Tips for Hassle-Free Picture Frame Hanging at Home

By Norman Chan

Two ways to find the right place to hammer a nail for hanging your posters and prints.

As anyone who's watched a video shot in my living room may know, one of my obsessions is collecting unique art, concert, and movie poster prints. I just can't resist breaking out the credit card and ordering well-designed poster, especially when it's a limited-edition run. But once the prints are delivered, getting them out of the shipping tube and onto the wall requires a little bit of effort. First, I want to make sure I have a suitable frame for the poster. FrameUSA is my recommendation for really affordable wood frames with plastic sheets in a wide selection of sizes and colors. (For my prized prints, I opt for more expensive wood and glass frames from a local frames outlet.) These typically come with the hanging gear required to mount the frame on a wall--the most hardware you'll need is a hammer and maybe a picture hook. I don't recommend the "Super Hooks" that you may have seen on infomercials.

The toughest part I've found to hanging a batch of frames is finding the right spot for the nail to get the frame at an exact height. In the past, I've tried using a ruler to measure the distance between the top of the frame and the hook, then applying that to the wall using a light pencil mark. It's a time-consuming process that's not always precise. The other method is trial and error, which means potentially leaving a bunch of tiny holes in your wall. But I recently discovered two tricks to marking the spot on the wall for the nail. The first comes from The Industrial Cottage blog, which recommends applying a dab of toothpaste at the end of the picture hook and then positioning the frame where you want it. That leaves a small toothpaste mark where you should hammer in the nail, and it's easily wiped away if you want to try different placements.

The second tip comes from the Scrap Shoppe, which shows you how to create a wall marking tool with a clothespin punctured with a small nail. The clothespin part isn't really necessary--any sturdy piece of wood will work, like a ruler. You then hook the frame onto the nail, holding the clothespin or ruler over the top edge of the frame to position it close to the wall. When you've found a good place for the frame, tap it against the wall and the nail will leave a small mark where you'll want to hammer in a picture hook. It's a little more complicated and more permanent than the toothpaste method, but I've found both to work well.

Perfect frame positioning is one of those things that's easy to get obsessive about, so here's a real pro-tip: if you ever visit someone's home and see a frame out of alignment, don't let them know. It's impossible to unsee and will drive them nuts.