how to hang framed art

How to Hang Framed Art

Get a whole new look for your home by learning how to hang framed art correctly


Remember that time you walked into a friend’s home and spotted a gorgeous display of artwork that made you drool with envy? Then there was the time you tried to hang wall décor, but it didn’t turn out anything like the magazine picture. You turned your walls into Swiss cheese, and later that night, a large framed print crashed to the floor.

The quickest and most effective way to update your home is with new wall décor. But if you don’t know how to hang framed art, it can be a challenge – unless you have a few tips up your sleeve. “The most important thing you should know about hanging art is … [it’s] not an exact science,” says Jason Horejs, owner of the Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ, and the author of several books. Horejs has been hanging art for a living for years, so he ought to know!

He adds encouragingly, “You should also know that there is no objective right or wrong way to hang a painting. The most important thing is to hang the art in a way that feels right to you.”

There! Don’t you feel better?

how to hang framed art

How to hang framed art: three steps to stellar décor

How to hang framed art: Step 1

Ready to get out there and buy some art? Time to go shopping – and the latest trends in wall art are perfect when you’re looking to upgrade your décor instantly.

Some of the most popular images these days include botanical prints, birds, and portraits. If you have a
more quirky sense of style, a hot trend is to buy vintage paint-by-number pictures at yard sales and flea markets. Beachy art, such as this beach house print, is popular these days – not surprising since so few of us get to live near the beach!

Also popular are oversized scrabble tiles, arrow images, and inspirational words how to hang framed artor sayings such as this “Be Bold” print. Other trending looks include dreamy watercolors or Impressionist-style images like this pretty combination of asters and mums, pictures of old license plates arranged to create phrases such as this Andy Warhol-inspired piece, and abstract paintings or prints.

How to hang framed art: Step 2
With your new treasures in hand, it’s time to consider placement of your art. There are entire classes at art school on this topic, but remember, the only hard and fast rule is what looks good to you!

There are several ways to decide where you want to hang your art. One easy way is to cut out pieces of
paper in the same size as each piece, then use painter’s tape to attach them to the wall and move them around until you find a pleasing arrangement. If you’re hanging more than one piece, leave three to four inches between each one.

Once you’re happy with the arrangement, measure the distance from the top of the frame to the piece’s hanger, or to the top of the picture wire on the back. Mark that spot on the paper template, and drive your nail or screw right through the paper (if you’re using a hanger, instead of a nail, be sure the hanger portion is aligned with the mark, not the nail or screw). Tear away the paper and you’re good to go.

how to hang framed artAnother option, which requires a second pair of hands, is to put a dab of toothpaste (not gel) on the hanger on the back of the frame, or on the corners. Have the other person hold up your art while you step back and consider. Once you’re happy with the positioning, the other person can tap the piece lightly against the wall to leave a toothpaste mark where the hanger should go. Pro tip: Remember to wipe off the toothpaste when you’re done!

One of the hottest trends these days is the gallery wall. This can seem a bit intimidating because it means positioning many pieces of art of different sizes and shapes. Jen Bekman, founder of the popular online art shop 20×200, advises, “Mix paintings and photography, black-and-white and color and combine high and low pieces. To start, use two to four pieces hung in the center at the same height to establish your anchor or focal point and fill in from there.” (A good rule of thumb for those two to four central pieces is hanging them so the center is 60 inches off the ground.)

Bekman suggests laying your art on the floor to play with the arrangement, and taking cell phone photos to guide you in transferring your final plan to the wall.

How to hang framed art: Step 3

Finally, you’re ready to hang your artwork! First, assemble your tools. You don’t need anything specialized and probably already own most of these tools: hammer, tape measure, level, pencil, toothpaste.

(Yes, toothpaste. You’ll see why in a minute.)how to hang framed art

You’ll also want to buy picture hangers with nails, or, if your art weighs more than 1 lb., anchors and screws. Unless you’re handy with a drill, look for the latest thing in anchors: stainless steel (not plastic) anchors that you can screw directly into drywall, plaster or wood without pre-drilling. Keep in mind that not all wall materials are equal to others. Wood paneling and drywall cannot support pieces that weigh more than a couple of pounds on a simple nail, so anchors and screws are required.

If you do use anchors, it doesn’t matter whether your wall is drywall, plaster, or wood paneling – and if you try to drive a nail into plaster, well, that’s how you know it’s plaster. You can’t do it. Get out your screwdriver! However, if you have concrete or brick walls, you’ll need a drill with a masonry bit.

One last tip: If you’re hanging something extra heavy or wide, it’s a good idea to use two hangers about four or five inches apart. This will distribute the load and prevent shocks or bumps from jiggling your art and making it crooked. A level will help you keep the two hangers even.

Now you’re done! Step back and enjoy. Of course, it’s easy to find the perfect pieces to mix, match and express your personality here at, and your new wall décor will make others jealous of you!

Still need a few ideas?

This Vintage – La Chat Noir Framed Art Print is a classic for a reason! Good design never goes out of style!

Or keep the French theme going with this Paris – 1908 Framed Art Print or this Meet Me at Le Café 2 Framed Art Print. Before you know it, you’ll be snacking on croissants and cappuccinos all day long!