How To Hang a Piece of Artwork

Congratulations! You just purchased a piece of art. You are officially an art collector! Did you just purchase an original painting? Or a print? I know that my next art purchase will be a piece by one of my artist crushes, Meredith Mejerle. No matter the piece, and no matter how small or how large your art collection, how you display the artwork in your home makes all the difference. There are a few key points to ensure that you maximize the impact of each piece of artwork, so read along and learn my best tips!

 
Sideboard-3.jpg
 

#1: Hanging Hardware

Before you even think about nailing a hole into the wall, you need to consider the hardware that may or may not be attached to the back of the artwork. All pieces of artwork that come from my studio are fitted with a wire across the back of the painting, attached with two D-rings, so I’ll be describing my approach hanging art with this hardware in mind. Most artists will fit their work with their preferred hanging attachment before transferring it to the client, so this shouldn't be something you, as the collector, need to worry about. Often times artwork on paper will be hung in a frame, which might have either loose D-rings or a sawtooth attachment. These aren’t as strong or reliable for large canvas paintings, so be wary if a large canvas painting arrives with this fixture. But for small framed pieces, it is fine!

#2 Wall Height

The most important decision you’ll make about hanging your artwork is where it will go! I would recommend having a partner to help you with this, so one of you can hold the piece up to the wall to check that the painting is going in the right place. Typically, I base the height of the painting above the floor on eye level. I situate the middle of the painting at eye level, which is typically 57-60 inches. Of course, you sometimes have to consider some extra height if it is above a piece of furniture, but if it is free-floating on a wall, I would be sure the midpoint of the painting is 57-60 inches from the floor. Mark the top edge of the painting - you’ll need that for later.

#3 Nail Height

The top edge of the painting is typically not where the nail will go in the wall. If you have a wire attached to the back, you need to account for the drop of the wire as it hangs on the nail. The best way to determine this differential is to use a measuring tape, hook it to the wire, and pull it taut. Measure the distance between the arch of the taut wire and the top of the painting. Since you have already marked where the top of the painting is, use the number you just got from the taut wire, and measure down from the midpoint of the top edge of the painting. Mark this darkly - this is where your nail is going to go! If you have a large or wide painting, you will need two nails, so use this same method, but with two nails hooked onto the wire, not one.

#4 Nail Types

My best suggestion for hanging anything on a wall is to use a picture hanger nail. I like getting mine at Home Depot because they have the widest range of options. For heavier paintings, you can choose ones with multiple nail holes for some extra support, but for most pieces, you’ll just need one with a single nail. For wide or large paintings, get two! If you have multiple hooks, you will have already notated their spot on the wall in step #3. This will help stabilize the painting once it is hanging on the wall.

#5 Hanging The Art

Ok, it’s finally time to hang your artwork! You’ve marked your spots on the wall, you have your picture hanging hardware - its time to nail into the wall and get that painting up! Position the crook of the hook on top of the spot you have marked on the wall. This ensures that the picture will hang in exactly the right spot. Point the nail through the hole in the hook, and hammer into the wall. If you have a second hook, nail that one in too. Putting the art on the wall is sometimes easier with a second set of hands, depending on the size of the artwork. Run your hand behind the wire, and push it towards the wall, and guide it into the hook. Gently rest the painting into the hook, step back, and level the painting so it hangs straight.


Congratulations - Enjoy seeing your beautiful artwork hanging on your wall, and thank you for supporting an artist!