do it yourself

How to hang art

Hello! How’s your weekend going? Not as wet in our part of the metro anymore, but still with the occasional drizzle and sweater-weather feel.

Today I’ll be talking about how to hang artwork.

I know right, such a mundane thing to even blog about. But hear me out.

While you can easily go the 3M-mounting-tape-type picture hook—just pick the spot to hang art from, stick the hook to the wall, and you’re done—there’s actually a more scientific way of approaching the task.

I first learned this method through this entry from Apartment Therapy. It says that artwork should be hung 57″ on center. It basically means that the center of the artwork should be 57″ off the floor, which, as Maxwell Ryan says, is supposed to be the average eye level. He also says that this is the average height used in many art galleries and museums.

When I tried it on my own, I realized that 57″ on center might be too low for me—and that’s saying a lot, considering I’m only 5’2″. Though I did like the idea that hanging art by using a uniform height throughout the house will give your home art a more consistent and harmonious feel—whenever you enter a different room, you won’t have to crane your neck or adjust your sight line just to look at art, since it’s always hung at the same height.

The point is, and if I may quote from Maxwell Ryan directly:

In addition to being a pleasing height, the 57″ on center…means that your artwork is going to hang in closer proximity to the other elements of your home, such as furniture, rugs, lighting, etc and will therefore “talk” to everything better and have a closer relationship, which is GOOD.

In addition, I have discovered is that if you stick to this standard, you create a harmony among ALL the pictures in your home, as they will all share a midline as you look around your home, no matter what outside dimensions may be. This creates harmony and is also VERY GOOD.

As I always say, it is YOUR home, and if you’re not comfortable with this height, you have the freedom to adjust it as you please. As for me, a comfortable center point for my sight line was 60″ off the floor—just 3″ higher than the recommended height. Most of the artwork I hang here at home now use this standard.

Now for the step by step. {Pardon my outfit—I didn’t think of dressing up for my tutorial “photo shoot”, but know that this is just one of THOSE days when I didn’t think of what I would look. On all other days, I’m really dressed to the nines.

Like, ball gown and diamonds and all.}

P1020920
My chosen spot to hang art from. Notice this was shot before I redecorated our bathroom.

So anyway. This is the wall I was thinking of hanging art from. And the artwork in question is that little watercolor and ink art on the floor that I commissioned my friend Paula Pangan to make for my and hubby’s fifth wedding anniversary.

This wall is made of concrete, and the frame is not as light as those regular photo frames you buy from bookstores. And since I have bad experience with mounting-tape-type picture hooks—they almost always lose stickiness at some point and many frames I’ve hung this way always fall and break—I went for those nail-in picture hooks, and made sure the one I used was appropriate to the weight of my artwork.

Here are the tools I used for this quick project.
Here are the tools I used for this quick project: hammer, pencil, hardwall hooks with weight limit of up to 3 kilos, and tape measure.
Hello, guess where I went to school?
Hello, guess where I went to college?

First thing I did was to measure the height from the floor that was to be the center of my artwork on the wall. As I mentioned earlier, I found 57″ too low for my taste, so I adjusted and went with 60″ off the floor. I marked this on the wall.

P1020935

I also measured the center of my wall, so that the artwork would be dead-center. I made the mistake of measuring from inside the door trim to the other end of the wall. Instead, I should have measured from the outer edge of the door trim (the one where the actual wall begins) to the other end of the wall, so that visually, the artwork would be centered on the white wall. (But guess who’s procrastinating on correcting this?) I don’t think anyone notices anyway, so. {Except that I pointed this out to you, so.}

The cross-point of my wall’s center (which was 15.75″) and 60″ height from the floor was to be the center of my artwork on the wall. Let’s call this Point A

P1020937Next, I measured the height of my artwork, which was 16.75″. I divided this by 2—which got me 8.375″ in case you’re not computing—to get the center of my artwork. Let’s call this quotient Point B.

This means that I would align the 8.375″ point of my artwork (Point B) with the Point A mark I had made on the wall.

P1020938I then pulled the wire of my artwork to full tension, to get an idea how far the wire would hang, and measured the distance between the top of my artwork to the wire at full tension/fully stretched (let’s call this Distance C), which got me 1.35″. Knowing this will help me mark on the wall where I need to hammer in my nail or drill my screw.

Now here's an additional step if you're using the same hardwall hooks as I did.
Now here’s an additional step if you’re using the same hardwall hooks as I did.

Since I’m using hardwall hooks and not a screw, the spot where I would hammer my nails in would be different from the spot where the artwork will hang from. So I also measured the length of hook—from the top of the hook to the point where the wire would rest (Distance D, which was 1.5″)—to help me clearly mark on the wall where the hook should be placed.

Just a recap of all our points and distances:

  • Point A: The cross-point of the wall’s center with the 60″ height from the floor; a.k.a. the artwork’s centerpoint on the wall.
  • Point B: The height of the artwork divided in half; a.k.a. the center of the artwork.
  • Distance C: The distance between the top of the artwork to the wire at full tension.
  • Distance D (optional, if using hooks): The length of my hook—from top of hook to where the wire would rest.

If you are using a nail or screw to hang your art from, simply subtract Distance C from Point B, and use that difference to measure where you should mark on the wall where the nail would go. In my case, it was 8.375″-1.35″, giving me 7.025″.

I marked this on my wall by measuring 7.025″ up from the center point (Point A).

P1020940

But since I had a longer hook, I added Distance D (1.5″) up to the 7.025″ point, to mark where the tip of the hook should rest.

Are you still with me?

So from Point A, I measured upwards using Distance C, and added upwards more with Distance D. Then I marked that point, which tells me where the top of my hook should rest.

Just to give you a visual idea of what all my instructions actually look in practice.
Just to give you a visual idea of what all my instructions actually look in practice.

The point of all this measuring is to make sure that I mark exactly where my hook should go, and that the artwork would rest at comfortable eye level, but still within relatable distance from the nearest piece of furniture, in this case, a chair.

Once I was done making my markings on the wall (see what I did there), of course it made sense to check if this looked good with the actual artwork. And since I had no one to help me with this task (hubby was at work), I just made a selfie using the camera timer.

HAAAIIII.
HAAAIIII.

At this point I hadn’t yet realized that since I measured from the inner door trim, my artwork wasn’t centered. (I’ll admit that I was checking more how I looked, which wasn’t really much to begin with. ANYWAY MOVING ON.)

Next—and my favorite part—hammering my hook onto the wall.

Hubby later on pointed out that I was holding the hammer incorrectly—my hand should've been much lower down the handle, where the leather grip of the hammer was, to gain optimal torque movement. WHATEVER THAT MEANT.
Hubby later on pointed out that I was holding the hammer incorrectly—my hand should’ve been much lower down the handle, where the leather grip of the hammer was, to gain optimal torque movement. WHATEVER THAT MEANT.

Oh and if you are going to be strict about this, it’s always best to use protective gear when using dangerous tools and equipment—even one as harmless as a hammer and nail. I should have been wearing protective eye glasses for this one. If you’re using a drill, best to also cover your nose and mouth to keep debris and dust from entering these, um, orifices.

Here's another view where you see more of hammer and hook and less (none) of me.
Here’s another view where you see more of hammer and hook and less (none) of me. As you can see, my hammer’s pretty old.

The tricky thing with hardwall hooks like this is that if your angle is a bit off, the nails would tilt at a different degree, and eventually break (and ping!—shoots straight into your eye. Hence the protective glasses, yo.). That’s why it’s imperative to maintain consistent force when hammering, and to try maintain the nails’ 90-degree angle to the wall.

Finish off by hammering the center nail that comes with the hooks at an angle, to really anchor it on to the wall.
Finish off by hammering the center nail that comes with the hooks at an angle, to really anchor it on to the wall.

The fifth nail is usually used for non-concrete walls like dry wall (or more commonly referred to locally as gypsum board). But I use it in concrete anyway, just to be sure.

And there you have it!
And there you have it!

In this photo you’ll see that my artwork isn’t centered on the white wall (because I measured from the inner door trim). But the height is just right—it’s at a comfortable visual level, and it still relates closely to the nearest piece of furniture, which is my chair.

So that’s (more or less) how you hang artwork on the wall. How about a collection of artworks, you ask? The process is similar, and I’ll be explaining that in another blog post, coming next week. Would love it if you could check back on the blog for that one 😉

‘Til the next entry!

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