Time Frame Gallery has more than four decades of experience serving Vancouver and the surrounding areas with quality custom art framing services. Our experience has taught us some useful information, which we’d like to share with you all. We’ve listed out some basic tips on hanging pictures; we hope that helps.
Tools of the Trade
You need the right tools for the perfect execution of a job, and hanging your artwork is no different! The first four tools are pretty basic and can be found in your garage. In case you don't have them, you can get them in any hardware supply store.
Hammer: It’s preferable to have a traditional claw hammer that has some weight to it, and with some practice, you can learn to drive the nails without bending them.Tape measure: You’ll need a sturdy tape that’s 12 or 15 feet long, so don’t go for the cheap ones.
Pencil: Any pencil will do the job, but it’s better to have a sharp, number two lead pencil, which is easier to erase.
Picture hangers: We would advise you to go with the 20, 50, and 75 lb hangers that are available in most hardware and home improvement stores. You can combine them for higher weights.
Straphangers: It’s always safe to use straphangers while hanging heavy paintings. We use two or three-hole straphangers from United Manufacturer’s Supplies. However, there are other manufacturers who offer quality straphangers.
Drywall anchors: Some artworks are not presented in traditional frames, and mounting them with wires or hooks is not possible. In those cases, where it's heavier than 120 lbs; you’ll need drywall anchors. We prefer the expanding metal screws, which are driven into the wall. Although plastic drywall anchors and metal drywall screw mounts are available, they are not as stable as the expanding screws.
Simple Preparatory Steps
Clear your wall and your workspace: We advise you to move all your furniture away and clear the space before you hammer in the hook. Give yourself access to the hanging space to avoid damage to artwork and furniture.
Determine the wall composition: It’s important to understand the composition of your wall before you begin. It's easier to mount your pictures on drywall, and we’ve limited our instructions to the same. In other scenarios, it’s better to get a professional's help.
1. Take initial measurements to determine the approximate placement of your artwork. It depends on your personal taste and preferences. Spend sufficient time and plan thoroughly, after all, your instincts are the perfect guide, and your satisfaction is the ultimate goal.
2. Before you begin, make sure that you’ve got all the hardware that’s necessary.
Now You’re Ready to Start
Once you’ve already made the necessary arrangements and selected a suitable place to hang your artwork, you’re good to go. We’ve mentioned some tips that may help.
You have to consider two main factors. First, above what object you’ll be hanging the artwork. Second, the height of that object displayed on the wall.
The goal of hanging the artwork is to achieve harmony throughout your space. Creating the common height can help. Align the centers of the artwork in your room to achieve the common height.
1. Determine the center height of the artwork. In other words, how high off the floor your artwork needs to be placed? Eye level should be the perfect height, especially if you stay alone, and you’re the one who will be enjoying the artwork.
2. Most of us don’t live alone! Unless, everyone in your home is of same height, you should compromise on your center height. We feel 60 inch is a good middle ground!
3. We have a simple mathematical formula to determine the center height.
1/2p + i – w = h
Where p is the height of the picture, i is your ideal height, and w is the distance between the top of the frame and the highest point on the picture wire.
Alright, that didn’t really help simplify things either. Let’s try an example and illustration and see if it makes the process easier to understand.
Let’s say your new artwork measures 24” high x 36” wide, and that the wire is 3 inches from the top of the frame. To get our hook height, we would take the height of the painting, 24”, divide it by two, to get 12” (in other words, 12” is the vertical middle of the painting, which we want to align to our ideal middle height). We would then add that number to our ideal height, 60”, to get 72”. This is where the top of our painting will be on the wall. Now, all we have to do is subtract the wire distance, 3”, to get 69”, which is the height we need to place the hanger. Easy! Now you can measure 69” up from the floor, make a pencil mark on the wall, and pound in your hook.
If we were to now hang another piece of artwork on the same wall, we would see how this formula forces the alignment of the artwork. If the second piece of artwork were 40” high x 44” wide, with a wire that came to 4” inches below the top of the frame, our calculation would be:
Dividing the height of the painting, 40”, by 2, we get 20”. Add that to 60”, the height where we want the middle of the painting, to get 80”, the height of the top of the frame on the wall. Subtract 4” to get the top of the wire at 76”.
Extremely Tall Pieces
The formula works extremely well for the artwork of any height up to 120”. Once you get to 120” you run into the floor (if you are using my 60” middle height). With tall pieces, I prefer not to hang right on the floor, but rather up 8”-12”, depending on the size of the piece.
Measuring for our hook on a tall piece is actually pretty easy. We’ll measure from the bottom of the piece to the top of our hanging wire, and add that number to 12” to get the height of our hook.
Now let’s say you bought two smaller items and you propose to hang them along, one above the other on the wall.
Hanging groupings is really no tougher than hanging one piece, and in reality, I think about any grouping to be one piece. Any measurements are going to be taken from the grouping, not the individual items.
For smaller pieces, I usually allow about 4” between the paintings. I carefully lay the artwork on a table or on the floor, measure the total height of the two pieces, including the space between them, and then run your calculation. The resulting number will be the height of the hook for the top painting. Go ahead and hang the top piece.
Now, measure the distance between the wire and the top of the second piece. Add four to that number, and then measure down from the bottom of the first piece by that amount. This will give you the hook location for the second piece. You may have to take the first piece off the wall once you have the height of the hook so that you can place the second hook directly below the first (a level comes in handy for this job).
In our example, we used paintings similar in size. If the paintings are of different sizes, the middle height might not be right in between the pieces as it is in the illustration. That’s okay, you just want the mid-line to be in the middle of the grouping.
If the pieces are different sizes you will also have to decide whether you want the larger piece on top or underneath. There’s a great debate on this subject. Some insist that the larger should always be on the bottom, others say it should be on top. I’ve hung both ways and recommend you do what feels most natural to you.
If you have more than two pieces, you will use the exact same technique of creating a grouping and using the grouping to make your measurement calculations.
Thus far we’ve been hanging on a blank wall, not dealing with furniture. What if we have a sofa or table that will sit under the artwork? If the furniture isn’t in conflict with the artwork using the methods above, I would basically ignore the furniture and hang the artwork using our middle-line method. As long as you have sufficient space between the furniture and the artwork, this will look best. If the furniture, or artwork, is too tall to allow for this, do the same thing we did with tall artwork: create a space (I like 8”-12” inches) and measure up to the wire.
You may use the same approach to hang a painting over a mantle or in a niche – measure up from the desired bottom of the installation.
Using Multiple Hooks
If a piece is heavy, or if you want to help prevent the artwork from shifting off level, you can use more than one hook to hang it. All of the measurements and formulas remain the same, but instead of placing one hook or screw on the wall, you will use two or more, separated by 4”-5”.
Using multiple hooks facilitate distribute the load. If the wire is on 2 hooks it becomes way tougher for the painting to shift and become crooked thanks to vibrations or bumps.
Alternate Method: Trial and Error
If all the math and formulas seem like too much effort, you can always use the trial and error method. Hold the piece up on the wall at a height that feels right to you, estimates where the hook would need to be in order to get you to that height and pound in a hook. Step back and look at the piece. You can measure the height of the middle of the piece from the floor, and if you are off significantly from where you would like to be, take the painting down and move your hook accordingly.
This method usually only requires moving the piece one or two times to get it right. You would be surprised how many gallery owners, artists and other art professionals use this method. With the Floreat™ hangers your nail holes are so small that they are almost inconsequential. You won’t feel that you are destroying the wall if you have to move the hook a few times.
Never Use Adhesive to Hang Artwork
Never try to use adhesive to mount the artwork. I’ve seen artists attempt to hang artwork using plastic hooks and industrial adhesive. I suppose some of them may have been lucky and had success with this technique for very light artwork. This kind of luck doesn’t hold out, however. Eventually, the artwork is going to fall. I have no doubt that some adhesives are strong enough to take the weight of artwork. The problem, however, is the surface you are trying to adhere to. If you glue a hook to a painted wall, you are, in essence, placing all of the weight of the artwork on the paint. The paint will eventually peel away from the wall and your artwork will end up on the floor.
Don’t worry about holes in the wall. Better to make a few extra holes in the wall to get the placement just right, than have the piece hung incorrectly. Holes are easily patched and painted over.
Never use defective hanging hardware. Throw away bent nails and hooks. Trying to use damaged hardware will only lead to frustration, bruised thumbs and damaged artwork.