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How to hang perfectly level décor on your walls

by Catherine Bell |

Framed pictures or artwork are an excellent way to add personality and style to your home. They can take a room from ordinary to extraordinary instantly. But hanging pictures isn’t as easy as it may look. It takes time, patience, maybe a little help and a lot of measuring.

Here are the answers to the questions you need to know to get it right the first time.

What tools do I need?
What tools you need depend on the size and weight of the picture. There are a few options that will work. Small, fine nails are great for light framed pictures or you can take a step up if you have a relatively heavier picture and, in that case, use a screw. If it’s even heavier than that and you’re mounting it straight to drywall, purchase drywall anchors that are specifically made for hanging pictures. All of these you can buy at any hardware store.

There are a few essential tools you’ll need to use for hanging your wall décor. Most importantly, a tape measure – to locate the position of the picture central to the wall or wherever you want to position it and to measure the proximity of the hanging hardware on the back of the frame. You also need a pencil to mark the position of your nails and an eraser to erase that mark off the wall once you’ve installed your picture.

You'll need a hammer if you’re using nails or a screwdriver if you’re using screws. A manual screwdriver is fine, but an electric screwdriver makes it easier. You should never need a drill, and even the drywall anchors are self-tapping.

To make sure your picture hangs straight, you will also need a level, and though you may be tempted to skip this tool, you’ll be happy that you didn’t. No one likes the look of a crooked picture.

Can one person do it or do I need to recruit a friend?
A single picture is straightforward to do with one person but if you’re hanging more than one or need someone to stand back for reference while you’re positioning the picture that can be very helpful.

Where on a wall should pictures be hung?
Having a view of it in place before it’s 'fixed' to the wall will help you decide if it looks right so this is where it’s nice to have someone’s help. Having said that, there really is no hard and fast rule for where on a wall a picture or pictures should hang though most pictures look best hung at eye level — not too high, not too low. Eye-level, in this case, is average height about 60-inches from the floor. It’s also best to leave a few inches gap between the bottom of the frame and the top of a piece of furniture that you may be hanging it over.

How do I hang things perfectly level?
This is where things get real. Measure twice (or more if necessary) then you only have to hang it once. 

Measure the position of the framing hardware on the back of the frame:

 

 


For pictures with D-rings or sawtooth hangers, hook the tape over the top of the frame and measure down to the spot where the wall hanger will be attached and measure in between the hangers as well so you know how far apart to put your nails. Make sure to measure all the hangers in case there is a slight difference in how the manufacturer installed them on the back.

For hanging pictures that have a cord on the back, it is important to measure from the hanging point on the cord with tension. Hang the picture from the tape measure (making sure to support it with your other hand or with the help of another person) and allow the full weight of the picture to hang on the cord and measure from the cord to the top of the picture so you know exactly how far down it will hang when you put it on the wall.


Measure the wall area:
It’s important to have symmetry when you hang a picture or pictures.

Once you’ve informally eyed the position of your picture, mark the wall at the top of the frame where you want to position it.

Then, find the center of the area and the height by measuring down from the ceiling to where the top of the frame will be and indicate those spots with a light pencil mark.

Now measure down from the bottom edge of the pencil marks you just made on the wall using the measurements you recorded for the hardware on the back of your picture. Mark the spot for your nail or screw.

Get to it
Now it’s time to use your hammer or screwdriver. Make sure to set your nail at a little bit of an angle facing down as you nail it so that the weight of picture will pull on the nail while its hanging and it’ll stop the nail from being pulled out of the wall.

Leave the nail or screw sticking out just slightly and then go to the other side if there is more than one nail/screw required.

Finally, erase your marks off the wall, and you’re ready to hang your picture. After suspending the picture on the hanger(s) use your level to check your work.

What if I need to hang more than 1 picture?
Treat a group of pictures as one unit and follow the measuring procedures above for the overall look. The spacing between pictures is a personal preference but the key is to be consistent so if the first two pictures are an inch apart, make sure the second and the third picture measures the same.

What if I make a mistake?
Hopefully, if you measure correctly the first time you won’t have a mistake to correct, but if you do make a mistake, then you can remove your nails and shift your picture and try again following the above instructions. A few things to remember though: don’t get too close to the incorrect nail hole or you won’t have the support you need from the wall for the new nail and make sure your picture covers your mistake so no one will be the wiser until you move or redecorate!

 

Good Luck!

 

 

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