TCW - Life, Style & Wellness

Expert Tips For Hanging Artwork

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Now that you purchased that perfect piece of artwork, you'll want to place it to the best advantage both visually and safely. Deciding where to hang artwork is a two-person job---one to hold the artwork and another to ponder it.

Here are some tips from art hanging experts.

1.  The center of the picture should be at eye level, approximately 60" from the floor.

2.  Leave at least a 3" to 6" gap between the top of a sofa and the bottom of the picture frame, and 4" to 8" from a tabletop.

3.  A grouping of pictures should be treated as a single composition. Hint: make paper templates of each piece and tape the templates to the wall using painter's tape. Rearrange until you get it right for your eye.

4.  Center the picture or grouping across the wall or over a piece of furniture.

Measuring and Making Your Mark

1.  While holding the picture in place where you want it on the wall, put a strip of painter's tape on the wall, making the bottom edge of the tape even with the top of the frame. Mark each end of the frame on the tape. Then remove the picture from the wall. 

2.  If the picture will use only one wall hanger, you want to place that hanger at center-of-frame. Measure the width of the frame and divide by two. Then measure this distance in from the marks on the painter's tape. Now turn the picture over and measure from the top of the frame to the point the picture will hang. If the picture has hanging wire, hook the metal end of a tape measure under the center of the wire. Pull up until the wire is taut and measure up to the top of the frame. If the picture has D-rings or sawtooth hangers, hook the tape over the top of the frame and measure down to the ring or hanger. Then transfer that number onto a hanging location on the wall by measuring down from the bottom edge of the painter's tape, at the center point. Use a level to make sure your new mark is plumb with the mark on the painter's tape.

Choosing Hardware

1.  For most jobs, use a simple hanging kit (includes a J-hook and nail). The wire on the back of the picture will hang from it. Hanging kits are generally sold according to the weight of the artwork. To find that weight, weigh yourself on a bathroom scale while holding the picture and then subtract your weight from it.

2.  Consider using adhesive picture hanging strips for normal-size pictures. They leave no holes in the wall and are easy to remove without damage to walls.

3.  If the picture weighs 25 pounds or more and a stud is not present, use a wall anchor on drywall or plaster walls. Anchors that spread out behind the wall, such as toggle or molly bolts, provide the most holding power and help keep plaster from cracking.

With the Spring art shows, art fairs and gallery season about to begin, you'll be good to go!

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