How To Hang A Picture

Did you receive a nice poster or painting for a holiday gift, and now you are looking at it and wondering how to hang it? It’s actually quite simple if you have some basic tools. Here’s how you do it:

1. Investigate your picture frame: Check that it has something adequate to hang nails on, and note how many nails you will need. The most common hanging set-ups will either have holes or a wire to hang on nails. With a ruler or measuring tape, measure the width of your frame.

2. Investigate the location: Where should you hang your picture?! The ceilings the limit! ;) Pick a spot that catches your eye but also takes into account the presence of other wall-hangings, the shape of your walls, nearby furniture, etc. You will most likely want your picture to be in a very visible location, but get creative! Location and orientation are key!

3. Pull out your level and a pencil (or a nail): Place the level at the height you will want your frame. Steadily and slowly align the level by watching the level’s bubble. (Note: levels usually have multiple bubbles – hold the level horizontally and watch the bubble that corresponds with the horizontal orientation.) Stop moving when you have the bubble centered. Along the edge of the level, draw a very light line or a few dashes with the pencil where you would like the top of the frame to be. Be careful – DO NOT draw the line very hard or dark. Also, do not draw the line longer than the width of your frame. If you are concerned about marking your walls, use a nail instead of a pencil – lightly indent the wall with the sharp end of the nail so that you can see your markings.

4. Measure your frame: Measure the distance from the nail holes, or the wire (held taut and upright so that you can measure the actual distance that will be  between the wire and the frame top when it is hanging) and the top of the frame. Go back to the wall and measure the same distance (from below the line you have already drawn) and mark another line.

5. Measure your nail holes: If you need two nails, measure the distance between the nail holes on the frame and measure the same distance on the second line you drew, then put a dot at both the beginning and end of the distance. If you only need one nail, just make a dot on the second line you drew.

6. Grab nails and a hammer: First, with your fingers, press a nail into each of the dots you made – so that the nail just makes an imprint. The imprint will help your nail go the right direction when hammered. Now – carefully – hold your nail in place by the stem and lightly tap the head with the hammer. Keep tapping lightly until it will stick in the wall by itself. Try not to crack off any drywall around the hole in the process.  (A small piece of clear tape on the spot where you are hammering will keep the wall from chipping.) Keep holding the stem lightly and aim the hammer at the nail head. Now, hammer it harder (with caution not to hit your finger). When the nail is completely “in” the head should stick out from the wall just enough (about 1/2 inch) to hang the frame on. Repeat for all the nails.

7. When the nails are in, go ahead and hang your picture on them! Then sit back and relish in the splendor of a job well done!


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Chloë Elise is a writer and artist living (and renting) around the world. She is usually the roomie to catch bugs and put them outside, or to fill the house with little plants around every window. She spends most of her time writing, painting, tattooing, studying science, learning languages, building websites, making music, and searching for fossils. Find more info at Sima Tattoo, Yakbrother, or her personal portfolio.

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