How to Hang Picture Frames: The Common Mistakes

Nothing makes a house a home more than hanging artwork on bare walls. It adds personal style and visual interest, and it reflects the homeowner’s personality. For most, it is fairly difficult to hang picture frames properly. If artwork—especially the popular “gallery walls”—isn’t hung correctly, everything looks awkward, out of place or constantly crooked, causing perfectionists everywhere to cringe every time they pass the wall. Before hammering away at your wall to hang picture frames, here’s a checklist of what NOT to do.

Not Using the Proper Hanging Equipment

Sometimes, a single nail just won’t cut it—especially with heavier pieces. While using a single hook might work for some smaller pieces, most of the time, it’s extremely difficult to get the artwork perfectly straight without using another hook. Using two hooks, one on each side, ensures that the weight of the piece is evenly distributed on each side, keeping it from tilting. There are also picture-hanging kits available at most retailers that include the correct brackets, wall mounts and other hardware needed to hang your piece correctly according to its weight and size. Just any nail won’t necessarily work—and if it does, it is still generally not secure for the long term.

Even though adhesive hooks are not ideal, sometimes renters don’t have a choice in the matter as it is common for most landlords and property managers to disallow renters to put holes in the wall. If you fall under this category, the “two-hook” method still works; however, it’s important to get the right adhesive hook for the weight of your piece. Otherwise, you’ll defeat the purpose of using the hook when your artwork falls off the wall and possibly damages it.

Eyeballing the Height Placement

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to eyeball the placement of artwork. Yes, it may look straight while you’re up close to the wall, but once you step away, it may be crooked or too close to the floor.

Before you begin to hang your artwork, measure 57 inches from the floor—that’s the ideal height for the center of the artwork to be. This height is at eye-level for most people, and it is the most commonly used measurement in art galleries and museums. Using a leveler will also ensure the piece does not tilt one way or another.

The 57-inch rule is not where the hook should be; that must be calculated using the placement of the wire on the back of the frame. Using our inexpensive Picture Hanging Tool is an easy way to mark the spot to put the picture-hanging hook on your display wall.

Inconsistent Arrangement

When hanging multiple pieces or creating a gallery wall, the 57-inch rule is even more important to adhere to; otherwise, the pieces won’t flow together properly. Hanging all of the pieces at eye level will create consistency. When hanging an arrangement of pieces in one location, you can use the “string and pushpin method,” where you measure 57 inches from the floor, marking each spot with a pushpin and running a string between them to ensure everything is lined up.

Lack of Planning for Gallery Walls

When creating a gallery wall, pre-planning where the frames will go saves you the headache and hassle of having to continuously rearrange the pieces on the wall—creating dozens of holes during the process. A commonly used and effective method for pre-planning a gallery wall is to use craft or butcher paper. Lay the paper flat on the floor and arrange your frames in the order that looks appealing to you. Larger pieces placed toward the left can create a sense of harmony.

Trace the frames out on the paper, including the placement of the hooks, and tape the butcher paper to the wall with painter’s tape. Hammer the nails for the hooks through the paper on the wall where indicated. Take the paper down (without damaging the outlines of the frames) and use the butcher paper as your guide. Voila! The artwork is exactly where you intended.

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One thought on “How to Hang Picture Frames: The Common Mistakes”

  • Valter

    i was so inspired by what i saw and read in Shooting Stars and What You Meant to Me. i felt that each art piece and each poem had it's own mninaeg. i draw, paint, and write for fun. reading this book has made me think about creating art for a purpose and that there are other people who are already doing the same thing.

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