January Project: How to Hang a Picture

This step-by-step tutorial will teach you how to properly hang a picture. In Hank Hanging a Picturegeneral, assess the wall material, identify the weight of your picture and gather the supplies. The following instructions are more detailed and give you a few procedures to make sure your photo is level and at the right height.

Step 1: Assess the Wall

Drywall, the most common surface, is also the softest and inserting a picture hook is fairly uncomplicated. However, because drywall is the softest, it is recommended that you use an electronic ‘stud finder’ to locate a vertical beam of wood in the wall and hang your picture there, using a screw instead of a nail. (If you don’t have a stud finder, you can pick one up for cheap or you can just tap around on the wall. Spaces will give an echoing sound. You'll hear a thud when you find the stud.)

If there is no stud in the space where you want your picture to be, you can still hang up your piece- just use the appropriate size picture hook. You'll find the right hook by looking at the weight limits on its package. To provide even more support, be sure to hammer the nail at an angle.

Aside from two hooks, a toggle bolt will also provide extra support for a heavier picture. A toggle bolt has ‘wings’ that slide through a hole drilled into the wall and expand after it has been pushed through. It grips the wall from the inside as it is tightened.

Although plaster tends to hold fasteners better than drywall, you’ll want to drill a hole and use a wall anchor in this case. A wall anchor will give a little extra grip in supporting the frame and make sure the screw doesn’t slip out.

Brick or masonry is similar to plaster with one exception. You may want to add little epoxy into the drilled hole. As soon as the epoxy dries, you can start hanging your picture. Make sure you use the right sized hook for your picture when working with brink or masonry. Once the hook contacts the epoxy and dries, it will be difficult to remove.

You'll find toggle bolts, wall anchors and epoxy at a hardware store.

Step 2: Hang Your Picture

After assessing the surface, it's necessary to look at the wire which holds the picture on the hook. If the gauge of wire is too thin, it could break and ruin the picture. The heavier the frame the, thicker the gauge of wire needed. The wire should extend up into the middle of the space between the top of the frame and the screw eyes. If you can see the wire over the top of the frame, you’ve gone too high.

At this point, you may want to grab another person to help. While the other person holds the frame up to the wall, you can stand back and decide at which height you want to hang your picture. Then, mark the wall lightly with a pencil at the top center of the frame. This will be your ‘marker’ line.

Flipping the frame over, push the wire on the back of the picture up towards the top of the frame. Make sure you press hard to simulate the picture hanging on the wall. Now, measure the distance from the peak of the wire to the top of the frame This distance, between the wire and the frame, is called the ‘drop’.

Then take the same measurement (the drop) and mark an X below your marker line on the wall. (For example, if the distance from the peak of the wire and top of the frame is 1¾, measure 1 ¾ down from the marker line.) At this marker line, you can set your picture hook.

Use a level to check the alignment of your picture. To make changes to the height, you can adjust the wire.

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