Proper preparation is key to hanging any artworks, picture frames or mirrors.
Thinking about the location and placement is the first step and then preparing the tools and hanging fixtures that you will be using that are most suitable for the item you are hanging.
What Height Should I Hang My Pictures at?
Hanging height for pictures is a long discussed and deliberated over issue. Fundamentally it comes down to personal preference and style as well as the context of the location of the picture eg.
what kind of room it is in, what other objects are nearby such as furniture or architectural features and how large the picture is.
Interior designers would say that the best hanging height is 145m (57”) to the centre of the picture so that you can see the item straight on without having to tilt your view up or down to look at it.
This measurement is based on the average human height where the top two thirds of the picture are in a comfortable eye level position.
However, the problem with this formula is it can be too broad a strategy and often only work for smaller art works and would be completely flawed for large pieces.
We also need to take into consideration whether the items are over furniture such as a sofa, a console table or a bed, which would require the picture to be higher as a gap would be needed between the furniture and the frame for it to look right.
Galleries will also use a set middle height for pictures in their exhibitions as it creates consistency and gives the focus to the artworks, as well as being an accessible height for all visitors.
Galleries will use either 145cm (57”), 150cm (59”) or 155cm (61”) to the middle of the picture depending on the artworks being shown and the style of the gallery or curator.
In homes we would suggest trying out both 155cm (61”) and 160cm (63”) to the middle of the picture as we find this is the most preferable height for people, particularly if the ceilings are high or if you are on the taller side 160cm to the middle will feel much more natural.
What Fixings Should I Use to Hang My Pictures?
It’s important to select the right hanging fixtures for your pictures and this is dependent on the wall material as well as the size and weight of the picture you are hanging.
In the past it would have been common to use nails for everything regardless of size or wall type, and for heavier items to just use larger nails.
These days there are many different types of fixings to use and we actually recommend not using nails to hang pictures unless they are very small light pictures and that the wall is plasterboard.
The reason we don’t recommend nails is that they often don’t have any purchase in the material they are in and can just easily pull out which makes them unsuitable for pictures with any weight or size as it just creates risk of damage.
Also using the wrong nails on the wrong type of wall can cause a lot of damage to the wall by making large blowout holes in the plaster or masonry and having no luck getting the nails to purchase.
For concrete and masonry walls (this includes brick and render) we recommend always using a fixing in the form of a plastic plug that is inserted into a pre drilled hole and then can be screwed into with a screw fixture.
These plug fixtures twist and expand inside the hole, pushing outwards and gripping themself in place with the force of the screw expanding them.
For the best fit we recommend drilling out the hole for the plug at a slightly smaller size so that it is a tight fit already before any screw goes in, this stops the plugs from turning and spinning before they have been able to expand.
Screws can be used with all kinds of picture hanging fixings including wires and string, but also d-rings, brackets, cleats and nearly all other kinds of hanging fixtures.
It’s recommended to always choose screws that are the same length as your plug or ideally a bit longer so that they can extend out from the wall and have a good grip and also break the end of the plug for extra strength.
For plasterboard walls (sounds hollow when you tap on them) there are a range of fixtures available but it’s important to keep in mind that most hanging fixtures can’t take much weight on plasterboard and to seek professional assistance if you have larger or heavier items.
For most small items under 8kg we recommend plasterboard picture hooks which are brass coloured steel hooks that use a pin hammered through guiding holes to secure them to the wall.
They are stronger than nails as they transfer the downwards pressure on the pin fixing from the weight of the picture, across the surface of the wall and use the wall itself for their strength.
These hooks are limited to under 8kg per hook however and we don’t recommend using them for anything heavy or large.
For heavy items on plasterboard you will need to use a fixing that screws into the wall or that opens out behind and pulls itself against the wall for extra strength.
When you need to use screws for hanging an item we recommend the metal self drilling plasterboard fixings, which once in the wall can be used with screws similar to the plastic plugs.
We recommend drilling out a pilot hole for these as they can create a large hole in the wall if used to make their own hole, which you then can’t use to hang anything from.
These fixtures are useful when you want to attach something over the top such as a bracket or a hook, but can also be used to hang from with screws protruding out of the wall, as with the masonry plug and screw.
Another strong option are the spring toggle (butterfly) fixtures which have two arms that expand behind the wall and the bolt pulls them tight against the back of the wall, these can be used with a hook bolt for string or wire or with a screw head bolt for passing through another hanging hook or bracket.
A fixture that can hold 30kg on single sheet plasterboard or 70kg on a double sheet is these specialist fixtures made by Timco and Rosett.
They are designed with a plastic shaft that will twist up and knot itself behind the wall as the bolt is screwed into a nut at the end of the fixture.
These are some of the strongest small fixtures available but their limitation is that you must be passing the bolt fixture through another fixing such as a hook plate or bracket so that it is pulled up against the wall for the plastic to knot behind, it can’t be used with screws protruding from the wall for hanging off of.
Gripit plasterboard fixtures claim to hold up to 100kg by their manufacturer however we wouldn’t recommend putting this to the test. The fixtures are on the larger size and can require up to a 25mm hole for their use.
Geefix are another specialist fixing that holds up to 75kg on single sheet plasterboard but also requires a large 25mm hole for their use.
We would recommend consulting a professional for the installation of these larger fixtures as it comes at the risk of damage to the wall when making larger holes.
Hopefully these tips for hanging height and the right hanging fixtures will give you confidence in hanging your pictures and artwork the right way and with the appropriate fixtures for their size, weight and wall material.