How To Precisely Hang Pictures

This weekend I was happily surprised to find my art above the piano as an example on Apartment Therapy among other amazing designers and bloggers.
What makes this art work stand out is that we put it on a symmetrical grid pattern with identical frames. The method is not new and designers use this way of hanging art since it can be elegant and cover a large space. Putting these botanical prints together didn't cost me very much money either, since I found the frames on clearance.
One reader asked how to precisely hang pictures and I thought it would be worth explaining how we hang pictures. Here's her question: "as it turns out, I know how to lay out a grid, and I can use tape or pencil to mark where I want the top and bottom of the frames to go. The problem is I don't know where to PRECISELY position the nail. With a wire hanger: where? a few millimeters makes a big difference. With a tooth-thingy: where? With a ring, where?"
So I went to my trusty professional picture hanger- my hubby, and he helped me explain how to accurately hang pictures. Here you go:

If you know where the top-center of your picture needs to be, the only real trick is knowing the vertical distance from the top of the frame to where the nail needs to go. I've learned (from sad experience!) that even if multiple frames are bought at the same store, they never hang the same way. Sometimes the picture wire is longer or shorter or the attachment points are different. This means you’ll need to measure each frame separately.

Hang the frame in air by the picture hook (or nail) to see how it will hang on the wall. The goal is to get the distance from the top of the frame to where the nail will hit the wall when the frame wire is taut.
In this case, the distance is 1 15/16" down from the top of the frame. Measure down from the top-center mark on  your wall by that distance and mark that location. This is where you nail is going to go.

Since the picture hanging hooks have the nail at an angle to the wall, it can sometimes be difficult to get the nail to enter the wall at the exact mark at the exact angle for the picture hook. Here's what I do to get around that.

Tap the nail straight into the wall a little bit (about 1/16") to make a hole. Then, put the picture hook against the wall with the nail tip resting inside of the hole you just made and hammer away. Essentially, the nail hole is the guide for where the nail needs to enter the wall. The picture hook helps you define the angle of the nail.

Even if you are really careful, sometimes your picture is just a smidge low. If this is the case, I wrap the picture hook with a bit of duct tape to raise the height a little bit. That way I don't need to add another hole!
When hanging pictures, especially with a single D-ring or "toothy-thingy", even if you get the vertical height exactly right, the frames sometimes tilt or easily move around which scratches up your walls. This is usually because the attachment points aren't in the exact center of the frame. To help with this you, can add adhesive rubber bumpers (like what you have on kitchen cabinet doors) to the lower corners on the back of the frame. This adds a bit of traction between the frame and wall and your pictures won't move around as much. 
You can find these at any hardware store and they cost pennies. I hope this helps!


  1. wow, I never even thought about those rubber-thingies- I'm going to get those ASAP b/c I have a ton of crooked pictures in my house. Thanks for the tips! Also, congrats on Apartment Therapy!