One of the best parts about owning art is showing it off for all to see. If you want to make an impact, it helps to hang your new fine art print well so that people can get a real feel for the piece, maybe even experience the same feelings of connection that compelled you to buy it in the first place.
For this reason, I want to share a couple methods of hanging your work. The number one concern should always be protecting the work as much as possible.
First, I will take you through how to hang a framed print, because I feel that this is one of the safest approaches for the print itself. If you haven't checked out my blog post about how to care for art prints, you can check it out and see why it can be helpful to have your prints framed and protected from dust and other debris.
In a separate blog post, I take you through the steps to hang oversized prints and/or prints without a frame. Whether you can't find a large enough frame to fit your piece, or you just simply prefer the aesthetic of an unframed work of art, that blog post will be helpful to you.
* A Note About Walls and Hardware
Make sure you have the right hardware for the job. You should keep in mind the material of the wall and the weight of the art itself when selecting your hardware. There are a variety of wall hanging hooks and hardware to choose from that support varying weights and will benefit a variety of hanging sites. Most people will be hanging on drywall, so that is what we will discuss throughout this post.
I recommend using picture hooks, not just nails driven into the wall as they often provide more support. If you are hanging on another surface, such as wood or stone, make sure you find hardware that will work well with the wall and the art to create a sturdy hanging situation. If you are hanging your work on brick as you might above a fire place or any other more difficult surface, it might be best to get professional help for installation.
Other than the hardware itself, the procedure for hanging is relatively the same.
Let's get into it!
The FrameI'm assuming that you have already had your piece framed by a trusted craftsman who uses high quality materials that will keep the print safe and secure. Most framers will include a way to hang your work on the back of the frame, like a hanging wire or saw tooth bracket to insert a nail head or picture hook.
If you haven't framed your piece yet, I have used and personally recommend FrameBridge. They offer a great, affordable, customized product that will meet your archival needs and they include hanging materials in the box when your artwork is returned to you. However you get it done, come back to the next steps when you're ready…
Check the hardware on the back of your frame to make sure it is stable. You can hold the piece by the hanging wire and lift up and down to check for loose or creaking parts. (Maybe think about doing this test over something soft like a blanket or bed.) Fix these issues if necessary before moving on so you don't have any problems down the road.
Choosing a LocationObviously, you may hang your piece wherever you want (it is yours), but in order to protect the piece indefinitely, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Keep out of direct sunlight to protect from fading.
- Hang in an area that does not have extreme fluctuations in temperature or humidity to prevent paper warping.
- If your piece will be in a high traffic area, make sure it won't get bumped or tapped.
ToolsWith that being said, these are the tools you will need to hang your framed art like a pro.
- Measuring Tape
- Picture Hooks and/or Nails
- Level (Optional)
Placing Your Frame Perfectly
Clear away everything in front of the wall you will be hanging on, including furniture, plants, lamps etc. You want to be able to get right up to the wall and work accurately.
The following information will be helpful to place your artwork in the perfect place. Keep in mind however, the design of the room, the size of the piece and the other visual wall elements around the work might need to be taken into consideration when hanging to keep the space balanced and visually appealing.
Typically when art is hung by designers or in museums and galleries, the center of the piece will be placed at an average eye level of around 60 inches. This allows for the average height person to see the work right in front of their face when they walk up to it, without straining to enjoy the piece.
You may follow this rule to hang your prints, as this is probably the easiest way to go. However, if you are the only one who will be enjoying the piece in your home then consider using your own eye level height. If you want to get specific to you and the other people living in your home you can go the extra mile and use the relative eye level of all who will see it in the space instead to meet your custom requirements. Whatever works for you.
Measure the height of the framed art and divide by 2, this will give you the midpoint of your artwork. If your artwork is 24 inches tall, your midpoint will be 12 inches.
- Take your eye level measurement, and using your measuring tape and pencil, make a mark on the wall where you want your art to live. This represents the dead center of the art piece when it is hung.
Add the numbers from step 1 and step 2. 12 + 60 = 72 inches.
- Now pick up the frame by the middle of the hanging wire so you cause the wire to be tense (as it will be when put on the wall). Measure the distance from the top of the frame to highest point of the hanging wire. Let's say it's 4 inches.
*If your frame has a bracket instead of a wire, measure from the bracket (where the nail will rest inside of) and the top of the frame. Typically the bracket will be located on the top of the frame itself, so your measurement may actually be 0.
Subtract the measurement from step 4 from your step 3 measurement. 72 - 4 = 68 inches. This is the height of your final mark.
So if on the wall you made a mark for 60 inches, add 8 more inches and make a final mark for where you will be putting your nail. This measurement takes into account the wire length and will make sure that the middle of your piece is located on the original dot that you made for the perfect height.
(Thanks to Red Dot Blog for the equation inspiration.)
- p = the height of the picture
- i = your ideal eye level height
- w = the distance between the top of the frame and the highest point of the picture wire
- h = the height of your final mark (where you put your nail)
These steps will ensure a professional look for your art. Once you learn where the appealing eye level for hanging your art is, you won't have to go all the way through the measuring process again.
As stated before, depending on the kind of material the wall is made of and the weight of the frame itself will determine what kind of hardware you will need for hanging. For small and/or light pieces, a simple picture hook or nail will do. For heavier pieces, you may need a drywall anchor or long screws to increase the support.
Drive the nail or picture hook into the final pencil mark with your hammer from a downward angle to ensure the wall bears the majority of the weight. If you want to be extra cautious about chipping the paint or plaster from the wall, you can stick a piece of masking tape over the spot before you hammer in the hardware.
Next, carefully hang the piece up using the wire support or bracket on the back.
You can make sure the piece is precisely straight by using a level, or if you want to go with your gut you can step back to see how the piece is hanging and adjust it accordingly.
Congratulations, you did it! Now sit back and enjoy your new print!
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below. Happy hanging!