13 Picture Hanging Hacks for Perfect Walls

Hanging stuff on your walls can be tedious frustrating, especially if it ends up crooked! These handy hacks will help you get it right the first time.

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picture hanging
Family Handyman

Lickety-Split Wall Decor

Here’s how to hang pictures quickly and easily. Lick your middle knuckle and grab the hanger on the back of the picture with the wet finger. Press your knuckle against the wall when the picture is exactly where you want it. The saliva will leave a light mark for placing a nail. — reader Leann Cormier.

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smartphone level

Use a Smartphone Level

This is probably old news to you smartphone veterans out there, but for you newbies, here’s the tip. Your phone can work like a small level or plumb bob. You can download a level app, or your phone may already have a leveling app built into the operating system.

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hanging pictures

Use Templates and Tape

Cut out paper patterns and arrange them on the wall with low-adhesive masking tape. The temporary 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.

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A Riveting Idea

Here’s a better way to hang pictures and other light items on drywall. Use a hammer to drive the stem of a rivet down and into the wall. The rivet head won’t slide into the wall when you hang the picture. You can buy packages of 1/8-in. rivets at the hardware store for less than $5. — reader Alvin Lewis.

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Pull tab picture frame hook
Family Handyman

Pull Tab Hook

If you’re hanging pictures and run out of those sawtooth hangers, just grab the nearest pop can. Bend the pull tab back and forth until it breaks off. Then screw it to your picture frame. Bend the free end out slightly and hang the picture. — reader Carrie Tegeler

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The Family Handyman

Pinpoint a Solution

Here’s a nifty way to mark nail hole positions on walls when you’re hanging that new picture. Glue two pushpins top to top with a cyanoacrylate glue (such as Super Glue). Find the center of the picture along the upper back edge of the frame and press in one of the pins. Now just hold the picture up, maneuver it to the best spot, and press in to mark for the nail.

This tip works best when you’re hanging pictures with hardware screwed on the back of the frame, but if you’re putting up wire-hung pictures, just measure the distance from the top of the wire to the pushpin hole and move the nail down that distance. Many thanks to reader Richard Wooden for clearly framing this sharp tip.

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Mark Nail or Screw Placement
Photo: Teresa Odland

Toothpaste Marks the Spot

If you’re learning how to hang pictures, you can also place a small dab of toothpaste on the hanger and then press it against the template once it’s on the wall. Remove the frame, and the spot of toothpaste on the template will mark the nail’s placement.

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measure back of picture

Measure Everything

Leave one finger in place and measure from the wire to the top. Use this dimension and the dimension from side to side to position the picture hangers.

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Add Nails or Anchors and Screws

Nailed It

If you’re arranging a gallery wall, it’s easier to start with templates made from craft paper. Once your template arrangement is final and taped on the wall exactly where they will hang, hammer a nail through each template’s marked X. Tear away the paper template and the nail is ready in perfect position to hang each gallery piece.

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keep pictures level
Family Handyman

Keep It Level

A pinch of mounting putty (that sticky stuff used to hang posters) prevents picture tilt without harming walls.

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picture shelves

Hang Shelves Instead

With these shelves to hold your picture frames, you don’t have to mess with positioning hooks. Your photos and artwork will never go crooked, and best of all, you can “redecorate” instantly just by swapping things around. There’s no need to patch holes every time you move a picture.

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Keyhole shelf template
Family Handyman

Keyhole Template

When you’re mounting something on the wall with keyhole slots, lay paper over the slots and make a template by rubbing with a pencil. Then level your template on the wall and you’ll know precisely where to position the screws.

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Family Handyman

Sawtooth Tape Measure Hanger

This one’s less of a picture-hanging hack and more of a hack for using picture-hanging hardware in the workshop. Check out what our reader says: I use my tape measure a lot in the workshop, so I like knowing where it is at all times. Sick of digging through piles of stuff to find it, I screwed a “sawtooth” picture hanger on the edge of my workbench, and that’s where the tape measure lives—always! — reader Ryan Sorensen.