A Guide for How to Hang Wall Decor

Whether you’re hanging one large piece or a lot of small ones, determining the proper placement of your artwork can sometimes seem daunting. Here’s a guide on how to hang artwork to make the process a little bit easier, and maybe even fun.

Hanging art above a fireplace

Tips and Tricks

  • A fireplace is always the focal point of a room. When hanging art over the fireplace, it’s a good idea to make the art grouping about the same size as the fireplace opening. One large piece or several small pieces that appear as one unit is a great solution.
  • A great way to test an arrangement before putting hammer to nail is by laying everything out on a table or on the floor. Move the pieces around until you have an arrangement that you like. Laying the pieces out on a large piece of kraft paper or wrapping paper is an even better method, as this allows you to trace around each piece and mark the hanging points. Then, tape the paper to the wall and hammer in the nails. Remove the paper, and voila!
  • Choose smaller pieces for narrow walls and larger pieces for big walls.

The middle of a piece of artwork or grouping of artwork should be at eye level

  • As a general rule, hang the artwork so that the center point of the piece or grouping is at approximately eye level; think of groupings as a single unit. For example, you may want to consider hanging art slightly lower in a dining room, since you are sitting down when you are looking at it.

Art hung over a piece of furniture should not be wider than the width of the furniture, a general principle being that the art should be about 75% the width of the furniture.

  • Art hung over a piece of furniture should not be wider than the width of the furniture, a general principle being that the art should be about 75% the width of the furniture.

Scenarios

Spacing between artwork groupings

Spacing for Even Numbers

Tight spacing = 1-2”
Normal spacing = 4-6”

Large Spaces:

A tightly grouped even number of pieces works great to balance out a large space or a high wall. Note that large spaces can handle slightly larger spacing than small spaces.

Small Spaces:

A tightly grouped even number of pieces in a small area, such as a stair landing, is perfect and gives a window effect. Light colors enhance this effect.

Use your hand as a general guide for spacing pieces of artwork

Hanging Pieces Horizontally

Perfect for a hallway or sofa wall, hanging art horizontally allows you to achieve some volume without appearing crowded. For this scenario, an odd number of pieces is more attractive to the eye and is visually balanced; a normal spacing of 4-6” is recommended.

Tip: Use your hand, fingers closed, to determine spacing in this scenario.

How to Hang Wall Art

Symmetrical Placement

Great for pieces that are similar in size, shape, and subject matter, this method allows you to create a grouping that has visual balance and is perfect over large furniture collections or fireplace mantles.

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Asymmetrical Placement

This is a great solution when you have a group of prints that aren’t necessarily the same but share at least one similar element, such as subject matter or color scheme. You can asymmetrically arrange the pieces so that they still achieve a nice ‘organic’ balance.

If you have two larger pieces, try staggering them by hanging one lower than the other, so that top and bottom don’t match.

Grouping larger and smaller pieces helps to create interest and energy. The same is true for vertical and horizontal pieces in the same grouping.

Hanging artwork and shelving on a wall

Multiples and the Vertical Line

When you are grouping four or more pieces, one above the other, you should consider a vertical line, meaning that the art should be visually balanced on both sides of an imaginary vertical line. Too much ‘weight’ on one side or the other will make the group seem awkward and unbalanced. Again in this scenario, it is a good idea to make sure the art is similar either in color scheme, frame style, or subject matter.

Hanging a grouping of asymmetrical artwork on a wall

Wall Types

Woodwork or Solid Wood Paneling

Wood is the ideal surface for hanging almost anything. Hanging hardware in this case is most often a supply of wood screws. With their pointed ends and sharp grooves, wood screws are easy to install with just a screwdriver.

Drywall and Plaster

For surfaces other than wood, an ordinary nail or screw is usually inadequate. Most walls are actually hollow, with relatively soft plaster or drywall covering their sturdy lumber framework. The boards, or studs, behind such a wall provide adequate support for any object that is hung on the wall, but they can be difficult to locate and may not be spaced where you want them. The hangers below, specially designed for hollow walls, readily solve the problem of surfaces too weak to hold a nail or screw. Most hardware stores stock them in various sizes.

Masonry and Brick

For concrete block or brick walls, use lead wall plugs, similar to the ones shown on the following page. You’ll need a power drill with a carbide tipped bit to create a hole for the plug. Tap the plug into place and insert the screw.

Hardware dealers can recommend the correct screw and bit sizes.

Hardware

Recommended for smaller plaques and average-sized picture frames on drywall or plaster.

Wall hook for hanging artwork Picture Hanger Recommended for smaller plaques and average-sized picture frames. The configuration of a picture hanger’s angled nail and metal hook will provide adequate support for most framed pictures. For larger frames, it is often advisable to use a pair of hangers.
Power hook for hanging wall art Power Hook Ballard Designs patented Power Hook is easy to install and can support up to 110 lbs. in 1/2” drywall and 125 lbs. in 5/8” drywall; does not require a stud for hanging. To add a set of 12 Power Hooks to your next order, simply request item #WB022.

 

Wall Anchor

Made of plastic or nylon, wall anchors function as sleeves into which a screw can be tightened. Refer to the product’s packaging instructions for the correct size of pilot hole to drill.
Recommended for drapery rod brackets and other lightweight brackets on drywall or plaster.

Wall anchor for hanging artwork Once you have drilled a hole, tap the anchor in with a hammer until it is flush with the wall. Place your object or bracket on the wall, insert the screw, and tighten. Tightening the screw causes the anchor to expand inside the wall, anchoring your bracket to the wall.

 

Expansion Bolt

If you do not have a drill, you may want to look for an expansion bolt (sometimes called a “molly bolt”), which can be hammered into the wall.
Recommended for mirrors, shelf units, brackets, and other heavy objects on drywall or plaster.

Expansion bolt, used to hang wall art Once the sheathed bolt is in the wall, turn it clockwise with a flat-head screwdriver. When it will not turn any more, turn it counter-clockwise to secure its collar against the inside of the wall. If necessary, the bolt can be removed to put it through the object or bracket you’re hanging. When attaching a two-holed bracket to the wall, you may want to use an expansion bolt for the top hole, but a wood screw will suffice in the lower hole.

 

Toggle Bolt

As with wall anchors, toggle bolt installation begins with drilling a pilot hole and then lightly tapping the toggle bolt into position. Good for heavier jobs, toggle bolts have spring-activated “wings” that fold out once inside the hollow wall.
Recommended for mirrors, shelf units, brackets, and other heavy objects on drywall or plaster.

Toggle bolt for hanging wall art As you tighten the bolt with a screwdriver, the wings expand and are drawn against the wall. Note: Once installed, removing the bolt from the wall will cause the wings to detach and fall behind the wall.

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