Where and how to hang pictures

Where and how to hang artwork might seem easy, but there's a lot to consider to ensure it's placed and hung correctly. So here's eFrame's ultimate frame-hanging guide.

Framing your art is a big investment, so it pays to think about where you will hang your piece once it’s delivered.

Typically, people rush into designing their perfect frame but don’t consider whether the weight, size and proportions are suitable for the wall on which it will be hung.

Unfortunately, buying and hanging picture frames for your pictures has traditionally been laborious and expensive.

Thankfully, we fixed all this with our online framing tool (which allows you to customise your perfect made-to-measure frame, in wood or metal, in seconds).

Note: you don’t have to worry about being a framing expert. We designed our website to help you choose and customise the best frame for your picture in no time.

This guide will provide an overview of all the crucial factors to consider for choosing, placing and hanging your frames.

Framing your pictures with eFrame – here’s how it works:

We’ve made getting your art, photos, posters, and prints framed a doddle. Here’s how our process works:

  1. Find the best frame for your picture by browsing our range of picture frames or bespoke frames (you can also upload a digital photo for us to print and frame)
  2. Buy your new frame online without visiting your local framer, and escape the hidden extras they try to sell you. You can pay for your frames securely with your card or Apple Pay.
  3. We’ll then ship your frames in a few days for you to put your picture in and hang

Why does planning where to hang my frame before buying matter?

In the beginning, the cost of framing your pictures might be a worry. You’ve probably heard horror stories of people paying over the odds for frames from their local shops. However, framing doesn’t need to be expensive, so how much should you expect to pay?

Let’s face it; custom framing isn’t as cheap as buying an off-the-shelf frame from certain Swedish furniture chains, and it never will be.

But for a beautifully made, custom-size frame made in the U.K. by craftspeople, you’d be surprised at how affordable it is.

Framing costs can vary significantly, however, and it’s dependent on numerous factors, such as:

  • The type of frame you choose, e.g. wood or metal
  • The quality of frame you choose, e.g. budget vs premium
  • How big the frame is
  • How many frames you need
  • Any extras you purchase, e.g. mounts, glass etc.

For illustration, a straightforward black wooden A4 frame will be less expensive than a premium custom-made frame in aluminium.

Why do some frames cost more?

Each frame is made to order using raw materials supplied from abroad; this requires more time, labour, and materials (the larger the frame gets).

For a more in-depth explanation of framing costs, along with pricing examples and averages, check out our picture framing costs guide and our money-saving tips guide.

Considering where you want to hang your frame before ordering could save you money and post-purchase regret. Not doing so could mean you’re left with a frame that doesn’t fit the space, either physically or aesthetically.

Choosing the right picture frame for your space

The right frame for your space should complement your room, furniture and artwork. It’s all about balance, and by relying on your instinct to tell you what looks and feels right, you can create a harmonious way to show off your artwork.

Choose frames and artwork based on room and wall proportions

Utilising the proportions of your room will help your artwork integrate seamlessly. The first step is to assess your room and its furniture to give you an idea of the kind of frame(s) and sizes that might suit your space.

If your room is fairly minimal, follow that through with a single frame or diptych. If you have a “positive” space (one that’s filled with objects, materials and ‘things’), try hanging lots of frames together to keep it cohesive.

Pictures for spacious rooms

Large rooms and empty wall space call for large frames. They can help spaces feel more homely and add personality. Either go for one big statement piece frame or create a gallery wall. If you want to fill up space in a room with high ceilings, try hanging your pictures in portrait rather than landscape.

We have an amazing guide to help you buy big and oversize picture frames, here.

Pictures for smaller rooms

Don’t attempt to squeeze too many frames into a small space. One or two small framed pictures will bring character to a reading nook or small study without becoming overwhelming. Multi-photo frames and mounts can be a great way to frame a collection of photos in a small space without crowding your walls.

Match your artwork mood to your home

Frame style is largely irrelevant in terms of hanging advice. However, we do have online advice for choosing the right frame style and also decicing between wood and aluminium.

Shop wall hanging frames for your pictures online

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Where do you want to hang your art?

Most people know where they plan to hang their framed piece before ordering.

Typically, you’ll fall into one of two camps:

  • Hanging a frame on a blank wall
  • Re-framing or replacing art that’s already hung up in the same or similar place

Hanging a frame on a blank wall

It’s not uncommon for people to want to hang frames in a new or different location. However, this will typically take more time than simply keeping your frames in the same location and reusing the existing wall fixings.

Re-framing or replacing art that’s already hung up in the same place

If you’re looking to refresh a wall where a framed piece is already hanging, the process will likely be more straightforward than placing something in a brand-new location. Swapping out a frame and hanging the new one in the same spot is quite simply a matter of taking the old one off and putting the new one on. Although you must ensure that the wall fixings can take the weight of your new framed piece.

Other things to consider when choosing a location

When choosing where to hang your frame, there are several other factors to consider:

  • Safety: An important consideration is safety. For more on choosing a suitable location based on the glazing choice, click here.
  • Lighting: The lighting in the room should also be considered when choosing where to hang your frame. If the frame will be displayed in a location with strong natural light, such as near a window, it may be more suitable to use UV protective glazing to protect the artwork from fading or discoloration. On the other hand, if the frame will be displayed in a location with low levels of light, it may be more suitable to use a glazing material with a higher level of clarity to allow for maximum visibility of the artwork. For more on choosing a glazing appropriate for art in areas of high sun or UV light, click here.

What size and shape of framed art should I buy?

The size of your frame is largely dictated by the size of your art.

That said, you can make the overall frame size substantially larger than your art by selecting a mount.

A mount is the card insert, sometimes referred to as a mat, that sits around your picture but within the wooden or metal frame. By increasing the size of your mount borders, you can create an overall larger frame, which is often useful for filling big, blank walls.

You can even change the overall shape of your frame using uneven mount borders.

You can adjust the mount borders to create frames of different sizes in our online studio, here.

By using a mount them, you can create almost any size and shape frame, irrespective of your art’s size and aspect ratio. Armed with this, you can now look at what size and shape frame might suit your room best. Here are five essential rules for designing a frame that will look great on any wall.

  • Repeat shapes to create a display that’s pleasing to the eye. Repeating shapes will unite separate pieces of furniture and create a cohesive look and feel. For example, if you have a rectangular rug on your floor, echo that shape with landscape or portrait framed art rather than square.
  • Rooms with particularly tall walls and high ceilings call for bigger frames, ensuring there isn’t too much white space between your artwork and the ceiling. For multiple picture frames, try spreading them across your wall with the lowest image at eye level, drawing attention across your space.
  • Make sure there’s room for negative space. What’s negative space? It’s a design principle used to keep your room from looking cluttered. Incorporating negative space will help draw the eye into your framed piece too. The golden ratio suggests filling about 60 percent of your wall space with framed art, leaving 40 percent of the wall around your frame. This ratio of 1.618 will leave your display looking complete but not overbearing.
  • Ensure that the scale of your framed piece is sized relative to the furniture in your room. For example, if you hang your frame above a console table or headboard, ensure that the frame doesn’t protrude beyond the ends. A general rule of thumb is to size framed artwork no bigger than half to two-thirds the width of the furniture below it. For example, a 210cm sideboard would pair well with a 140cm frame.

How high should I hang my frame

Once you’ve established what size, shape and style your frame(s) should ideally be, you’ll need to look more closely at exactly how high to hang them.

Single frames on an empty wall

If you’re hanging your frame on a blank wall, that is to say, there is no furniture underneath; you should hang your frames at eye level. This will make your art the focal point and look balanced on your wall. Obviously, depending on the height of your ceiling, you may want to move the frames up and down slightly, but generally speaking, the vertical centre of your framed art should hang between 57″ (144cm) and 60″ (152cm) from the floor. If the art is hanging in a kid’s room, you could lower the positioning slightly for their enjoyment.

Single frames above furniture

If you’re hanging a single piece of framed art above furniture, then the frame should be positioned between 4″ (17cm) to 12″ (25cm) above the furniture.

How high should I hang a gallery wall?

Finding the right height to hang a series of frames or a gallery wall is a more involved process, but there are some simple rules to make it easier.

Gallery walls on an empty wall

Our best advice is to treat the arrangement of frames like one entity and position the centre at roughly eye level. Much like above (for single frames), the vertical centre of your gallery wall should hang between 57″ (144cm) and 60″ (152cm) from the floor.

If you’re going for a more “organic” look and your gallery wall might evolve, pick a centre spot and build out.

Gallery walls above furniture

Galleries walls hung over a piece of furniture, like a sofa, should hang with a gap between 7″ (17cm) and 10″ (25cm) between the lowest frame and the furniture.

Other things to consider when deciding how high to hang your art

There is no “one height fits all” rule, so unconventional hanging spots might benefit from a slight deviation from our recommendations above.

If you’re hanging several artworks up a staircase, ensure the frames are all hung at eye level parallel to the staircase. Measure an eye-level height every few steps to create a diagonal line showing where to place your frames.

For spaces where individuals will most likely be sitting (e.g. dining rooms, offices and living rooms), you might want to hang your pictures slightly lower to bring them into focus more of the time.

How to hang your new frame

Okay, you’ve found a spot for your artwork and the perfect frame to showcase it; it’s time to hang your picture. The process might seem daunting if you don’t have much experience, but we’ll break it down and make it as simple as possible. Remember, you can always ask a friend or family member to help!

Which frame hardware should I use (the fixings physically attached to your frame)?

Most picture frames and photo frames are supplied with hanging fixings, either preattached or supplied loose.

For example, our own wall hanging picture frames are supplied with zinc-coated press fix hardware or D rings and polycord. We alternate between the two depending on a few factors, such as weight, size and depth.

Other framing companies or high street stores might supply frames with something different, such as:

  • Sawtooth hangers
  • Clip over hangers
  • Security fixings
  • Mirror plates
  • Command strips

Upon request, we can supply the above.

You can read all about attaching your hanging fixings in our separate how-to guide, here

Should I use nails, screws or hooks to hang my frame?

Reliable and sturdy picture hangers are needed to hang your frame safely. The right hanger will be suitable for both the frame’s weight and the wall type (plaster, brick, etc.).

We’ll start with identifying your wall type. The simplest way to determine whether you have a plaster or brick wall is to tap it with your knuckles. A plasterboard, studded, or cavity wall will produce a hollow sound. Solid brick, block or dot-and-dab walls will sound solid.

Stud walls aren’t as sturdy as their solid counterparts. As such, extra care must be taken to ensure the right fixing is chosen. The options you have are:

  • Spring toggle fixings
  • Hollow wall achor
  • Self drive plug
  • Picture hooks

Each of the above should be strong enough to take up to 20kg in weight, more than enough to hang big frames, but check the weight rating label before buying.

Rawl-type plugs are your best choice for hanging frames on solid brick walls. You shouldn’t have any issues with hanging heavy frames on brick walls, but again, it pays to check the weight limit of the fixing type you decide on.

You’ll need to be wary of water pipes, electrical wiring and stud work. We advise using a detector before choosing the location you want to hang. For these reasons, there’s a risk that hanging your frames in a new location can be more complex and might require more time and effort than a standard, simple swap.

Heavy frames require heavy-duty fittings and fixtures. They can also benefit from 2 or more wall fixtures for added safety.

Picture hooks for your walls

Picture frame hooks are the most common way to hang a picture on a wall and have proved a popular method. The benefit of this technique is the simplicity and cost-effectiveness; all you need is a hook, hammer and nail; however, the disadvantage of this method is that it is not appropriate for all wall types (especially not plaster) and will need to be hammered into a stud for heavier artwork.

Other wall fixings

Plate fixings are slightly more secure than picture hooks, as the frame is essentially attached to the wall rather than hanging on an attachment point. This means you don’t have to worry about the frame getting bumped into and knocked off; however, this method requires screws attaching the plate to the frame and wall, meaning you will leave a larger hole than the frame hooks. Screws also may require anchors, depending on the wall type.

Hanging your picture

To work out where to put your nails, hold your frame to the wall around where you think it should be. Gently mark the top two corners of the frame on the wall with a pencil or masking tape, then mark the centre of these two points.

Take your frame and pull up the hanging cord to make it taut. Measure the distance between the centre of the cord or wire and the top of the frame. This measurement tells you how far down from the marking on the wall you should place your wall hangers and mark the spot. Doing it this way, when you hang your frame, the artwork will be in the desired spot.

Putting the nails in the wall

Gently hammer or screw your picture frame fixings into the wall after you have marked the location of your wall fixings.

If your frame is particularly wide or heavy, you might want to hammer in two fixings spread evenly about 2 to 3″ apart from the centre.

If you don’t want to leave holes in your wall, command strips and other non-permanent fixtures can be a useful alternative. It’s worth noting that it’s safest to use these fixtures with a lighter frame, and it’s possible to still damage the wall by peeling the top surface off if the removal instructions are not followed.

Use a spirit level once the frame has been hung to find its true level.

Leaning: An alternative to hanging frames

Some spaces may not suit frames hanging from the walls, but that doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with pictures you love. Larger frames look great leant against walls, while smaller frames can be a perfect homely touch tucked away on a bookshelf or desk or even supported on an easel or a picture rail.

Your favourite picture doesn’t have to be in a frame arrangement you’ve seen online. Your perfect frame should be positioned wherever works for you.