How to Hang Pictures

Follow these tips for how to hang pictures on a wall, where to hang them and how to group them together.

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October 20, 2021
Pictures arranged in a gallery wall

Eclectic Dining Room With Gallery Wall

The frames' mismatched shapes on this gallery wall look pulled together because they're all black. And the crisp contrast with the white wall backdrop is a strong visual statement all on its own.

Photo by: Suzanne Childress

Suzanne Childress

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You had a great picture framed and you've found the perfect place to display it. But how do you hang pictures for maximum effect and what picture hanging tools do you need to make sure your artwork stays put? Our picturing hanging tips can help.

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Tips and Tools for Hanging Pictures
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Tools + Supplies

  • framed artwork
  • measuring tape
  • kraft paper for making templates
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • sawtooth hangers (for light artwork)
  • hangers with nails (artwork up to about 15 lbs.)
  • drywall anchors or toggle bolts (for anchoring heavy artwork)
  • hammer
  • level
  • masking tape
  • painter's tape

Look for a picture-hanging kit at the hardware or home store, or you can buy this one online. A kit should include everything you need. And keep in mind, the picture's weight will determine what size hook to use. For large or heavy artwork, you may need two large hooks or anchors.

Simple sawtooth picture hangers can hold about 10 pounds of artwork on drywall. Conventional picture hooks nailed into the wall can hold about 15 pounds. To hang heavier art, or if you're nervous about your artwork not staying put, you can use a drywall anchor that screws into the wall, or toggle bolts.

Also consider the many decorative eye screws available for hanging pictures. Screw them to the top of the frame and then dangle the frame from a wire attached to a screw in the wall. Instead of wire, consider using decorative French ribbon to hang the frame from the wall.

Arranging Pictures on a Wall

Consider grouping four small same-size pictures together in a four-square, to give the illusion of a larger picture.

There doesn't always have to be four in a group. Consider using a larger picture in the center. Then place two smaller pictures on either side of the large picture, spaced vertically to about equal the length of the larger frame. Or, in place of the larger picture, use a large mirror.

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Not all frames will always be matching sizes, so approximate and just try to balance the impact of the frames, not match them perfectly.

Always hang pictures at eye level — or about 57 to 58 inches above the floor.

If hanging a picture over a sofa, don't leave a lot of wall space between the sofa and picture. Try for three to six inches. If you go any higher, the viewer's eye will just go to the wall, not the picture.

Don't put one little picture on a large wall. If there's not enough artwork to fill up more space on a large wall, consider putting mirrors or a shadowbox in the grouping. Conversely, don't overload a small wall with a large picture.

Consider resting pictures on shelving hammered directly on to a wall. Or, display them on a plate rack in place of plates.

For photos that will be displayed together, consider having all the photos framed compatibly. The frames can be in various patterns of the same color or material and should all have the same mat color. Mixing wood-framed pictures with metal-framed pictures works best in an eclectic home. For a more formal look, try to keep the same color for all the frames. Arrange the frame variety on the wall to form a gallery-style display.

There are plenty of ways to enhance how pictures are displayed with picture nails and various knobs.

How to Hang Pictures on a Wall (Evenly)

If your display plans include just one centered picture, then use a measuring tape and pencil to mark the center of the wall space at roughly eye level (use that rule of 57 inches from the floor). When positioning a frame vertically on the wall, remember to factor in the distance from the top of the frame to where the hook will fall.

If the space includes a large wall and a lot of floor space, make some decisions by arranging the artwork on the floor first. Measure how far they need to be from one another. Then put them on the wall one at a time.

Another option for arranging pictures on a wall evenly is to make a template of each piece to be hung. Trace around the outside of each frame on kraft paper, cut out the shape and then label it. Draw an arrow on the template to indicate whether the art is vertical or horizontal. Secure the kraft paper templates to the wall with reusable adhesive, which looks a bit like putty or chewing gum. It won't tear pieces from the wall or the paper patterns.

Hanging Mirrors or Large Artwork

For large or heavy mirrors or artwork, you'll need to use several anchors or hooks to support the weight of the framed piece. Here's how to hang large artwork.

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How to Hang Large Wall Art
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  1. Run painter's tape across the back of the artwork, from one side to the other.
  2. Use a pencil to punch small holes in the tape where the anchors on the artwork are located. These are the spots where you'll need mounting screws in the wall.
  3. Peel the tape off the back of the artwork, then transfer the tape to the spot on the wall where you'll hang the artwork. Use your level to make sure the tape is straight.
  4. Using the small holes on the tape that you just punched with a pencil, mark the holes where the anchors will go.
  5. Pre-drill the holes, add your anchors and screws, then hang the artwork.

Tip: After the picture or artwork is hung, you might want to add small pieces of rolled-up masking tape to the back of the two bottom corners of the frame to hold it in place, particularly if the art is hung in a high-traffic area.

More Picture Hanging Advice

Create a Gallery Wall in a Stairwell

Easy steps to create the look of a cohesive, collected salon-style gallery wall.

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Create a colorful entrance with art, framed family photos and cherished objects.

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