Hanging Pictures On Drywall: A How To Guide

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Hanging pictures on drywall seems like a simple task: hammer a nail into a wall, hang the picture on the nail, and make sure everything is straight. Unfortunately, there is a little more to the whole procedure than that. When hanging pictures on drywall, you need to consider several factors like the weight of the object, the appropriate fastener to hold the object, where you want to hang the object, and whether or not the drywall will provide enough support by itself. If you want to avoid damaging both your pictures and your walls, read on to learn more about hanging pictures on drywall.

Finding the Right Frame For Hanging Pictures On Drywall

Depending on the color and size, a picture frame can be used to accentuate a particular area of a room, or draw attention to a certain spot on a wall. Here are a few tips for finding a frame for your picture:

  • Match the room: Look for a picture frame that matches the colors and design styles of the room you plan on hanging it in. Picture frames are a great way to enhance the room, and should help tie the room together just like a piece of furniture. The color and material the picture frame is made out of will determine if it matches the room or not.
  • Picture Mats: A picture mat acts as a border for a picture in a frame, and also protects the picture. Try using a picture mat that enhances both the picture and frame. A neutral colored mat won't draw attention away from the picture, while certain colors can be used to enhance the picture by either matching or contrasting with the colors in the picture.
  • Find the right size: Find a picture frame that is appropriate for both the size of your picture and the available wall space. If you plan on using a picture mat, select a frame that allows for extra space around the picture so the mat can be seen.
  • Find the right weight: Lightweight picture frames can be hung almost anywhere on drywall, while heavier frames require an area on your drywall where a wooden framing stud can be found. Heavier frames also require stronger wall fasteners, while light frames can be hung with standard picture hangers.

Where To Place Frames When Hanging Pictures On Drywall

Now that you've found the perfect frame for your picture, it's time to figure out where to hang it. Determine whether you want the picture to accentuate a room, or if you want it to be a focal point. A lone picture centered on a contrasting wall will most certainly catch people's attention. In most cases, a picture should be hung somewhere at eye level, typically 60 inches from the floor with the center of the picture used as your reference point. If you plan on hanging multiple pictures grouped together on a wall, choose your favorite picture to act as a centerpiece. Lightly mark areas on your drywall with a pencil or chalk to help you determine the best spot for your picture.

Lightweight Wall Fasteners

The most common fastener used to hang a picture on drywall is a picture hanger. These small hangers are placed flat against your drywall, and require a nail to be driven through their upper portion to fasten them to your drywall. The lower portion of the picture hanger consists of a small hook, suitable for light objects to be hung like pictures in lightweight frames. Push pins and plastic hooks with adhesives do not require any hammering or drilling, and are also suitable for lightweight objects.

Heavyweight Wall Fasteners

Larger pictures with heavier frames require a little more attention and care when being hung on drywall. If placed in an inappropriate location, the weight of the picture can pull the anchors out of the drywall damaging both the wall and the picture. The best location to hang heavier objects on drywall is in front of a wooden framing stud. Use a stud finder to locate the wooden framing studs behind your drywall. These devices typically use a magnet to detect the nails or screws used to hold framing studs during wall construction. A wall stud provides adequate support for heavier objects that require fasteners that are nailed or drilled into your drywall.

Hollow Wall Fasteners

Some wall fasteners are available that are made specifically for hollow walls like drywall. Molly and toggle bolts are designed with wings that expand behind drywall after they have been inserted through the wall. Toggle anchors also have collapsible wings that expand behind your drywall as you tighten the screw holding it in place. Expandable, metal anchors are great hollow wall fasteners for heavier picture frames. When purchasing these types of fasteners, be sure to read the packaging labels to find fasteners designed to handle the appropriate weight needed to hang your picture. Some fasteners are capable of holding heavier objects depending on the grade selected.

Hanging pictures on drywall requires a little more thought than simply hammering a nail into your wall. Just be aware of the weight of the picture, and make sure you have the right fasteners to keep it secured, and prevent the picture from damaging your wall. 

Last Updated: March 14, 2013
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About Matthew Cenzon Matthew Cenzon has been writing for numerous publications since 2003, covering topics ranging from health and nutrition to the real estate industry. He is one of the contributing writers for IdealHomeGarden.com, and is a college graduate of the University of California, Riverside, with degrees in English and Asian literature. Matthew’s interest in interior design and home improvement stem from his background working in the residential real estate appraisal business for over five years, where he witnessed many of the Do's and Don'ts of home decor.

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