Hang pictures straight and level
The first challenge in hanging a picture
is deciding exactly where you
want it. It's not so hard with just
one picture. You can ask a helper to hold it
up while you stand back and judge the
Most experts recommend hanging a
picture with its center about 60 in. from
the floor, or bottom edge 6 to 8 in. above a
piece of furniture. Use these heights as a
starting point. Then adjust the position of
the picture to your liking, and mark the
top center with the corner of a sticky note.
Use the technique shown in Photos 2 - 6
to complete the job.
A group of
cut out paper
on the wall with
red line from
a laser level
is helpful for
aligning a series
of photos level
with one another
The laser level is ideal because you get a
perfectly straight line without having to
mark up the walls. A standard carpenter's
level will also work.
When you arrive at a grouping that's
pleasing, mark the top center of each pattern
with the corner of a sticky note
(Photo 1). You'll use the bottom corner of
each sticky note as a reference point for
locating the picture hangers.
Now you're ready to position the picture
hangers (Photos 2 - 4). Use two hangers
for each picture for extra support and to help keep the picture from tipping.
Choose picture hangers that are rated to
support the weight of your art. We recommend
professional hangers like the one
shown in Photo 5. They work fine in drywall.
These are available at home centers or
from most picture-framing shops. Plaster may not support
pictures as well as drywall does. To
hang heavier art on plaster walls, use picture
hangers with double or triple nails.
Photos 2 and 3 show how to measure
the space between the hangers and the distance
from the top of the picture frame.
The distance between hangers isn't critical.
Just space your fingers several inches
from the outside edges of the picture
frame. Transfer these measurements to the
wall (Photo 4). An inexpensive level with
inches marked along the edge is a great
picture-hanging tool (Photo 4). Otherwise,
just stick masking tape
to the edge of a level and
transfer measurements to
the tape (Photo 2).
Then line up the bottom of the
hooks with the marks and drive the
picture-hanger nails through
the angled guides on the
hooks (Photo 5).
Before you hang the
picture, stick a pair
of clear rubber
bumpers on the back
lower corners of the
frame to protect the
wall and help keep
the picture level.
You'll find these with
the picture hanging
supplies or in the
Hang heavy mirrors with confidence
Take extra precautions when you’re hanging a heavy mirror. If
the mirror has a hanging wire on the back, remove it and
instead screw D-rings to the frame (Photo 1). (Mirrors
without frames should be hung with special mirror hangers.) Locate
the D-rings an equal distance from the top of the frame, about one-third
of the total height down. Then measure the exact distance
between the centers of the D-rings (Photo 1). The trick is to hook
your tape measure on one edge of a D-ring, and measure to the same
edge of the second D-ring. Record this measurement. Then measure
down to the top of the D-rings (Photo 2).
Photo 3 shows how to transfer the measurements to the wall. But
first you'll have to hold the mirror up to the wall and choose the best
position. Start with the center of the mirror at about 60 in. from the
floor. When you like the position, mark the top center with a sticky
Some picture hangers are rated to support
heavy mirrors, but it's stronger and safer to
install hollow-wall anchors instead. We recommend
the screw-in type anchor shown in Photo 4. It's rated to support 40 lbs. Weigh your
mirror and choose the appropriate type
of anchor. Use toggle-type anchors
for heavier mirrors.
Measure from your reference point to
position the anchors (Photo 3). Make
starter holes with an awl or Phillips
screwdriver. If you hit a stud with the
awl, simply drive a screw. Photo 5
shows how to hang the mirror. If the
top isn't level when you're done, wrap a
few turns of electrical tape around the
D-ring on the low side to raise that side
Align keyhole-slot shelves
Many light-duty shelves have keyholes in the back. The keyholes
slide over protruding screws for support. The trick is to precisely
place the screws so they align with the keyholes.
Photos 1 - 5 shows a foolproof method
that doesn't require any measuring
or math. Photo 2 shows a trick for
transferring the keyhole locations
to the wall. If the mounting screw
locations don't land over studs, use wall
anchors to support the shelf. We're using a slick
toggle-type anchor that holds 60 to 100 lbs. and is
easy to install. This brand is available at
most home centers. Make sure the screw heads supplied with the anchor
fit the keyhole slot before you
install the anchor. Otherwise
go to a smaller size anchor.
Drill holes for the anchors
at each mark and mount the
anchors in the wall. Let the
screws protrude enough for
the keyholes to slide over
them. Test-fit the shelf by
aligning the keyholes with
the screws and sliding it
down. If the shelf won't slide
on or is too loose, remove the
shelf and adjust the screws
until you get a snug fit.
Hang a quilt without damaging it
One good way to display a
quilt is to hang it on a
wall. But don't just tack it
up by the corners or it'll stretch out
of shape. Instead, use this method
for hanging quilts or other decorative
textiles because it distributes
the weight evenly for smooth
hanging and minimal stress to the
fabric. The hand stitching (Photo
1) used in this method doesn't
damage the quilt because it only
goes through the backing, and it's
easy to remove when you no longer
wish to display the quilt.
Measure the top edge of the quilt
and purchase the same lengths of
1-1/2-in.-wide sew-on hook-and-loop
fastener strip and 2-1/2-in.-wide cotton or synthetic webbing.
We found the hook-and-loop strip
at a fabric store and the webbing at
an upholsterer's shop. You'll also
need a length of 1-1/2-in.-wide
pine or poplar, a staple gun and
several 2-1/2-in. wood screws.
Photos 1 - 3 show how to prepare
and hang the quilt. If the quilt
pattern allows, it's best to rotate the
quilt 180 degrees every month or
so. This relieves stress on the fabric
and helps prevent uneven fading.
To be able to rotate the quilt, you'll
have to sew another strip of hook-and-
loop along the opposite edge.
Dealing With Other Types of Walls
It's usually not hard to hang things
on drywall. You can drive nails easily,
and studs are simple to locate.
Other types of walls present unique
challenges. Plaster is harder than
drywall and can crumble. But the
pros we talked to say as long as you
use professional picture hangers like
the ones we show here (these have
sharper nails and built-in angle
guides), and use hangers a little larger
than required, you'll usually be
OK. In brick or stone, you can often
drive a thin nail into the space
between the mortar and the brick or
stone. In brick, stone and concrete, you want to avoid making large
holes because they're virtually
impossible to hide if you move the
picture. A good method for brick,
stone or concrete walls is to drill a
hole that's slightly smaller than the
threaded part of a drywall screw.
Use a masonry bit in a hammer drill
and drill the hole at a slight downward
angle. Then thread the screw
into the hole, leaving about 1/4 in.
sticking out for use as a hanger.
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Video: How to Use a Tape Measure
You can use a tape measure for more things than just measuring. Travis Larson, senior editor at The Family Handyman, will show you how to use a tape measure to save time on your next project.