Common Tools & Methods For Hanging Art


While we explained how to hang art on virtually any wall in our last tutorial, we didn’t cover what you can hang art with. So that’s what we’ll be doing here. While a hanger and nail is oftentimes the simplest method for hanging art, there are circumstances where different hanging systems will be better suited. For example, are you renting an apartment and would like to avoid putting a number of holes in your walls? Perhaps you live in an older home and don’t want to risk cracks in your plaster walls? Whatever your situation, we’ll be reviewing the pros and cons of the most common art hanging methods in this edition of our Art 101 Series. 

Traditional Hanger and Nail

hammer and nails on a wooden bench

As we pointed out in our tutorial on best practices for any wall surface, chances are high that you’ll be hanging your art on drywall. And when it comes to drywall, all you need is a simple hanger and nail. No need to find a stud in the wall. No need for a drill or even a screwdriver. Simply use a hanger that’s rated for the weight of your framed art, measure, and gently hammer the nail into the wall. It really is that simple. And you can easily find them online, at your local hardware store, and even in the home section of most supermarkets. And at the end of the day, if you wish to cover any of the holes you’ve made, all it takes is a little spackle. So if you’re working with drywall, I recommend going this route when hanging your pictures.

Press-In Hooks

Similar to a traditional hook and nail, press-in hooks also work best with drywall. They only leave a small hole in the wall, and are capable of supporting relatively heavy weight – without needing to find the wall stud. While they don’t require any tools, at times I’ve found them to be tricky to push through drywall. And once you successfully push it through, it can take a bit of time to get it positioned correctly. That said, they do leave a very small hole in the wall, and they’re easy to find and inexpensive at hardware stores or online. So while I prefer a more traditional hook and nail, the press-in hook is certainly a viable alternative.  

Command Strips or Hooks

Command strips aren’t an ideal solution for hanging art, but they do have their place. Suppose you’re renting a home or apartment and don’t want to make a bunch of holes in the wall, command strips are a viable alternative to hook and nail. They’re also easy to find and are relatively inexpensive. There are some caveats to keep in mind, however. Most importantly, they’re less secure. I wouldn’t recommend using command strips with artwork that’s heavy or valuable as there’s a chance it will fail at some point and your framed work will fall to the floor. There’s also some risk that you’ll peel the paint off the wall when you remove the command strip, particularly if you remove it incorrectly. (Conversely, be sure and follow the rules closely when you apply your command strips as that will enhance the adhesive properties significantly.) All to say, if your artwork weighs under 3 pounds and isn’t of significant monetary or sentimental value, command strips can be very useful for those not wanting to put holes in their walls. 

pictures and magazines displayed on a white wall

Hang Art from Picture Moulding

Popular in homes from the mid-1800’s to the mid 1900’s, a picture moulding or rail is a terrific way to hang art in older homes. Picture molding is a thin rail that runs parallel to the ceiling, and it allows you to easily hang artwork without hammering a nail or drilling a hole into an old, delicate wall. There are various systems for hanging art from a picture molding, but most will consist of a hook and wire — the hook rests atop the moulding, while the wire connects to the frame. While not as easy to find as a more traditional hanger and nail, systems for hanging art from picture moulding are readily available at specialty stores and online. So if you happen to have picture rails, they’re a safe and elegant way to hang art in an older home. 

Clips, Etc. 

There are far too many systems for displaying art for us to provide an exhaustive review here, but feel free to get creative. If you have art that isn’t framed, try hanging it from a clip. Do keep in mind that this can damage the paper, so I don’t advise doing this for anything valuable. And as we mentioned in our tutorial on hanging art, feel free to rest your art on a mantle or a bookshelf. If you have an easel, go ahead and place a framed piece of art on it. While this overview is meant to outline the most common systems for hanging art, there are few rules for actually displaying your art. So get your art out there for all to see!

Now that you have your artwork ready and a greater understanding about the many ways to hang your art, give us a visit to help you with any other tips and tricks about printing and framing art.