Hanging Photos: The How To’s

While hanging photos might seem like an easy, quick task; it can quickly turn into your worst nightmare.

The first step is to decide where your art is going to go. Is it a completely blank wall? Is it going over a sofa? Or is it going over a table? A bed? After you decide where then you will need to decide on how many pieces of art you would like to use.

When hanging artwork, you have three main different ways to hang art on a wall.

Hanging Photos

Place one large statement piece

Follow the 2/3 size rule. The piece of art going over the sofa or table will need to be at least 2/3 the size of the object; it can be larger, but not smaller.

Hanging Photos

Place multiples of the same style

Always hang photos around eye level. If you leave too much space between your sofa or table and picture, it could draw attention to where you least want it.

**A good rule of thumb is a 3-6 inch gap between sofa and pictures, 4-8 inch gap between table and pictures.**

Keep colors in mind! Balancing colors across the wall instead of in bursts can help keep your photos looking nice and professional.

Hanging Photos

A gallery wall, which you will start with your large, main photo as an anchor and work outwards from there. 

Hanging Photos

  • If you choose multiple pictures, be sure to treat them as a whole, rather than individual units.
  • Always start with the anchor piece (usually the largest), be sure to offset it on the gallery wall.
  • Feel free to mix and match your frames, just keep mat colors the same for consistency. If you want a more relaxed look, mix and match wood and metal. For a more formal look, mix and match frames only, keeping each frame color and mat the same.
  • Always center pictures and groupings within the allotted wall space, horizontally and vertically.
  • Balance the impact of the frames, especially if they are all different sizes

Hanging Photos

Here are some items to keep in mind as you hang:

  • 58 and 60 inches is the standard from the floor- to the center of a picture
  • To ensure photos last as long as possible, it is best to keep photos out of direct light and high humidity.
  • Consider easels and shelves instead of nailing your photos directly to the wall.
  • Consider showing off decorative screw eyes instead of hiding them on the back of the photo.
  • If you need help deciding which option to choose, be sure to check out this short video from HGTV Host, Emily Henderson.


You might be asking yourself, “I know where I want it to go, I know what I want to hang, but how?”

It is time to consider your options to hang up art. 

Hanging Photos

SAW TOOTH HANGER: These are best used when the artwork is light. If you are attaching saw tooth hangers yourself, you can purchase them with nails attached, saving both time and money.

Measure the top of the frame and mark your center. Place the saw tooth hanger centered on the mark and hammer those nails in. Simply measure the saw tooth hanger to the top of the frame. Place that measurement on the wall from the top point of where the frame will lay. Now you are ready to hang!

Hanging Photos

EYE SCREWS: Eye screws attach directly to the frame and hold Ribba’s (more on this later). The eye screws can be either be placed on the back of the art or at the top with decorative eye screws. If you are placing eye screws yourself, below are step-by-step instructions.

Measure the height of the picture frame and mark 1/3 of the way down from the top. (When the wire lays flat against the wall, it should be about 3/4 of the artwork.)

Use your awl to ‘pre-drill the spot your eye screws will go. This will make it easier to screw the eyes in.

As you screw the eyes into the frame, it can be useful to use your awl as leverage. Martha Stewart has a great example of using an awl to tighten eyes.

Hanging Photos

Determining where your photos will be placed on the Wall

Hanging Photos

One method is to use a neat little gadget called Picture Hanging Tool. You use the prongs placed on the lower side of the tool to hook the wire into. Then place it on the wall in its desired spot, checking the provided level at the top, and press firmly into the wall. A small little indentation will be made on the wall where your nail or anchor will go!

If you don’t want to spend money for the Picture Hanging Tool, you can also use a tape measure to do the exact same thing!

  1. Place the top part of your tape measure to the wire, and pull.
  2. Once you reach the maximum it will go, note the measurement from the top of the tape measure to the top of the frame. This is where your nail will go.

Hanging Photos Using a Paper Template to Create a Gallery Wall

Deciding on a location for one picture is fairly simple, but arranging several pieces in a single space can get a bit more complex.  The simplest way is to use newspaper or scratch paper to create a template for each frame.

If you’d rather watch a video instead of step-by-step instructions, check out City’s video.

  1.  Place your frame on top of the scratch paper or newspaper.
  2. Using a pen or pencil, trace the frame label it.
  3.  Mark where the frame hangs from (ie. saw tooth hanger, wire, etc) and  mark an arrow to indicate whether the art is vertical or horizontal
  4. Cut out your template.
  5. Place painter’s tape on your template or use a reusable adhesive.

Now you have a movable template that won’t damage the walls or peel the paint.

Hopefully, you have all the information and tools to hang your photos up correctly and safely! However, if you need help with art selection, frame color/style, placement, or any design assistance for your home- we are here to help!

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