Here are a few tips on hanging a picture securely so it doesn’t fall, pinpointing the nail locations so the picture hangs exactly where you want it, and hanging it level on the wall.
When hanging framed pictures with wire on the back it is good practice to use two hooks, spaced on the wall approximately 1/3 in from each side of the photograph’s sides. Two hooks will keep a framed picture straighter on the wall over time and will also add additional security by distributing the weight of the picture on two hanging points instead of just one.
While the best strength for hanging artwork is to drive a nail into a wall stud the reality is that studs are typically spaced 16 inches on center and are only 1½ inches thick, so the chance that a stud will be in the same place where you want to hang your picture is remote. One solution to this problem is to use picture hooks.
The use of picture-hanging hooks, which comes with their own matched diameter nail, is designed to drive the nail into the wall at a steep angle, at least 45 degrees, which provides much greater holding power then tapping a nail straight into the wall. These come in a wide variety of sizes and are surprisingly strong — if properly installed. Some heavier hook sizes have two and three nails per hook. These extra nails provide additional holding power.
Picture hooks are rated according to the number of pounds they will theoretically support. These ratings are for the hook itself, under ideal conditions. The holding power of the hook can be significantly reduced by poor installation technique and/or the material and condition of the wall it is attached to. Therefore it is best to apply these ratings very conservatively when selecting the proper size hook to use -- three to four times the weight of the picture is a practical rule of thumb. When in doubt as to what size hook to use, select the heavier hook.
Generally screws provide more holding power than nails, so they’re better for hanging large, heavy pictures. When hanging a picture between studs, use a hollow-wall anchor, such as a toggle bolt, molly bolt, or spiral anchor.
Hold the picture against the wall at the desired height, then make a small pencil mark on the wall in the center of the picture that marks the top of where the picture will go. You don’t have to draw all the way across the top of the picture — just mark the center. Take down the picture and measure from the center mark half the distance to both edges of the picture, so you will end up with two marks equal distance from the center; one on the right of the center mark and one on the left. This will give you two marks approximately 1/3 from the left edge and 1/3 from the right edge of the picture.
Next hook a measuring tape onto the hanging wire attached to the back of the frame. Pull the tape measure up so that the wire is tight and then measure the distance to the top edge of the frame. Use this measurement to measure down from the two pencil marks on the wall that same distance and mark the two spots. You can use a level to make sure your marks are level on the wall. Align the picture hooks making sure the hook — not the nail — is level with the spot you marked and install your hooks.
The rubber bumpers on the bottom corners of the picture provide a little traction which help hold the picture straight and level, help keep the wall from getting marked up and creates an airspace behind the picture, which prevents dust and dirt from collecting and creating “shadows” on the wall.