How to properly hang a picture

Hanging a picture can be harder than you think. Here's how to do it right.

By Jay Somerset

hanging picture

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When I was younger, hanging a picture meant banging a nail-and nail; size didn’t matter-into the wall. Often this resulted in broken drywall, large, unsightly holes or insufficient affixtures, with heavier pictures falling off the wall in a loud crash.

So when I finally grew up and bought a place of my own, I decided it was time to hang things properly, according to weight and wall material. I learned that hanging a frame isn’t a two-second job, nor is it a weekend-long gig. It just takes a bit of planning. Here’s how to get hanging.

Hanging a picture (20-pounds or less): the key here is to go minimal. Even in drywall, you don’t require wall plugs or predrilling. Instead, just use picture hooks. Yep, it’s that simple. Because the thin hook only goes into the wall a tiny bit, always on an upward angle, you won’t crack the drywall and your picture will be snug and sound. If you’re hanging a large picture, just add a few hooks instead of just one.

Coat hook: front halls and mudrooms are great spots for small hooks for coats, umbrellas and other items you grab when you’re heading out. Usually a no-frill addition, these hooks should always be anchored into a stud.

Wall shelf: Similar to coat hooks, wall shelves should be anchored into studs wherever possible. Make sure at least one screw goes into a stud. For the other spots, you should predrill a hole using a bit just slightly smaller than the screw you intend to use. (Make sure your screw is suitable to the wall material; drywall screws for drywall, etc.)

If you’re hanging something heavier, the rule above-at least one in the stud-holds true, with any other screws drilled right into the wall. Except, here, you will likely require a wall plug. Simply drill a hole slightly smaller than the plug, then screw your screw into the plug. Done and done.

Other considerations: think about the last time you were in an art gallery. What height were the pictures hung at? As a basic rule, picture height should be about eye level, but you can certainly play with this according to your own taste and, uh, height. Whatever you choose, it’s a good idea to mark the height before attaching the hook or screws so that it hangs right; otherwise, it will slowly annoy you over time.

To mark the height, hold up the picture and mark the bottom or top of the frame on the wall using a pencil. Then measure the distance between the top of the frame and the spot where the hook will latch onto. For larger or heavier pieces that can’t simply be lifted up and marked, make a template using cardboard or paper, and then use this to measure.

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Feb. 8, 2012

6:01 pm

Finding the right location for the nail can be a real challenge. Try Hang & Level, this tool marks exactly where the nail goes. It'll save you tons of time and frustrations too. See it here

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