A quick & easy way to adjust the height of pictures:
This is the final article in my series about hanging pictures. This series explains all the tricks and tips that I have discovered over many years. I hope that it will save you the frustrating aspects of the job and leave you with the enjoyment of creating a finished look on your walls.
Using picture wire
The most useful reason for hanging pictures with picture wire is that you can adjust the picture wire instead of moving the hook and creating another hole in the wall!
If you’ve measured and put in your hook and the picture appears too high or low, follow these steps.
- Take down the offending picture, untwist one end of the picture wire and let it out a bit to lower the picture or take it in a bit to heighten the picture. Give the wire just ONE twist to hold it in place.
- Try it out on the hook. Repeat this adjusting process until the picture looks right. Then finish by twisting the wire snugly and hang the picture.
- Another quick fix: If a picture is a bit to far to the left or right, add a second hook the appropriate distance to the left or right of the first hook. This will shift your picture to left or right.
Adjusting the picture wire works well for any single or grouped picture if you feel, after hanging it, that it is an inch or so too high or low. The more space that you have between the top of the picture frame and the wire, the more room you have for adjustment.
Have fun hanging your pictures. Take some time, measure carefully and they will look stunning!
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Hanging with a claw-toothed bracket:
If you wish to just use the claw toothed bracket on the back of your picture, you have to make sure your nail lands in exactly the right place on the first try. If you have to lower the picture a bit to make it line up with another picture, the old nail hole will show once the pictures are hung.
- Instead of a picture hook, use a nail with a flat head. A nail catches in the claw bracket much better than a hook and does not show over top of the frame.
- Make sure that the toothed bracket is exactly centred on the frame. If it is not, pry it off with the claw of your tack hammer and hammer it back on exactly in the centre of the frame. Use a long bracket with more than three teeth.
- Measure from the bottom of the claw to the top of the frame (hanger distance). This can be anywhere up to an inch.
- Hold the picture against the wall exactly where you want it to be. Draw your top of the frame line. Lower the picture. Mark the hanger distance __. Mark the centre of where you want your picture | . Draw your vertical line to form an +.
- Tap the nail in at the + mark but leave the head of the nail sticking out about 1/2”. Put the picture on the nail and adjust it on the claw bracket to the left or right until it hangs correctly.
- If you use two nails spaced equally on either side of your + mark, the picture will never go crooked.
Once the picture is on the nail(s) correctly, grab the top of the frame directly over the nail(s) and push the picture, nail(s) and all, the rest of the way into the wall until it sits flush and snugly against the wall. Put a level on the top of the picture (if you used just one nail) and adjust it slightly until the frame is level Your picture will now hang straight and will not shift around easily. It is firmly attached to the wall.
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“Adding a picture wire” continued: Tips & explanations
Things such as putting picture wire on all pictures and having a consistent hanger distance and the extra measuring involved saves you an amazing amount of frustration when you are hanging a group of pictures. Leveling a group of only two pictures can drive you crazy, never mind eight or ten. The small amount of extra time and effort that you put into preparation actually ends up saving you a lot of extra time and high blood pressure in the end. It really streamlines the process and saves your walls from becoming a bulletin board.
If the apex of the wire is consistently the same distance from the top of the frame, your pictures will now hang level with each other. You can now easily hang another picture with the same hanger distance beside the first one and they should hang level with each other even if the frames are different. Just use a regular size level and extend the mark for the first picture across to the second.
- I try to place the apex of the wires on all my 8x10s & 11x14s the same distance (2-1/2”) from the top of the frame. That way I don’t have to measure each picture no matter how thick or thin the frame is.
- Actually write the hanger distance on the back of the frame and you will never have to measure it again when you move the picture to another location or another house.
- I like the wire to have a shallow, inverted V shape instead of straight across because I find that the pictures do not become crooked as easily as they do with a straight across wire that the professional framers use. The wire is looser and therefore is easier to get onto the hook, especially with a large picture or one with more than one hook.
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Adding a picture hanging wire:
Picture wire gives you more flexibility when hanging pictures. The pictures will hang straight and if you use two well spaced hooks, stay straight. You can make adjustments to the height of the picture without repositioning the hook and the hook never shows.
Measure the sides of the frame down ¼ to 1/3the distance from the top of the frame on both sides (for an 8×10 frame, I like 2-1/2 “). Mark the frame. Twist in an eye-hook at the mark on either side. This is easier if you make a small starter hole with a small nail or use a drill with a very small bit. Once you get the eye-hook started, put a large nail through the eye to twist it all the way in. The nail makes it much easier to twist the eye- hook into a hardwood frame.
Feed one end of your picture wire through outside of the right eye-hook, across the picture and then through the inside of the left eye-hook leaving a 2”-5” tail of wire, the bigger the picture, the longer the tail of wire. Twist the tail around the wire snugly. Measure down the centre of the back of the picture 1-1/2 to 4 inches (no less than 1-1/2”to hide the hook) depending on the height of the picture frame. Mark this spot. Hold the wire at your mark with one hand at this spot and pull it reasonably taut with the other hand (it forms a shallow, inverted V shape) as if it was hanging on a hook. Pinch the wire around the eye-hook so that it stays in the right place, and then let go of the apex. Cut the other end of the wire leaving a 2-5” tail. Twist the tail around the wire snugly.
Tips & explanations for this article- article #8
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More Tips & Explanations:
- The Hang & Level tool has a pin that marks the wall where your nail goes only if you are using a nail or anchor & screw to hang your picture. If you are using a picture hook, the bottom edge of the hook is placed on this mark to nail it. Depending upon the size of the hook, if you put the hook’s nail in on the mark made by the Hang & Level, the picture could be up to 1-1/2” too low. This is not terribly important when hanging a picture on an empty space of wall, but becomes important when hanging a picture over a piece of furniture or absolutely essential when hanging a tightly spaced group of pictures.
- For a very large or heavy picture use two hooks about 4”- 6” apart. Using a level, extend your horizontal line about 4” on either side of your vertical line. Put a vertical line 2”-3” from each side of your + mark to make two more + marks and nail in your hooks on the new marks as above.
- If you use two hooks to hang all pictures, they are less likely to go crooked, but you have to measure carefully & use a level so that your hooks are level with each other and properly centred. The picture will hang slightly higher than you intend if the wire is stretched across two widely spaced hooks, unless you let the wire out slightly to maintain the hanger distance. This slight difference in height only really matters when lining up a row of pictures that are closely spaced.
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Placing the picture hook
One of the most frustrating aspects when hanging pictures is nailing in the hook multiple times before it is right. Although you have carefully measured and marked the place to hang the picture, when it is in place you realize that the picture is too low, too high or does not line up with the one beside it. You end up with an unsightly group of nail holes in the wall. Following the simple guidelines below eliminates one of the reasons that this happens.
Place the nail in the hook so that the nail goes through both holes in the hook but does not protrude through the second hole that goes against the wall. Place the hook flat to the wall with the very bottom part of the hook on the horizontal line (do NOT place the nail on the line) and hold the hook firmly in place so that it does not slip downward as you are nailing it. All it needs now is a couple of taps with the hammer; then erase your pencil marks and hang your picture.
For the final step, place your level on the top of the frame and adjust the picture until it is level.
· You place the bottom of the hook on the mark because the picture wire hangs on the hook part of the hook not the nail part of the hook that is up to 1” higher than your mark. This becomes essential when you are hanging groups of pictures so that they line up properly.
· Use a small level to make your vertical and horizontal marks. Picture hanging kits at the Dollar Store often include a small level as well as hooks, eyes and picture wire.
· Always use a level to extend your vertical and horizontal marks
More tips to follow
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Hanging pictures above furniture
The space between the furniture and the bottom edge of the frame should usually be no more than 10″ often less in most cases.
Tip. There are exceptions to any rule. For instance, you can stretch this measurement to 12 to 15″ over a very large, low piece such as very low backed, ultra modern sofa, if it makes more sense visually. This could be because, for instance, the picture or group of pictures is four times wider than it is high. In that case, hanging it 10″ above a low backed sofa could just look silly because the centre of the picture ends up too far below the 60-64″ mark.
- Measure 6″-10″ up from the furniture and place a horizontal mark on the wall. Measure the height of the frame. Measure the same distance up from your bottom mark and then you have your top of the frame mark.
- OR, you can measure the height of the frame and add 6″ to 10″. Measure up from your piece of furniture that amount and make your top of the frame mark on the wall.
- Find the centre of the piece of furniture and make your vertical mark.
- Measure down from your top of frame mark the picture wire/hook distance and make your horizontal mark.
- Make sure the two marks cross.
Put the bottom of your hook on the horizontal mark with the nail of the hook on the vertical mark and tap it in. Hang your picture. Place your small level on the top of the frame and adjust the picture until it is level.
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Measuring to position your picture
You’ve assembled your tools and decided roughly where you want to hang your picture. Now you need to take some measurements and make some reference marks on the wall. Measurements are essential for grouping pictures or placing over furniture.
You need to find & mark four measurements; The optimum height for the picture the centre of the wall space, where the top of the picture frame will land and the hanger distance which is the exact distance the wire or the bottom of the toothed hook on the back of your picture is from the top of the frame
- Optimum Height: For reference only, make a pencil mark X or stick a square of masking tape 60″-64″ up from the floor at roughly the centre of the space.
- Centre of the wall mark: Measure the width of the area in which you want to hang the picture. With a pencil, make an up and down mark on the wall. This is your vertical centre mark. [ | ]
- Top of the frame mark: Hold the picture up against the wall. Centre it on the vertical mark with the middle of the picture at the optimum height. Lightly mark the wall along the top edge of the frame.
- Hanger distance, Picture wire: Put the picture down. Hook the metal end of your measuring tape under the wire at the back. Pull the wire taut with the measuring tape as if it were hanging on a hook. Note the measurement. Measure down that distance from the top of the frame mark. Make a side to side mark on the wall. This is your horizontal hook mark. [ __ ]
- Hanger distance, toothed bracket: The teeth of the bracket are not at the top of the frame. The claws are a ½ ” or more below the top of the frame. Measure this distance as above and mark it on the wall. This measurement is essential to line up a grouping. The claws on each picture are never attached to the frame in exactly the same place.
Extend the vertical & horizontal marks using a level to keep the lines straight and level, until the lines cross each other. [ + ]
This is where you place your hook with the bottom of the hook on the horizontal line and the body of the hook on the vertical line.
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PLACING THE PICTURE:
The first step to hanging pictures, once you’ve assembled your tools, is to decide where to place it.
On a space of wall where there is no furniture, the center of the picture or picture group should be about 60 to 64 inches (1.5m – 1.6m) above the floor. If you are between 5’4″ and 5’8″ in height, the centre of the picture should be level with your mouth. If you are taller, place the centre of the picture or group below the level of your chin. If your are shorter place the center of the picture level with your eyes or the top of your head. The best way of course is getting out a measuring tape.
When hanging a picture or group over a piece of furniture place it so the bottom of the frame is six to eight inches (15 to 20 cm) above a sofa, chair or headboard and no more than 10 inches (25 cm) above a table.
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