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5 Tips for Hanging Art

Posted in How To by Daniel Rolnik on 14th December 2016

You’ve bought some art and got it framed. Now what? You actually have to hang it up on the wall! And you’ve never used tools before. Or you’ve used tools but don’t feel confident with them, and certainly not anywhere near art. Well, here’s a helpful guide for you.
 

Mysterious Sky, £550

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We will assume for all of our examples that you have collected a work of art that’s about normal weight and not too heavy (any large framed artwork will fit in the ‘normal weight’ category). For all these techniques you’ll want a simple tool named a ‘level’ (they even have apps for it on your phone) which will allow you to check if  the work is hanging straight (there’s nothing worse than the mortal sin of hanging your artwork crooked).

 

The Corn Store, £995

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1. Fixing an error

To avoid any mistakes try and make sure you do your measurements and layout properly before hammering nails into the wall. A handy way to plan a hang is to cut out a piece of newspaper to the exact size of the work or works, and make sure the proportion sits well where you envisage it. Also walk around with the artwork, and hold and sit it certain places to make sure you’re happy with the spot you choose.
 

The Wizard of Was, £1455

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Always be armed with something known as ‘spackle’, which you can get from your local hardware store. This is a putty that you can put on your finger and smear into a hole after you’ve taken out a nail or screw. Some people use a putty knife to make it extra smooth, but it’s not completely necessary. You need to spread an even coat of it into the hole and then let it dry. If your walls are super flat with no markings you can use a light sandpaper to smooth down the smear to make the fix completely flush to the wall. Cover it with a small dab of paint (be careful to make sure it’s exactly the same colour) and your wall should be good as new again - so you never need worry about making a blunder again.
 

2. Finding the height

TOOLS NEEDED: Measuring tape, painter’s tape (the blue kind), paper and pencil (or phone).

There is a simple set of steps to finding the desired position for a painting on a wall. If you want to hang salon style, ignore this and just go free form. If you’re on the fence, use this step to establish a baseline.

Measure the height of your painting and divide that number by half. Write that number down. Now, take your tape measure and place it underneath the hanging wire or sawtooth hanger on the back of your artwork. Subtract this number from the number you had previously written down - this will be your KEY number.

Untitled (stretch out), £2250

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Now on the wall, use your tape measure to find a height of 64” (162/163 cm) on the wall. This is the centre point of where your painting will go. If you’re taller or shorter you can adjust this height. Or if you want the piece in the centre of say a cabinet and the ceiling then measure for the center of that and then place a strip of painter’s tape on the wall to mark that level. Make sure you remember if it’s the top of the tape or the bottom of the tape - forgetting to do this is a mistake I make all the time.

Ok from your marker of the center point, measure up from there the amount of your KEY number. This is where you are going to put your nail. You can place another piece of painter’s tape here until you’re ready to use one of the hanging techniques below.

 

3. Drill Technique

TOOLS NEEDED: Electric drill & a screw (about 1” (2.5 cm) or so long, nothing crazy).

The Wait, £1250

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Make a little mark in pencil where you want the screw to go into the wall, and then use your drill to push the screw in almost all the way. You’ll want just the head of the screw to be sticking out. Simple as that! This is my favorite method, but just know it leaves bigger holes in your wall if you decide to move a piece.
 

4. Hammer Technique

TOOLS NEEDED: Hammer, nail or picture hanging nail.

You can use any kind of nail to hang art, from headless nails to fat nails. It just really depends on how much of a hole you want in your wall. I suggest just going to your local frame shop, art supply store, or hardware store to get picture hanging nails since they are designed to leave minimal impact on your wall and keep your art safe during earthquakes. They aren’t that expensive and just look kind of cool.

 

Ambiguous, £700

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Ok, find that tape marker and hold the nail against the wall - using your index finger and thumb to keep it from slipping. You’ll want to angle the nail down a little, like it’s forming a diagonal line rather than hammering it straight in. This will give you some leverage to keep the artwork safe from the nail slipping out of the wall (which can happen). Now lightly tap the hammer against the nail head. If you’re using the picture hangers keep hammering until it won’t go further or if it’s a regular nail, hammer it so that the nail is sticking out about 1/4” (0.6 cm) out from the wall. Now hang your art up.

 

5. Nail-less hanging

Something a lot of museums use is velcro. Don’t be afraid of it! I t’s unbelievably strong! In fact, it’s so strong it may even rip your paint off the walls - so be careful of that. But sometimes it’s the only way to go. Maybe you live in a space where you’re not allowed to put holes in the wall, or you’ve got a surface that is too hard to drill nails into —  this will be a great route to take. Make sure to get the industrial strength velcro from a hardware store - it usually has a picture of something heavy like a fire extinguisher on the front. I’ve found that personally the ones meant for art don’t work well, so don’t be fooled by them, especially if what you’re hanging has a glass frame that can shatter everywhere if it falls on the ground. Now stick the stickers to the back of your artwork and peel off the other sticker and using a level keep your work straight as you press it against the wall. Use more velcro around the edges and corners to feel safer.

Lulu Guiness Gold London, £315

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If the work is unframed you can use clothespins to suspend them from a string of twine or metal across your wall. It can be a cool look - especially if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making everything straight. Just know the pins may damage the paper by leaving little marks, so it’s only recommended if you don’t intend to resell the works at a later time.

 

It's a lot to take in, we know! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with one of our curators for some on hand, real time advice.

 

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About the Author

Daniel Rolnik is a mad scientist. As the world's most adorable art critic he's travelled the globe; discovering artists in all the nooks and crannies of mankind's overlooked towns. In 2014, he opened up his eponymous gallery, which has been kicked out of at least 3 locations because of its provocative, epic, and giant art shows that break boundaries by not adhering to the commonplace rules of society. His most recent endeavor is the Daniel Rolnik Foundation, which has the mission statement of "Earth is our Gallery" and a grassroots approach to causing irreverent chaos in the art world.

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 Twitter: @danielrolnik