Hanging Art, A Guide

How to Hang Art

Everyone will eventually find themselves needing to hang art. It’s a must have skill for artists, but it is often the cause of hours confusion and frustration. I’m not sure how many pieces of art I’ve put up for critiques, shows, and in my own home, but it’s probably well over a hundred. Over the last few years I’ve narrowed in on a simple system to get things hung properly and efficiently. Here is the Knock Twice Guide to Hanging Art.

How to Hang Art

Equipment

First, let’s take a look at what equipment you might need when hanging art, the following items will prepare you for almost any hanging scenario.

  • Paper & Pencil
  • Tape Measure
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill & Drill Bits (You’ll need a hammer drill and masonry bits if you’re drilling into concrete)
  • Screws & Wall Anchors
  • Nails & “Picture Hangers”
  • Bonus Points: Stud Finder

Types of Hanging Hardware

The separation between how different frames are hung comes down to two options – a single screw /nail or two screws/nails. A single screw is used for frames with the hanging point in the centre – usually this is a wire or some sort of bracket. Two screws are used when there are separate pieces of hardware on each side (something like d-rings) or if the piece is thin height-wise and long width-wise.

Hanging Art that Requires One Screw

There are two final measurements you need – the height at which your screw goes and it’s position width-wise on the wall. Finding the width-wise position is easy as it’s in the middle of your piece (just divide the width of your work in half and you’re done). The height is a bit trickier, here is how to do it in three measurements.

A. Centre Line – All work hanging in an environment should have a common centre line so that all the middles line up. A good height for a centre line is 137cm (54in) to 152cm (60in) from the floor, though larger work is usually hung a little lower.

B. Half the Height of Your Piece – Measure the height of the whole piece and divide it by two.

C. Hardware to Top Distance – Measure from the top of the piece to the top of the hanging hardware. If there is a wire make sure its fully taught when you’re measuring (else your piece will sag and be at the wrong height).

To get the height required for the screw just do the following:

A+B-C = D(istance from the Floor to the Screw)

 How to Hang Art Diagram

Now you have both the height of the screw / nail and where it goes width wise, that’s all you need!

Hanging Art that Requires Two Screws

For art requiring two screws follow the steps above (C would be the distance down to your hardware on either side) until you have a point in the middle at the correct height for the hardware (D). Then measure from one piece of hardware to the other, width-wise, and centre it against the middle point. Make sure to use a level when drawing your two points for screws (floors are rarely perfectly level so measuring up from the floor can lead to mistakes).

Pro Tips

  • Use one tape measure the whole time to get even measurements.
  • Use a stud finder to check for metal and electrical wires before drilling / nailing.
  • Measure twice, drill once.
  • When in doubt, draw a diagram.
  • When it comes to the size of screw / nail it’s better to overdo it and use a stronger one.
  • Ask for help when hanging large pieces.
  • Watch out for hardware that hasn’t been attached evenly and compensate for it in your calculations.

Have any questions about hanging art? Ask away in the comments!

Image © Eugen Sakhnenko

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3 Comments

  1. Bonus points for a laser level if you’re hanging a bunch of things at once!
    I’ve also used a length of string to create a straight, easy-to-remove common centre line for multiple artworks. Especially useful for those all-too-common situations when the gallery floor is so off-kilter or bowed that you have to strike a balance between “true” level and the appearance of being level.

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