How to Hang a Picture or Painting

Searching for the perfect work of art to complete an interior space can seem like a project on its own, but once that new painting or photograph has been selected, the real fun begins. Hanging a photo requires a lot more than just picking a spot on the wall, which is why we broke it down into a few easy steps and created a handy infographic. Before getting into the decorative elements, including tips for creating a gallery wall, let’s go over the basics.


What you will need:

  • Picture hanger
  • Hammer or drill
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Tape

Step 1: Choose the method you will be using for hanging your art.

When deciding what type of hardware to use, consider the size and weight of the frame, what type of mechanism the frame has screwed in, and what type of wall it will be hanging on. The most popular hanging mechanisms are sawtooth bars and picture wire. The following steps work best for these two most popular mechanisms, but can be a helpful point of reference for other hanging methods as well.

Step 2: Center the frame in the area you want to hang it.

Ensure the frame is centered by measuring the full width of the wall it will be hanging on, finding the exact center by dividing the width in half, and marking the center point with a removable notation (like a pencil mark). At this point, weight becomes especially important. If the frame is heavy, consider locating a stud so that dry wall doesn’t fall and damage your art.

Step 3: Find the appropriate height.

Now that the center has been found, decide how high you would like the frame to be. Many designers recommend placing the center around eye-level as a general rule of thumb. Additionally, try to keep the bottom of the frame no further than four feet off the ground.

Step 4: Test the positioning with tape.

This step is optional, but if you are renting or hanging a large piece of art, you may not want to drill into the wall too many times. Outlining the position with tape or removable adhesive hangers before committing to the permanency of hammering in the wall can be a worthwhile investment of time.

Step 5: Measure and mark where the nails should be placed.

Measure the space between the top of the frame and the hook or wire so you know exactly where to place the nail. Mark this spot on your wall.

Step 6: Hammer the nail into the wall.

Depending on the weight, the nail needs to be placed in the wall at the spot marked in step five. Be sure to insert the nail on a slight downward angle to prevent the frame from moving.

Step 7: Hang your frame.

Place your frame on the nail, adjusting so it appears level. Use a level to ensure accuracy.

Now that the process has been outlined, you may want to hang several photos! Creating a gallery wall or a row of photos can really add personality to a large wall, hallway or staircase. 

Tips for Creating a Gallery Wall

  • Cut colored paper in the exact size and shape of all the frames that will be included in the grouping.
  • Center the grouping of images at eye-level, which can be slightly above or below 57 inches. To do this, begin estimating how much vertical space all the frames will need with your mock-frame cut outs.
  • Anchor your collection around a central larger piece. This helps to build off of when expanding and creating a design.
  • Try a few layouts before committing to an exact positioning. Be sure to keep placement in mind and consider whether any other furniture will be placed around the gallery wall.
  • Create a palette when selecting images and frames. Your palette can complement or contrast the rest of the room, but make sure it maintains some element of cohesion so it appears like it was done by a professional.
  • Play with different mediums. If you are creating a large wall, mix photos with paintings and illustrations to make it feel eclectic and personal.


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