AdvicePainting and decorating

Top tips and ideas for hanging photos

Decor and furniture can certainly make a home, although it is the personal touches that really finish one off. Ornaments, books and keepsakes all add to the story, but personal photographs and art really show off your tastes and who you are.

Many of us leave these visual displays on the mantel piece or dotted around a bedside table, whereas we should really be showing off our art and photos to their best advantage by positioning them on our walls. It does not take too much skill to frame, place and hang pictures and you will be able to enjoy them when hung alone in pride of place, or in groups that you curate much like a gallery would organise an exhibition.

Picture of a living room with several hanging images

Tips for hanging photos and pictures

The first step in displaying artwork and photography is framing. For this, you can either use a professional framer (which can be expensive) or you can buy some frames from a department store, online specialist or DIY outlet. Most frames will carry information telling you how large they are or how big the pictures are that they can accommodate, with many coming with mounts that set the picture off within the frame.

Common sizes follow the usual sizing scheme of photographs, such as 10×8-inches, and paper sizes, such as A3 or A4. The best way to budget is to have your more valuable or special pieces of art framed professionally and do the rest yourself, ensuring that you have clean hands and wear cotton gloves if you can, so as to avoid fingerprints inside the glass on your frame.

Picture of pictures hanging from the wall in matching prints

Organising and placing your pictures is every bit as important as framing and it allows you to create themed groups, seemingly random selections or highlight individual paintings, prints or photos. If you have lots of small pictures then these are best placed in groups, whether that is in a group of six over your sofa or even a small gallery alongside your staircase. You can mix different sizes and styles of frames if you are confident. There is no real right and wrong when hanging pictures in this way in your home, but try not to leave a small picture alone on a large wall. It will look a little lonely and out of proportion.

Mark out where you want to hang your picture by running a pencil along the top of the frame when you have found the perfect position. This acts as a guide. You can rub it out and use a spirit level later on to find a true level if you want to be accurate, although bear in mind that your pictures will often move or get knocked anyway once they are hung.

Hanging the pictures is the part of the job that scares people the most and the reason that many of us have pictures sat in frames propped up against a bookshelf or chair. If you really don’t trust yourself to hang pictures, or if you have particularly heavy pictures to hang, then call in a handyperson. He or she will be able to drill holes where necessary, checking for studs and avoiding wiring, before hanging your paintings or family portraits.

Picture of a living room with portraits hanging from the wall above the sofa

Small pictures can be hung yourself using a cheap and simple picture hook, which you simply attach to the wall by tapping its nails at a downward angle into the wall. You can then hang your picture from the frame or add some picture wire or string to the back and hang it from that. The picture hooks with two nails are more secure and will hold your pictures more securely than those with a single nail, which are only really suitable for postcard-sized pictures. Be sure to affix the pictures so that the hook does not show.

Larger pictures can be hung by a specialist hook from your picture rail, if you are lucky enough to have a home with this handy period feature. If you are not, then use a couple of hooks or a flush frame fixing, which fits to both the wall and the frame. You can also attach your frame to screws, or use a screw casing known as a ‘spiral anchor’. These can be driven into the wall with a screwdriver and your screw then driven into them. Your DIY or art supplies shop should carry ones specially made for picture hanging. They are ideal for hanging heavy canvasses or paintings, meaning that your painting won’t fall off the wall taking the plaster with it.

Picture of a man in a grey shirt hanging a frame

If you don’t feel confident hanging photos or pictures yourself then why not call in a tradesperson to complete the task for you? Post a job on Rated People in our handyperson category to receive quotes from recommended tradespeople in your area.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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