the Ceiling

If you’re living in an older home, look up: you may have a built-in picture frame hanging system. Picture rails, a type of molding usually placed below the crown molding or a foot from the ceiling, were common in 19th- and early 20th-century homes but have since fallen out of favor. However, your home may still feature these unique moldings. To use them, you’ll need additional picture wire and picture rail hooks that fit the molding.

There are a few ways to attach the wire to the picture frame, using one or two picture rail hooks:

hang frames from picture rail

If you’re good with tools, you can also install a picture rail in your home. This breaks the “no nails” rule, but the holes will be high on the wall and covered by the molding, which is less likely to be removed than a picture frame. Some picture rails, also called gallery rails, are more modern and have built-in hooks that make hanging picture frames much easier.

Option 3: Go for the Lean Look

leaning picture frames Photo by Christopher Burns

Picture frames don’t necessarily have to be hung anywhere at all — you can prop them up against the wall for a more casual look. When leaning artwork, make sure that you cluster a few differently-sized picture frames around each other. Too many frames of the same size may unintentionally appear as though you simply never got around to hanging them.

You can use the same style picture frame, such as a series of ready-made metal picture frames, to evoke an elegant yet still relaxed ambience, but you can also alternate wood picture frames and metal frames in different colors and styles for an eclectic feel.

Use any of the surfaces around your home: shelves, bookcases, countertops, fireplace mantels, the tops of door and window frames, and even on the floor for exceptionally large pieces. The best part of leaning artwork is that you can play around with the location of the frames as much as you want, making your décor very versatile.

Regardless of the reason you have for avoiding holes or the use of a hammer and nails, these options would all show off your art beautifully. If you have artwork that is hung traditionally, check out our tips on avoiding those slants and tilts in How to Keep Picture Frames Straight.

Updated January 27, 2021

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