A simple, low-tech solution for hanging art

Remember all that art we were hanging last week?

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The only thing that didn’t make us absolutely bat-caca crazy while we were trying every layout variation we could think of was this:

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This might look like nothing–and maybe everyone already knows about this–but it was new to me. As my picture-hanging expertise means we have walls that look like this–

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–I was pretty excited when it was time to get the art onto the walls and Cane whipped up this tool in about two minutes flat.

Here’s what it is:

  • A small piece of 1×2 board
  • A nail just barely nailed through the board

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Here’s what you do with it:

1. Hold up the tool with the nail end hanging down, and hang your art on the end of the nail with the head, with the nail head facing the back of the art.

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2. Hold the art up to the wall until you are sure of where you want it.

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3. Lightly press against the board, so that the sharp end of the nail goes into the wall just a bit.

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If the size/weight of the painting makes this difficult and you have a partner, that person can lift the painting off the nail before you press into the wall. You can also tap the nail with a hammer if you want to make a stronger mark in the wall.

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4. Hold your picture hook up to the wall, placing the bottom of the hook against the hole left by the nail.

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5. Nail the hook in and hang your picture. That’s it!

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I’ve seen all kinds of posts about how to figure out where to nail hooks for hanging art. Most involve measuring and paper templates and more work than we’d ever want to do–especially for something with as many moving parts as a gallery wall.

I thought Cane’s tool and method was genius. Cane told me he learned this trick back in his undergrad days, when he was hanging work for his senior exhibit. Said the guy who ran the college art gallery used this method to hang all the gallery exhibitions. If it’s good enough for an art gallery, it’s good enough for us!

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I don’t know if our method would work for everyone. It might have worked because all of our pieces are fairly large. You might want more exact measurements if you’ve got smaller pieces, a more complicated layout, or if you’re wanting a super-uniform look. But this is what worked for us:

As I said earlier, we began by laying out all the pieces on the floor. (Unfortunately, I have no pictures of this process.)

Then, we measured the wall. We determined how far from each edge we wanted the outside pieces of art to hang–I think ours are 10″ from the end of the wall–then measured to determine the total distance across the wall the art would need. We then put the pieces of art the same distance apart on the floor to make sure the space between the paintings would be the right amount.

For hanging, we started with our middle row, and we hung the outside pieces. We eyeballed the first one, then after it was hung, we measured how far up from the floor it was. We made sure the second one was level with the first one by making sure the top of the second painting would be the same distance from the floor as the top of the first one.

We eye-balled the third painting, making sure it was roughly the same distance between the first two and at the same height.

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The angle of this shot makes it look a little off, but the distance from painting to wall is the same on each side.

From there, we did no more measuring. One of us would hold the picture up to the wall until the other one said it looked right. Then we’d push the hanging tool into the wall to mark where the hook needed to be, and nail the hook in.

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It was really easy.

The only thing I really want to know is why Cane never shared this with me before. If he had, I know we’d have a lot fewer holes in our walls! Until now, I have been the queen of nailing it and hoping it’s right–and then trying again and again until it is.

If you want to get a little more precise about how high to hang your art, I recommend this post from Apartment Therapy. Their method does require measuring, but it’s the simplest approach I’ve seen if you want to hang all of your art at the same height.

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We think this is a pretty green way to hang pictures, so we’re sharing this week at Your Green Resource. We particularly like link party hosts Sorta Crunchy and Live Renewed.

How about you?

Have any great tips for hanging art? Please share!