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How to hang pictures

Oct 4th, 2011
How to hang pictures
Photography by Snappermedia.
Oct 4th, 2011

A home isn't truly a home until the walls are adorned. Here's how to get it right.

Hanging pictures in your home is as easy as finding the right inspiration for the images you choose and then using the right products to hang them with. With a few simple tips and tricks, you'll have your home looking like an art gallery in no time.

Choosing the right finish

Printing with a thicker weight paper usually results in more vibrant colours. High gloss or matt create different feelings, so make sure you know what you want before you have them printed. For a more elegant feel, go for a black and white or sepia treatment.

Keep framing simple

To really make your photos stand out, keep your frames as neutral as possible. Choose simple lines and keep to white or black. If you're looking to make a statement, go with something sculptured or with a metallic finish.

Placing your pictures

The centre of the picture should be approximately at eye level on the wall. Although this will vary depending on the viewer's height, aim for an average. Decorate narrow walls with small pictures and large wall spaces with bigger frames. When hanging a picture above a piece of furniture, try to keep it to 75 per cent of the width of the furniture — the picture should never be wider.

Damage-free hanging

If you live in a rental property or simply don't want to make holes in your walls, picture hanging strips are your best bet. 3M's Command Picture Hanging Strips come in black or white to ensure they're invisible from the side no matter what the colour of your frame. Their large strips hold up to 7.2kg. They're easy to stick on and come off cleanly without damaging walls if you change your mind. They're particularly handy when creating a mood wall with lots of images — you won't have to put multiple holes in your wall that you'll have to putty up and sand the next time you paint. Plus, if you want to move the mood wall to another area of your home, you can do so whenever you want. Hanging strips aren't recommended for wallpaper however.

Hanging heavy frames

For frames over 7kg (you can weigh them on your bathroom scale), you'll have to drill into your wall. Masonry walls made of brick, concrete or stone require drilling a hole that's the exact size of the anchor you're using. Plasterboard walls are trickier as they're generally not strong enough to hold heavy pictures and can be damaged. Whenever possible, anchor your pictures directly into the timber wall studs which are spaced 400mm to 600mm apart behind the plasterboard. You can use an electric stud finder to locate the studs.

If your frame weighs up to 10kg, use a nylon anchor for a masonry wall. Drill a hole that's the same diameter as the anchor then tap in the anchor with a hammer. Leave the nail sticking out of the wall to hang the picture. For plasterboard walls, use a Wall-Mate. You don't need to drill — simply drive it into the plasterboard and add a screw hook.

The best anchors for pictures weighing up to 15 kg are plastic star plugs for masonry walls and toggle bolts for plasterboard walls. Plastic star plugs are colour-coded for length and size so drill your hole accordingly. Toggle bolts are very useful when you don't have an available stud — they have wings that open up inside the wall, spreading the weight over a larger area. Drill a 10mm hole then install the toggle bolt with a setting tool.

Heavy pictures weighing up to 20kg require heavy-duty anchors. For masonry walls, a Dynabolt hook will do the trick. Drill a hole, then tap in the bolt and twist the hook to tighten it. Plasterboard will need a four-pin hanger, which has a built-in spirit level to check that it's straight before you hammer in the pins.

Providing extra support

If your frame is quite heavy, you might want to give it extra support by stringing your hanging wire through two D-rings or screw eyes on the back of the frame. Pull the wire tight and make sure it won't be visible when the picture is hanging before securing it. Measure the distance from the top of the picture to the wire, then mark the hanger positions on the wall taking this distance into account. Use a spirit level to readjust your marks so they're level before you hang the picture. You can use the level again once it's hung to make sure it's truly straight.

For more DIY tips, check out our Products & Advice section.

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