Hanging A Picture

Hanging a picture or two can really transform your living space and turn your house into a home. But getting started can be daunting.  Which walls?  Which pictures?  Where to hang them?  High or low or in the middle?  

And the biggest challenge of all - where to put the hook in the wall?

These tips and techniques will take the stress out of hanging a picture and help you to create displays you can be proud of.

Hanging a picture

Keeping it simple

The simplest way to hang a picture is to use the eye-level guide. Place the picture on the wall so that its centre is at eye-level for a person of average height.

A frequent mistake we all make is to hang pictures too high so that we have to look up to see them properly. By using the eye-level guide, the picture can be viewed comfortably by everyone. Dining areas are a little different as most artwork is viewed from the sitting position so bear this in mind when you are hanging a picture in this area of your home.

 

If you need to hang an expensive piece of original art or a heavier picture that requires good support, for best results you need to get a little bit more technical. The method below will yield perfect results.

The Technical Approach

This method of hanging a picture might take a little bit more time but it's worth it especially if you're displaying a substantial piece of original artwork in a key area of your home.

Step 1: To determine where the centre of the picture will be when it is hanging on the wall, measure 58-62 inches from floor up the wall and mark the spot with a pencil.  This is average eye-level  (in some houses it will be 58”, in others 60” etc depending on the average height of the occupants).

Step 2: Measure the height of your picture, including the frame, and divide that number by 2.  (If your picture measures 30 inches, then the result will be 15 inches.)

Step 3: Make sure the picture wire is pulled tight and is rigid and measure the distance between it and the top of the frame. You then deduct this figure from the result you got in step 2.  (If the distance between the wire and top of frame is 4 inches, the calculation looks like this:  15”-4”=11”)

Step 4: You take that result (11 inches) and add it to the center point measurement (say, 60 inches) from Step 1.  The calculation is 11” + 60”  which equals 71”.  So you want to measure 71” from the floor up the wall to get the point where you hang the hook.

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Note on Picture Hanging Hardware:

It’s important to always use picture hanging hooks that are strong enough to bear the weight of the item you’re hanging.  You’ll find a range of standard picture hangers or hooks  designed to take weights of 5, 10, 20,  50 and 100 pounds of weight.

For larger pictures, use two hooks spaced apart to ensure the weight is evenly distributed.  If it’s a very heavy item, use screws fitted into wall plugs for added safety.

Hanging mini picture frames and other lightweight  and medium-weight items is a simpler process and can be done with a pin type hook which you can hammer directly into the wall. 

A device, called Takker (www.takker.com), makes the process extremely easy and can take a weight of up to 20 pounds. It's great for hanging pictures on drywall, plaster, plasterboard, wood, fencing, trellising and aerated concrete block.

If you’re looking for  picture hanging kits, including picture hanging strips and picture hanging wire or any other picture hanging hardware you’ll find a great range on Amazon. See our Links section on the right.

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Creating the look you want - tips on displaying your pictures

Which walls?

Hanging-a-picture-1

When hanging a picture, choose a wall where it will have maximum impact – over a fireplace, behind a couch, opposite your bed. 

Start with these key positions and work from there. Bear in mind that a very large picture will overwhelm the space in a small room and its impact will be reduced. A big room, on the other hand, will need one large picture or several grouped together to create impact.

Never hang a small picture on its own on a large wall – it will stand out for all the wrong reasons.

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How Many?

Depends on your taste. Do you like the cluttered look or are you more of a minimalist? Check out interiors magazines for ideas.  Seeing  how other people do it will help you make your choices.

Light and Heat

Give some consideration to the light and heat sources in the room when hanging a picture. Avoid hanging original paintings, old family photos or textile wall hangings in direct sunlight or directly over a heat source, such as a radiator as they are prone to damage in these conditions.

Choosing a layout

Once you’ve decided which walls you want to use and have your pictures at the ready, you then need to decide how you want to display them.

  • one per wall
  • in a line horizontally or vertically
  • a selection grouped together. 

It’s a good idea to use a paper template first and see how your ideas look before you start hammering nails into your walls.

Layouts for large walls

A large, original canvas needs space of its own and is perfect on its own for the biggest wall in a room.

Alternatively, hang smaller pictures in a group.  The number you use depends on your personal taste.  You could, for instance, hang one large picture in the center, with three smaller ones on either side.

Prints and posters usually look best when they’re hung in twos or threes.

A large group of pictures of different sizes can be very effective on a big wall. Lay your pictures on the floor first and experiment with placing them.  Start from the centre and place ‘heavy’ (pictures with darker colours, themes or frames) at the bottom and work to ‘lighter’ at the top. An odd number of pictures is more appealing to the eye.

Hanging-a-picture-group

A Wall behind a piece of furniture

When hanging a picture behind a couch, bed or table choose one that is narrower than the length of the furniture.  For example,  if your couch measures 6ft then your picture or pictures need to occupy a space centred above it with a minimum of 6-8 inches either side.

hanging-picture-above-bed

The distance between the top of the furniture and the frame edge should be roughly 8-10 inches but use your judgement as it will depend on the height of the furniture.  Aim for balance and use a template to help you get it right.

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Narrow walls

With a narrow wall, one picture on its own can look lonely.  You can get a better result if you display two or three pictures in a vertical line. This can work well on those strips of wall you get either side of a dooryway.  Again, check for balance and use pictures that allow for a space of at least 2-3” either side and at least 2” between each other vertically.

narrow layout

Stairways

Hanging pictures in a diagonal display works best for stairways. The increasing height of the walls as you mount a staircase lends itself well to the display of a collection of pictures.

Stair layout

This can be a great place to hang family photographs.You can vary the size of photo used but you need to be consistent in your choice of frame and width of matte. This will give the collection a sense of unity and balance.

Displaying Pictures on a Ledge

If you’re not keen on hammering nails into your walls, you can opt instead to display pictures by stacking them, one behind the other, on a ledge or shelf.  This can be an effective way of displaying a mixture of prints and photographs.

We hope this picture hanging guide has helped to take some of the mystery out of the process and helped you get the gist of hanging picture frames successfully.

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