Archive for the ‘Series: How to hang pictures’ Category

scan0013Straighten up!

Someone was asking the question ‘how do I keep my pictures straight?’ Good question! It drives people crazy when their pictures keep going crooked all the time. There are a few answers for that problem.

If your pictures are hung on a single hook with picture wire, take the picture down and take out the hook. Replace one hook with two or more hooks depending upon the width of the picture. The farther you spread the hooks out, the less likely it is that the picture will go crooked.

If your pictures are hung with a saw tooth bracket there are a few things that you can do.

  • The first thing to do is to make sure the bracket is centred on the frame. With ready made framed prints that include a bracket, the bracket is often off-centre. Pry off the bracket and replace it in the centre.
  • The second  is to put two nails side by side in the wall that will fit at either end of the bracket instead of one nail in the middle.
  • The third is that you could take off the bracket and replace it with a longer one that has been properly centred on the picture and put two nails in the wall that fit at either end of the bracket.
  • Yet another way is to take off the bracket in the centre and add a bracket at either end of the picture about 1/4 of the way in from the side.

When hanging the picture, draw a line with a level that is the width of the picture. Mark where the brackets are and then when you put in your nails they will be level and therefore the picture will be level. Using two well spaced nails or two brackets and using a level will keep your picture from shifting at all. Note: Make sure the two brackets are parallel on the frame. If one is higher than the other your picture will not hang straight.

For hanging a  picture with a picture wire you must get the two or more hooks  level with each other. To do this, draw a line with a level, almost the width of the picture where the wire will go. You now have a level line on which to place your hooks. (see whole series How to Hang Pictures for details)

Another way to keep your pictures from shifting is to purchase a roll of double sided tape. I like the extremely thin kind for crafting rather than the foam mounting tape. It doesn’t show at all. With the picture still hanging on the wall, slip a small piece about (2-3 cm) of the double sided tape behind the bottom, back side/edge  of the frame at each corner where the frame touches the wall. Place a small level on top of the picture and adjust the picture until it is level.  Press the bottom of the frame gently in place.


  • Use flat headed nails to hang saw tooth brackets
  • Use picture hooks to hang pictures that have a picture wire
  • Use a level to draw lines for hooks or nails
  • Place a level on the top of the picture frame to get the picture straight. Dont’t eyeball it, it doesn’t work.

Presto! No more crooked pictures.

For detailed information about hanging pictures and making picture groups see my series of articles ‘How to Hang Pictures‘ and ” Making Picture Groups’. There are clear explanations and diagrams. The article ‘Photo Hanging‘ is a good overview of what you are trying to accomplish as well

There are also products that you can buy that you stick to the back of your frame. They have tiny pins that grip the wall but only leave barely visible marks when you take the picture down. Hardware and big box Craft stores carry such products under different names. See one source that was sent in by a reader in the Comments section.

Happy picture hanging. Take your time and enjoy the process.


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picture-groupings-0031A 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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picture-groupings-0091Hanging 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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picture-groupings-0061 “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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picture-groupings-013-blog62More 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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scan0003-blog-2-5Placing 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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