How to Hang Pictures

Four Methods:Assessment and PreparationPositioning and CenteringHanging the PictureTips for Hanging Multiple Pictures

Pictures on a wall add interest and beauty to a room, and are a basic element of interior design. Read on to learn how to hang framed pictures securely using stud anchors, as well as get some advice on hanging multiple pictures.

Method 1
Assessment and Preparation

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    Consider what you intend to hang. Different items have different requirements and require different approaches to hang properly. The most basic type of wall hanging, the poster, will only require thumbtacks, but other decorations such as large framed portraits and photographs may require more secure fastening methods. Generally speaking, the most reliable way to hang a picture on a wall is from an anchor screw attached to a wall stud, which is what this guide explains how to do. If you are unsure of how you should hang your picture, this method is a good safe bet.
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    Find a stud. A stud is a reinforced part of the wall underneath the plaster and drywall finish that is designed to bear a heavier load than the rest of the wall. Studs are essential for all but the lightest pictures and frames, as hanging heavier objects from plain drywall can cause tears over time. Electronic stud finders are available in any home supply or hardware store. Most are used by pressing them to the wall and running them along it until a stud is found, whereupon the stud finder will beep and/or light up.
    • Read the instructions for your electronic stud finder carefully. Many stud finders have two sets of indicators: one for studs, and one for live electric wiring. Be sure you know which indicator is which before driving your fastener into the wall.
    • If you don't want to purchase an electronic stud finder, you can use your hand to estimate where studs are. Rap the wall with your knuckles and listen carefully until you get a very shallow and dull sound from it. That spot is where a stud is hiding. To double-check that you have found a stud and not something else, knock around for other studs. They are normally spaced between 15 and 24 inches from each other. If you are able to discern a regular pattern, it is likely that you have indeed found a stud.
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    Choose your fastener. Assuming you will be using a stud to hang a picture, you will need a type of round headed screw called a drywall anchor. The humble finish nail, which is 1½ to 2 inches (5.1 cm) long and bears up to a few pounds even without a stud, is fine for lighter pictures, but a drywall anchor is the safest choice. There are a variety of other options for smaller pictures available at any hardware store, including various hooks, load-bearing adhesive tape, and more complicated devices like tremor hangers.
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    Prepare your picture. If your picture does not already have a bracket, suspension wire, or other means of hanging from an anchor, you will need to install one. Solid brackets are a good choice, as they will hold a picture more steadily than wire or string if bumped. Attach your bracket well above the center of the frame on the back side, so that gravity will do most of the work of keeping the picture steady.

Method 2
Positioning and Centering

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    Find the right height. Plan to hang most of your pictures at roughly eye level for a pleasing effect. The center of your picture should usually end up between 57 and 60 inches from the ground. Measure it out with a tape measure and lightly mark the proper height with a pencil.
    • Feel free to adjust the center height of your pictures based on your own height or the height of the room you are decorating. These numbers are only a guideline.
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    Estimate where your picture will hang. Hold your picture up so that its center point is directly over the spot you marked with a pencil and ensure you like how it looks there. If you feel that it should be raised or lowered, do so. Once you have made a final decision, measure from the center of the picture to the top edge of the frame and note the height. Next, measure down from the top of the frame to the hanging bracket or wire on the back of the frame. Subtract this small measurement from the frame height measurement to determine where on the wall you should insert your anchor so that the center of the picture will be at the desired height.
    • If your picture has a wire hanger, pull the wire up towards the top of the frame until it is taut before measuring, since this is where the wire will be once it is hung on the anchor.

Method 3
Hanging the Picture

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    Make a pilot hole. Find the point you noted or marked where the picture will hang from, and make a small hole in it for the stud anchor. If you have a power drill, use a small drill bit and drill in until you feel or hear the bit hit the stud. Otherwise, use a finish nail and a hammer to make the hole.
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    Install the stud anchor. Again, this is easiest with a power drill and a screwdriver tip, but a manual screwdriver can also be used. Set the point of the anchor screw into the hole you made and screw it into the wall. It will thread into the stud, creating a strong hanger for your picture. Once the anchor is set, continue screwing it until it is an appropriate length from which to hang your picture.
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    Hang the picture from the stud anchor. If it slips off easily, unscrew the anchor a bit and try again. If there is a gap between the top of the frame and the wall, screw the anchor in a little more and try again. Once the picture hangs securely and flatly against the wall, no further adjustments to the anchor are needed.
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    Straighten the picture. Set a level on top of the frame and gently adjust the picture until the level reads flat and even. Step back and enjoy the way your new picture hangs on the wall. Be sure to clean up any tools and debris afterward.

Method 4
Tips for Hanging Multiple Pictures

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    Don't stress studs too much. When making a wall montage or gallery of pictures, it is unlikely that all of them will be so large as to require a stud. Plan to hang the largest picture or two on studs; once those positions have been established, the smaller pictures can be built around them.
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    Plan ahead. To ensure evenly spaced pictures, measure the distance between each picture's position in a group with a measuring tape before you actually hang any of them, and adjust as needed. Use square sticky notes to easily mark the corner positions of the pictures you plan to hang without making a mess of pencil smudges on the wall, and adjust these until you have an evenly-spaced layout.
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    Add interest by experimenting with layouts. Three pictures of the same size can hang side by side to create a continuous, running effect; six or seven pictures of varying sizes can hang at different heights to define an overall space. Be adventurous and try a various different arrangements to see what creates the effect you like best. Remember to avoid hanging pictures so high or low that they seem out of place.
    • Work with the pictures you have. Several small pictures won't look good hung sparsely on walls by themselves across three rooms, but might look great on short walls or in concert with each other across a larger swath. Pictures that are wider than they are tall open up options that would never work with portrait-oriented pictures alone. Trust your judgment and experiment until you find the best way to display the pictures you have.
    • Tall furniture, shelving, lighting, and windows should all be taken into account when designing a spread of multiple hanging pictures. Very often, these elements already suggest some sort of definition for the remaining free wall space near them. Work with them rather than around them, and you will be creating a space that is uniquely and distinctively your own.

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Categories: Decorating with Prints and Pictures