In this section we have endeavoured to cover - as much as possible - all the picture hanging challenges that you at home are ever likely to face... and then some. If however, you have a very unique challenge, that we have not yet experienced or even thought of, then let us know what it is, and we will be more than happy to offer any ideas to help you solve it. And in doing so, hopefully add yet another solution to our comprehensive list of methods and tricks. And might also help another someone in successfully hanging that tricky something.
Top 10 Picture hanging Questions
1. What should I do if my picture has fallen down?
If this unfortunate event has happened to your picture without any external factors (being knocked by someone or something), then it’s highly probable that one of two issues are to blame: 1) old string or wire etc on back of the picture has broken. 2) excessive weight of picture for fittings used and have therefore pulled from wall. 3) A deficient or incorrect method of hanging has been employed. For example, the fittings are the correct size or type for the picture but the use of string, cord, cable wire or chain has been used in such a manor that it overloads the said fittings.
Solution. For all three scenarios there is one simple solution - get rid of all string, cord, cable wire or chain. Use hooks directly to hangers attached to backside of picture. This does mean using two hooks, and it also means being accurate with your measurements. (refer to section _ Using TwinPins).
2. What can I do if my pictures are often crooked?
The cause of crooked pictures is, for the majority of cases, string, cord, cable wire or chain. Or in rare cases, poor measurements.
Solution. As with the first problem, the solution is to get rid of all string, cord, cable wire or chain. Use hooks directly to hangers attached to backside of picture. This does mean using two hooks, and it also means being accurate with your measurements (refer to section _ Using TwinPins).
3. How can I stop my pictures from tilting forward?
Yet again, just another symptom of that same problem, the use of string rope, cord, wire, cable or chain. And at the risk of stating to sound repetitive...
Solution. As with the previous two scenarios, the solution is to get rid of all string, cord, cable wire or chain. Use hooks directly to hangers attached to backside of picture.(refer to section _ Using TwinPins).
Now to be fair, the TwinPin system will also tilt forward, but only a little, and only because the fittings are not paper thin. There is the exception to this rule and that is if the Item is light enough to be carried by a Blind Double Ended Pin. Then it is possible to have the artwork sit completely flat to the wall. (refer Double Ended Pins) The other solution is when the item has been framed in such a way as to have a large enough cavity due to the recess in the frame, then all the fittings can hide snuggly into that space
4. How can I stop the string & hook from protruding above the picture?
Yet another symptom of the string, cord, cable ... scenario. But what makes the string and hook be seen is that is has stretched over time, or that it was simply too long to begin with. Very common occurrence when the picture is of an extreme landscape format (horrizontally long and vertically short).
Solution. As usual, the solution is to get rid of all string, cord, cable wire or chain. Use hooks directly to hangers attached to backside of picture.(refer to section _ Using TwinPins). If there is room in the back recess of the picture then attach fittings inside this space.
5. How do I hang a huge, expensive mirror?
What ever you do, DO NOT use string, cord, wire, cable or chain.
Ensure that fittings used are the correct size for the mirror, and that the method that is implemented is also correct. Disasters occur when hanging Heavy mirrors not from incorrect fittings, but due to poor execution when applying those fittings. And get another person to lift it into place.
Solution. Find the studs where possible. Picture hooks directly to hangers.
In the case of hollow walls use Steadfastener, Builders Cleat or 'Z' plates.
6. How can I find a stud to hang a heavy item?
In the ever-increasing world of ammended building codes and more modern materials, the ‘hollow-wall’ syndrome is an all too common cause of hanging headaches. Studs, shouldn’t be more than 600mm apart, but this doesn’t mean that its a ‘sure-thing’.
Using a stud finder can be helpful. But be aware that stud-finders can also ‘find’ waterpipes, electrical wiring, and the occasional dead rat. A good tip when using a studfinder to help locate studs is that each time the studfinder ‘beeps’ over a stud (supposing that it is actually a stud) push a pin in (a redhead map pin) at that ‘beep-point’. Move on down the wall and try locating the same stud’s line. Each time it beeps place another pin into the wall. Once you have done this the entire height of the wall (from floor to ceiling) you should notice that the pins have more-or-less followed the line of the stud.
7. How do I hang several items straight in a row?
There is only one way to do this well, and that would be the slow and correct way. The key to a great looking set of frames/items in a row is to use millimeters and not centimeters. Assuming that all string, rope, wire, chain etc has been removed from the pictures, we will use the twinpin hanging system for this example.
Solution; Our goal here is to create a set of plot points along a straight line.
Due to the fact that we are using the twinpin method, each picture - lets say we’re hanging three same-sized pictures - will be represented by two pins.
So the final plot points will look like this; * * * * * * (stars represent plot-points).
When marking these plot points, use pins, not a pencil and definately not a ballpoint pen. These points will represent the eyescews on the back of each picture, not the edges of each frame.
The straight Line is determined by the height at which the pictures will hang. This can be acheived simply by holding the picture up and against the wall at the desired height then slowly, gently pressing one of the picture’s two eyescrews against the wall. This should leave a small dent or mark. Put a pin in at this point. This is the height for the straight line. Measure from the floor to that pin point. this is the height value that each plot point should be (provided the floor is plumb). Or alternatively, leave that pin in and once all six pins are in the wall at roughly the same hight, by then using a long(ish) spirit level at the correct height you can then ammend the six other plot pins to match.
To acheive the correct spacing of plot points, place all three pictures on the floor face down with the top of the frames hard against the skirting. Measure the gap between each frame edge and move until the desired space is acheived. Now measure the gaps between each eyescrew and then simply transfer the measurements to our straight line on the wall, again using the map pins to plot. These pins are where you will rest each picture hook before hammerring into place. Be sure that the pins are in the wall well enough to prevent the picture hook from pushing it down and out by the force of nailing it in. Remove pins once picture hooks are nailed in. place all three pictures onto corresponding hooks. Stand well back and check for subtle irregularities that may have occurred due to sloppy measurements or excessive hammering. Minor corrections can be made by simply pressing the relevent eyescrew either up or down.
8. I want to hang several pictures in a group and don’t know where to start?
Solution: Start by employing the TwinPin hanging system with the appropriate sized hooks and screweyes (refer section _ twinpins). To get a good end result so that each picture will stay exactly where you want it and so you can dust them from time to time without the need to straighten them all again and again, string etc will not work. Nor will a single ‘saw tooth hanger’. Once the screweyes are affixed to the back of each picture, then lay out your group of pictures on the floor with the smallest gap possible between each item. This may take several attempts before settling on one. And thats a good thing. Better that it happens now, on the floor, than later after you’ve hung them. With each new layout you like the look of, take a photo of it with your phone camera before re-arranging them again. This gives you several options to revert back to if necessary. Ok, now that you’ve arrived at the best layout, get that trusty tape measure out and while the frames are still laid out on the floor measure the width and height. Transfer the measurements using pins onto the selected wall. The pins represent the outside dimensions of your group of frames. This is important as it indicates the amount of wall that your group of frames will occupy once up on the wall. This is the time to carefully consider just how high, or to the right or left-of-center that your layout will appear when hung. Get it right. Too low, too high or too far left will mean taking everything down and rehanging again.
Begin hanging by selecting the furthest most left frame, based on its height in relation to the top edge of the top frame (highest pin in the wall), measure 1 then transfer that plotpoint 2 using another pin, down from the one in the wall. This pin is the top of your most left frame. Hold the said frame in postion against the wall and using a small spirit level sitting on top of the frame, resting the top edge no higher than its top pin and the frames’ left edge no further left than the group’s left pin - with this position 3 correct and the level saying ‘level’, gently press 4 the frame against the wall so its eyescrews do their thing. Mark off the indentations left by the eyescrews with another two pins 5 (or you can use the ones already in the wall indicating the frames’ top and left edges) then install picture hooks atop of pins.
Fit frame onto hooks - Voila - all the hard work has been done. Now all that is needed is to hang each adjacent frame in relation to the previous one by repeating the 5 steps; ‘measure - plot - position - press - pin’ and once you’ve nailed in the hooks, install the frame.
Each time a frame has been installed, sit the spirit level back ontop of frame and check to see if the frame is ‘plumb’. Minor corrections are possible by bending the respective eyescrew affixed to the reverse of the picture. Try not to mess with the hooks in the wall. The wrong thing to do would be to try correcting the level of the frame by pressing down on one side of it with excessive weight, this will result in putting the hook nails under excessive stress and will fracture the gib. Once the gib plaster is fractured there is little that can be done to repair the hooks’ hole, short of moving the location of the picture and filling the damaged area.
Adding to the group is easy provided the basic steps are followed. This will ensure many years of enjoying a well presented grouping of your favourate framed images, without the irritation of wonky frames with anoying bluetak behind each corner, and no more headaches when they need a quick dust or wipe.
9. How do I hang a picture on the ceiling?
Pictures on the ceiling - really? Well, whatever turns you on I guess. But seriously, whether a ceiling or sloped ceiling, conventional picture hooks will not work. Something of the key-hole type is necessary. Two plates will need to be located - one on each side - about a quarter of the way down from the top, and one more (centered) at the bottom. Of course the size of the item being installed will determine whether three fixing points will be sufficient, but if in doubt, then using two fixings rather than one at the bottom is recommended. Panhead screws are to be fastened into the ceiling (or sloped ceiling) in the correlating positions. Missing studs/purloins? Then wall plugs maybe required. Do not use cheap wall plugs.
10. How do I hang my surfboard so I can still use it?
There are many ‘surfboard - racks’ available. A quick google search should result in several options. But as usual with this sort of product, most of them are from retailers in the U.S. or Australia. So unless you currently reside there or are planning a trip soon, then often the added freight pushes the final cost up to be excessive. There is good news though for those in NZ looking for surfboard racks, as there is a locally grown product called the ‘Claw-hanger’(refer section _‘Claw-hanger’).
This product is simple to install (clear instructions provided) and is discrete in its appearance. The only thing to be aware of when installing is that if the two bottom claws are not fastened into studs or concrete, then the manufacturer strongly discourages installing them until said studs or concrete can be located and fastened into. This is because the weight ofa surfboard will pull the anchors out from hollow walls. Having said this the Claw-hanger is a very functional, robust and good-looking product.
11. How do I hang an awkward 3D artwork?
Yes, eventually this scenario was going to rear its ugly head. This is truly the beast of all hanging jobs. All that is needed to make for a worst-case-scenario is for this ‘awkward 3D thing’ to be the size of a swiss-ball, made of lead and going over a curving stairwell.
The first step when hanging anything is assessing whether or not ones’ desire to hang the item outweighs the time, cost and energy of completing the task. Assuming that this first step has been covered off, then the following assessments are all technical by nature and therefore rather boring, but never the less important.
1. The first next step is to confirm a sure fastening to the object itself. This fastening - be it a hook, loop, hole or bracket will need to be as close to the wall as physically possible and preferably somewhere in the top half of the object (ideally this fastening is somewhere on the backside of the object so as to be obstructed from view once said object is installed on the wall). Take a measurement of this point relative to the very top of the object. Lets call this fastening point ‘measurement A’.
2. The second step is to locate the corresponding point onto the wall, for the said loop, hook, hole or bracket. Lets call this ‘measurement B’. This is simple to do once the math has been recorded. For example, the height of the wall minus the height of the awkward object leaves a value that, when halved, is the amount of wall visible above as well as below the object (if the awkward object is to be centered - vertically - in the wall). Locating the plot point to affix hanger(s) for 3D object is achieved by adding the measurement ‘A’ to ‘B’ and then applying that to the wall by measuring down from the ceiling.
3. The choice of fittings is also very important. Ideally the fixing points will hit studs, due to basic principles of physics the outward and downward pull of weight load will be enormous. (refer section_ Finding Studs) the final location of object - depending on its weight - may well be determined by the location of studs.
Advice on Hooks & Fittings
Basically a long pin, small nail or tack that has the end snipped off with a pair of good strong wire cutters. This simple little idea works best in cases where the artwork/item is too small for the conventional combination of fittings, or if the item must sit as flat to the wall as possible. Ideal for those little regional photos on MDF. Also very useful for small ‘Artmount’ blocks.
Application: Simply nail the pin into the substrate (wall or item), whichever is of the greater density, then press slowly but firmly into position all the while being extra careful not to over-force. Over-forcing will buckle the pins and fracture the weaker substrate, you’ll be left with a crooked image - flat against the wall - but crooked (a word of caution is necessary to a client with little children, very sharp pins are exposed either from the wall or the rear of the artwork/item should the said item be dislodged or removed from the wall).
Twin Pins (picture hooks & screweyes)
Very possibly the single most under-rated picture hanging system ever.
The conventional picture hook and matching sized screw eye is the solution for eight out of ten items. The key to this humble partnership is, no string. Not wanting to labour the point, but hooks and eyes used without string will ensure the safest installation of artwork/items.
Application: Screw-eyes should be affixed as high as possible to the back at each side of item (50-60mm down from top is a suitable distance). Once again, be careful not to pierce through the front of the frame etc.
Once screw-eyes are firmly in place, then locating the exact position of hooks on the wall is simple; hold artwork/item into position against the wall, now press the item against the wall. Doing this will cause screw-
eyes to leave minor impressions in the wall. This is the precise point at which to nail in the 2 matching picture hooks. One at each corresponding point. Map pins pushed in just beneath the indent marks (left by the eye-screws) act as good markers if there is a need to turn away for a moment and in so doing lose sight of where they were.Map pins also ensure the hooks do not ‘shift’ downward when nailing them in. By placing a small spirit level on top of the item when positioning it against the wall helps for a near perfect horizontal finish.
Brass Plate Hooks & Strap Hangers
This partnering of fittings are the big brother of the ‘twin-pins & screw-eye’ pairing, in that they are for large/heavy artworks etc. Plate hooks & strap hangers are somewhat larger in size and weight with two screw holes per fitting. Again, best results are achieved when used without string, cord, wire etc. Strap hangers are fitted as far apart from each other as possible (on the reverse and at the sides of the frame), and approximately 120mm thru to 500mm down from top edge of frame. Of course, distances down from top edge of frame really are determined by how large the item is. Plate hooks (for the wall) have holes for screws. It’s not recommended that nails are used. In many cases this will also mean using wall plugs, due to the ever increasing use by builders and developers of gibboard.
Wall Plugs; Be sure to choose your wall plug carefully as not all wall plugs are created equal! The 6mm Gorilla expanding plug with flange (as well as the 6mm Toggler alligator plug with flange) is an ideal size for this particular plate hook because the holes in the plate hook are only about 30mm apart, therefore if larger plugs are used, having two large holes at such close proximity will run the risk of the plugs (as they expand) fracturing the gap between the two holes. Plugs with a flange are best whenever installing into ‘hollow’ walls. The flange prevents the plug from being pushed through due to the inward pressure as the screw enters it.
These are often provided on the back of ready-made photo frames purchased at the local mall or homeware store. Sawtooth hangers do have their place, but it’s just not my place. The biggest disadvantage with these fittings is that they are only good when used with a flat-head nail. That's all well and good for small frames etc, but inevitably they are fitted to larger frames also. Therefore the purchaser might be forgiven for believing thisis proof that a nail in the wall - even into a hollow gib wall - is sufficient to hang their large frame upon. But this is not the case. Sooner or later (sooner in more cases than later), the large frame will come crashing down. It may be from a gentle knock, or due to the overloading of weight upon the said nail it has simply eroded the gibboard away and therefore pulled down and out from the wall.
Having said this, many who have purchased a larger frame with sawtooth hangers attached do in fact exhibit good common sense and choose to use a picture hook instead of a nail. But, again, the provided sawtooth hanger is generally fitted to the top plate of the back of the frame so as to give no room to conceal the picture hook. End result being that once hung on the wall the viewer cannot avoid noticing the hooks ‘peeking’ out over the top from behind the picture. This is not a good look.
‘Monkey Hook’ drywall picture-hanger
Relatively unheard of in NZ, and definitely underrated as to reliability and ease of use.This little gem is well designed, simple to use and super strong. Ideal for those one-off objects that need just one fitting to be hung, but could also be used as a twin-pin type set-up (depending on the competence of the practitioner).
Ropehooks & Coach-Screweyes
This partnership of hook and screw-eye is biggest-brother to every other smaller weight pairing of like-kind. Obvious benefits are the heavier gauge fittings. This equates to heavier gauge screws or coach-bolts, and therefore a greater resistance-to-load ratio per screw. There are disadvantages due to the larger size of said fittings - the object will inevitably sit away from the wall due to the excessive bulk of fittings (unless the object has a recess at its rear whereby the fittings can be hidden).
A term that perhaps is in need of clarification.
Security fittings are, by nature, only as strong as the material that they have been fastened to. But if in the case of many buildings, the wall is hollow, then the system for all its merits is only as secure as the strength of the wall and its wall plug. Which in most cases is not very resilient. With this in mind...‘Deterrent Systems’ might be a more appropriate term. If someone really wants that picture then ripping it from its anchors takes only several seconds, a couple of good yanks and voila, they’re off with it. If there truly was a security hanger that could actually do the job of preventing villains from succeeding in art theft, then we wouldn't see security guards at art museums now would we.
'T-Screw' with Slotplate
The most commonly used security system currently on the market basically consists of two slot fittings at the top of the artwork and one or two ‘T’ screws at the bottom. This system suits most occasions where the nuisance factor is high, and the art’s value is not.
‘Anonymous-Key-Hole-Plate’ onto 8grm Panhead Screw
A variation on the Key-hole principle whereby the head of the corresponding screw enters into a hole in the plate then slips sideways through the ‘gate’ to rest. Time-consuming to figure out for removal if one is not familiar with its design, so therefore ideal for the above context as well. Very strong, very secure and straightforward to install. One word of warning though, one must be very precise with one’s measurements.
Building products are often a good first port-of-call when faced with curly projects. Several strips of steel strapping should always be kept in stock as it can be twisted and manipulated. This is particularly useful when hanging an item that is excessively bulky out its backside. This ‘bulky-backside’ will inhibit the reach of conventional large ‘hook and hanger’ combinations.
Steel Cable & Crimps
Suspending items from the ceiling or from the top of the wall is always difficult. Finding a rafter, beam or baton is the critical factor to ensure safe and secure anchor-points. Assuming that these are located with said anchors fastened, then your given choice of monofilament or steel cable can be attached. Using crimps are somewhat final, and not ideal for any adjustments necessary.
Most, if not all suspension systems that are currently on the market work by the same principle. That being a top plate, or ‘rail’ of extruded aluminium with a track located on the bottom edge so that a cable can slot into the said track. The top end of the cable (either monofilament, nylon strap or stainless steel) is fitted with a ‘bulkhead’ which then slides, slots or clips into the said ‘track’ so as to be able to travel left or right unimpeded for the purpose of positioning. The cable is slotted into and thus suspended from the track, then fitted with ‘hook’ fittings which are able to slide up and down freely until locked into place. These hooks are the point to which the item is hung.
Fairfeld wall support WMO5
Holds item away from the wall and enhances the appearance when used with perspex panels. The standard fitting holds your panel 20mm off the wall.
Dimensions: 16mm diameter, 20mm length.
Panel hole size 6mm and the fitting takes no. 8 screw.
Material: Brass with Satin Chrome anodising
This product was born out of the need to hang a large malabu surfboard diagonally, into a concrete block wall. Well thought through, simple, strong, alloy, goodlooking and discrete. Although as the instructions stipulate, not designed for fixing into hollow
walls.Only available through Picture Hanging Specialists.
'Picture Hanging 101'
home styling magazine asks for tips
When thinking about where in the house to hang artwork, what are some of the things to consider?
The first thing we ask a client is, "what are your favourites? What are your non-negotiables". Locating the most loved artworks first, really helps when it comes to making decisions on the remaining collection of items.
The second thing, is to cover off the big items. There will only be a few wall-options in any house for big items, so best not reduce the options by using up big walls with smaller items. We also find that the 'first-thing' & 'second-thing' can in fact get covered off together, as they are often the one and the same.
How does the scale of your wall and the size of your art influence what works where? What are your recommendations for placement of large pieces/small pieces?
Refer to the above paragraph(s).
Any techniques for previewing what might work in a given space? Example: using cardboard cut to the size of the work and blue-tacking to the wall - would you recommend this?
We don't do this method, due to the simple fact that an artwork's influence or impact can't be measured simply by it's dimensions. We prefer to hold the artwork in place (use two people if it's big, three if it's huge) and then make a decision. You'll know pretty quickly if it works. Or not. If it's not a confident "yeah-baby" then best look for something alternative to go there.
If planning a collage or gallery of smaller works, what are the key considerations? Any tips for getting it right? So we do about 3 of these montages per day (over 20 yrs of hanging, they add up). After the first 2 or 3 thousand, one begins to see what makes for a good montage, & what makes for an epic one, and it's not what people think. In my humble opinion, the two key factors for an epic montage are, 'quantity & scale'. Let me qualify that; By quantity, I don't mean that 'more' is better, I'm meaning the 'right' quantity. We've installed single montages with more than 100 items that don't look as successful as some with only 25 items. So, 'quantity' means the 'right' quantity, with respect to the size of the wall, & the 'space' as a whole.
By 'scale' I'm meaning the scale of pictures (or more specifically, their frames). Their scale is really important. They need to have conspicuous difference. The scale of big ones need to be a lot bigger than the scale of small ones. If their overall difference of scale is only marginal then the end result will look like a messy grid. For example, if you have 15 frames and the biggest ones are A4s and the smallest ones are A5s, then by the laws of repetition, once they are gathered together in close proximity to one another, they will have the appearance of a 'grid-gone-wrong'. Nobody likes a grid gone wrong. The success of the 'grid' is it's exactness, the success of a random looking montage is its randomness, not it's same-sameness.
On an empty wall, is centre always best? What are the options to consider? And what about the height of the picture – is there an optimum?
This is a complex & multi-faceted question with multiple possible answers. So the quick answer would have to be yes. And no. For us, what is most important is 'context'. The context of the wall with respect to the door? Or the fireplace? Or the standing lamp in the corner, next to the massive couch? All of these factors need to be considered before positioning the artwork. Centering the picture is the right decision much of the time, but not always. Its the same principle regarding heights. We work with many 'interiors' professionals, and they all have their own theories on heights in relation to the centre of the picture. But at the end of the day, the height of the centre of the picture has to be - for example - where the fireplace will allow it to be... and not at eye height.
What is best practice for hooks - two at equidistance from the frame? How do you ensure accuracy with the wire? We don't use wire. Wire or string or chain or cord is not 'best practice'. Twin-pin hanging system is by far the most accurate & efficient way to hang artworks/mirrors. For the best advice on hanging pictures & heavy mirrors, we have "how-to" videos on our website, www.picturehanging.co.nz
How do you counter wall studs maybe not being where you need them?
The correct hardware to use when hanging into 'hollow wall' (gibboard walls) when the studs aren't where you need them to be, really depends on what you're trying to hang. The first rule-of-thumb for hanging average sized pictures (anything up to about 9kg or 1000mm by 700mm) is to not use string or chain or wire or cord, but rather the twin-pin hanging system.
Refer to our website for helpful 'how-to' videos; for items bigger and heavier, then seek out the right hardware for the specific weight.
Or simply seek out a professional. www.picturehanging.co.nz