How to Keep Picture Frames Straight

Written by Mark Rogers

A crooked picture frame on the wall is one of life’s greatest annoyances, especially if you’re a bit of a perfectionist. You’ve selected the best picture frame for your art and made sure that you’ve hung the frame in the right spot; you don’t want to be constantly nudging one corner to make sure it’s level. Instead of adjusting and readjusting your picture frames, put a stop to those slants and tilts with a few tips from the pros.

Use the Right Hanging Kit

Start off on the right picture framing foot with the right hanging kit. Sawtooth hanging kits are easy to use, but when used improperly, these hangers often lead to crooked picture frames — or even broken ones, once they’ve failed and fallen on the floor. Only use sawtooth hangers on picture frames that are light and relatively small — less than 12 inches at its longest side — to ensure that the picture frames stay straight and on the wall.

Frame Destination includes free picture frame hanging kits, which include all the correct materials for wood and metal picture frames, with every complete frame order (i.e. you’ve ordered mat board, glazing or backing board for the frame). With our complete kits, you don’t have to figure out which hangers work best with which frames.

Use Two Hooks, Not One

When hanging picture frames, many people will use just one nail or hook to hang the wire on — but this is where the problem starts. Using only one nail or hanging hook makes it far easier for the picture frame to slide around. In order to keep picture frames from moving on the walls, use two nails or hooks to which you attach the hanging wire; if you’re using a sawtooth hanger, opt to use two instead of one to ensure that the frame is straight. Our hanging kits always come with enough hardware and hanging wire to use two nails or hooks to hang your picture frames, though if you prefer sawtooth hangers, they can be purchased separately in both metal and wood versions.

Don’t Leave Too Much Slack

Too much wire gives your picture frame that much more opportunity to move around. The hanging wire should be just the right length for your picture frame and two hooks — too long and it will start to tilt (either to the side or forward), while too short a wire can damage the frame and its contents due to the tension. With the wire, you should create a nearly straight line across the frame but not so tight there is tension on the edges of the frame. Frame Destination will always cut the right length of hanging wire when we send you a complete frame package, though you can always adjust it yourself. For illustrations and exact steps on this process, read our blog post on "How to Position and Attach a Hanging Kit to Your Metal Picture Frame."

Use the Wall Bumpers

Included in every hanging kit are items that are perhaps the most important part of the package when looking to keep picture frames level: wall bumpers. These bumpers, which are small, clear circular rubber buttons with an adhesive back, stick to the back of the frame’s corners to protect the wall from damage. But the bumpers do more than that; they also help keep the frame steady, preventing it from sliding around.

Anything from bumping into the wall to slamming a door can cause a picture frame to slip and start tilting to one side — but it doesn’t have to, provided you’ve taken a few simple steps to ensure your picture frames stay straight.

Further Reading:

Updated January 27, 2021

Share This

5 thoughts on “How to Keep Picture Frames Straight”

  • John LeFevre

    Re. the 2-hook hanging method, should the hooks or nails be tight together, touching each other or a distance apart?

  • Tony

    Great tips, thanks!

  • Thomas Clarence
    Thomas Clarence June 2, 2020 at 9:35 am

    My wife and I are planning on purchasing some artwork from a local artist in the next couple of weeks, and we want to hang it up in our living room. We found it helpful when you explained that using one nail makes it easier for things to slide around on walls. We'll be sure to use more than one nail when we are hanging the artwork up.

  • Zoe Campos

    Thanks for telling me that using two hooks instead of one can help in keeping our picture frame straight. My dad wants to hang a family picture in our living room but we're not sure yet about the framing we'd use. I'll remember your tips and apply them all once we have settled everything about the custom framing and the photo we'll use.

  • Shammy Peterson
    Shammy Peterson June 9, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    I found it helpful when you suggested using two nails or hooks in order to keep picture frames from moving on the walls. My husband and I are planning to order custom picture frames for all our family and solo portraits. Since we want to display these photos in the living room where people can easily notice them, we will be sure to follow all your tips.

Add a Comment: