How to hang pictures

Take a look at our expert guide on how to hang pictures and paintings

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Whether you are hanging photo frames for a family display or turning a wall into a feature with a single piece art, it's important to know how to hang pictures and painting correctly, in order to make them look their best. Take a look at our expert guide on how to hang pictures securely, in the correct light and with the right mounting tools so you can admire them for years to come.

What to think about when choosing artwork

Think about the essence of your home and what you like doing in and around it. However, there is no hard and fast rule here and you can often put an 18th-century portrait in a
contemporary setting, where it will look magnificent. Choose paintings, photographs or prints you personally fall in love with as they are the ones you will want to live with and see again and again in your house.

Deciding where to hang painting or prints

Bedrooms will take pretty, pastel-coloured images and a dining room more darker, serious pictures. Hallways and less important areas can often take a series of prints. An important oil painting should occupy a strong focal point within a room such as over a fireplace. A large
painting hung on a staircase will give maximum impact. Do not hang a picture where it looks squashed or place a small picture in a vast space.

bathroom with grey wall and bathtub

(Image credit: TBC)

Mounting and framing pictures

If you are framing a print a mount around it as a border will add that extra special finish.
Use one that is no more than half the width of the picture. Any wider will swamp it and distract. Select a frame which suits both the style and period of the picture. As a general rule, the more contemporary the picture the simpler the frame.

At what height should paintings or pictures be hung on a wall?

Most people hang pictures too high; you should not have to strain your neck to see them. The general rule is to make the centre of the picture roughly five feet from the ground. You should not end up looking down or up at it. In rooms where people are usually sitting down - such as a living room or dining room - eye-level will be at a seated position so artwork should be hung a little lower. Roughly one hand width above a sofa is a good way of gauging the right height.

start with neutral wallpaper

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Picture hanging kit

Here's a list of tools and equipment you may need in order to hang pictures safely and securely depending on the size and weight of your pictures.

Tape measure Painter's tape (which is more gentle than masking tape)

Pencil and rubber Spirit level

Hammer and Drill Picture hooks that come in singles, doubles and trebles

Raw plugs and screws (for heavy weights)

Picture hanging wire or cord

Ready made picture hanging kit (which usually consists of various hooks and cords)

Fixing pictures to the wall

room with blue wall and home office

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Hold your picture up to the wall and place a strip of painters tape above it. Mark each end of the picture on the tape and put aside the picture. If the picture is small and light it will only need one central hanger. Divide the width of the frame by two and measure the distance from the marks on the tape, double checking it is central. Or, for larger frames mark for two hangers set an equal distance either side of the central point and transfer these to the tape.

Next, take your picture and measure the back from the top of the frame to the point the picture will hang and transfer this to the wall with a pencil down from the bottom edge of the painter's tape.

In order to choose the right hardware to hang your picture you need to know the weight of your picture and the type of wall you are attaching it to. Your local hardware store will stock picture hangers for all sizes and weight you're dealing with and labels on the packaging usually gives the maximum weight each one is designed to hold.

Lighter pictures like photos, film posters and general prints are likely require just a nail, or a nail and a rawplug or picture hanger. But larger and heavy art may need to be secured to a wall stud behind the plasterboard and need a supporting mounting bracket (hardware stores will advise). And finally, once your attached your fixing to the wall test it by pulling down hard on it by hand before you hang anything on it.

How to ensure that a painting or picure is hung straight

This is usually a two person job. Ask someone to guide you while you hold the art against the wall. Once mounted double check with a spirit level your picture is straight. Protect your walls by placing felt sticky pads at the back bottom of each corner and this will also help your picture from moving.

room with wooden shelve and cane basket

(Image credit: TBC)

How to create a wall arrangement using several pieces of artwork

Start with the large central artwork or photo frame as a main focus and then hang other pictures around it, possibly in pairs. Symmetry is essential. Try to balance the room as you cast your eye round it. Using the same frames keeps the look smart and cohesive or mix and match styles and colours for a more relaxed and eclectic look. A good way to work out your picture display before you commit is to create a mock paper version first. Draw on paper around each frame and cut out templates for each picture then arrange with blue tack (taking care not to mark the walls) the perfect arrangement you desire.

Lighting pictures

If your art is very special you may want to light it for full effect. There are many options to choose from; classic styles can be screwed into the frame and not the wall as otherwise you will have to repair the wall each time you want to move the picture. Picture lights from Hogarth have a very thin wire, which you stick on to your wall and paint or paper over - useful if you need a light somewhere where there is no socket. Or more common in modern homes, halogen spotlights can be angled towards your pictures to light them without wires, holes or screws and is a more subtle alternative.