How to Hang Framed Pictures

handyman hanging frame
What You'll Need
Stud finder
Measuring tape
Picture hook
Toggle bolt
Wall anchor

If you’ve already found the perfect artwork, you’ll want to display if for everyone to see. Whether you want to hang it in your living room, the office, or a hallway, here’s a guide to keeping your walls safe while hanging your framed pictures.

Step 1 - Understanding Your Hanging Surface

First, check your hanging surface. If your work of art is a large, heavy piece that is going to be hung on drywall, you may want to use two picture hooks to make sure it gets plenty of support. Difficult surfaces like plaster or brick may not be worth the hassle of drilling just to hang up a smaller piece. If you plan on hanging a collection of pieces, make sure you sketch your ideas out first.


Inserting a picture hook into drywall is fairly uncomplicated. However, because drywall is soft, use an electronic stud finder to locate a vertical beam of wood in the wall to hang your picture on. If you don’t have one of these devices, you can pick one up for cheap, or you can just tap around on the wall to find studs. Spaces will give an echoing sound. When you hear the “thud,” that’s the stud.

If there is no stud in the space where you want your picture to be, you can still hang up your piece using an appropriately sized picture hook. The lighter the frame, the simpler the picture hook needs to be. Usually, you can find the right hook by looking at the weight limits on the hook packaging. Be sure to hammer the nail in at an angle to provide more support.

For bigger pictures hung on drywall, you may want to use additional support with a fastener. Besides using two picture hooks, a more reliable way to provide support is to install a toggle bolt. A toggle bolt has “wings” that slide through a hole drilled into the wall and expand after it has been pushed through. It grips the wall from the inside as it is tightened.


Although plaster tends to hold fasteners better than drywall, forget about the hammer and nail. You’ll want to drill a hole and use a wall anchor, which is a sleeve inserted into a drilled hole that will expand as a screw is driven into it. This will give a little extra grip in supporting the frame and make sure the screw doesn’t slip back out.

Brick or Masonry

To hang a frame on brick or masonry, you will generally use the same process as you would for plaster. In addition, a little bit of epoxy can be inserted into the drilled hole. As soon as the epoxy dries, you can start hanging the photo. However, when you insert the screw or hook, be sure it is large enough to support the weight you need; once it goes in and the epoxy dries, it’s not going to come back out easily.

Step 2 - Hanging Your Picture With Gauge Wire

Now that you have decided on the location your art should hang and picked the correct hanging device for your wall type, it’s time to take a look at the wire that will be supporting the weight of the frame. If the gauge of wire is too thin, it could break and send your framed piece crashing to the floor. The heavier the frame, the thicker the gauge of wire needed.

This wire should then be attached to screw eyes, which are driven into the wood of the frame about 2/3 up from the bottom. For frames made of metal, there should be sliders in about the same spot. The wire should extend up into the middle of the space between the top of the frame and the screw eyes. If you can see the wire over the top of the frame, you’ve gone too high.

Mark the Height

Unless you’re hanging a fairly small frame, this is where it can be handy to have a second person’s help. While the other person holds the frame up to the wall, you can stand back and decide which height is best to display your picture and then mark the wall lightly with a pencil at the top center of the frame. This will be your marker line.

Measure the Drop

Flipping the frame over, push the wire on the back of the picture up toward the top of the frame. Press hard because this is to mimic the wire hanging on a hook. Then, measure the distance from the peak of the wire to the top of the frame; this is called the “drop.”

Then take the same measurement, the drop, and mark an “X” below your marker line on the wall. For example, if the distance from the peak of the wire and top of the frame is 2 inches, measure 2 inches down from the marker line. This is where your picture hook will hang.

Hang and Adjust Your Picture

Now hang your picture and, with the help of a level, adjust it to your taste. If the picture seems too high or too low, adjust the wire on the back of the picture to achieve the desired result. Now your favorite art piece or your family picture will be on display for everyone to admire.