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How to hang a picture

Nail it like a pro: a step-by-step guide with artist Carole Finn
Artist Carole Finn. (Courtesy Carole Finn)

By Carole Finn

Have you ever puzzled over how to hang a picture?

First, you want to clear an unencumbered area in front of the wall space so it’s easy to work.

But before you begin, let’s make sure you have the right items.


The basic tools you’ll need are a hammer, level, stud finder, measuring tape, pencil, hanging hardware, anchors, nails and screws (suited to picture weight if needed).

Depending on the painting/photo’s size, you may need different hardware.

For hanging lightweight pieces, it’s easiest to use small nails. For medium-weight pieces, you’ll want picture hangers. And when hanging larger art, you’ll need a big nail, a stud-finder or wall-plug anchors, screws that fit them, and a screwdriver. It may also be helpful to use Teflon-coated picture wire, which pairs best with D-rings and makes it easier to snag the hook.

Before you begin, check the back of the piece to see what type of hanging hardware it has. This shouldn’t matter too much, but you want to make sure the nails will fit the size of the hanger.

You should be able to find all the tools you need at any department store, such as Home Depot, Home Hardware, Lee Valley, Canadian Tire or a local shop.

Carole Finn stands next to one of her paintings, hung perfectly at eye level. (Courtesy Carole Finn)


1. Find a stud

It’s always best to anchor the hook or nail in a stud. These can be found on the wall using a stud finder. If you can’t find a stud, use a sturdy anchor to hang the painting.

2. Gather measurements and calculate

No matter the size, you want any framed piece’s mid-point to be 57” from the floor.

First, measure the wall 57” up from the floor to mark the vertical centre of the frame (“A” value). Second: measure the height of your art in the frame, then divide by two for your halfway measurement (“B” value). Add the resulting number to 57”. Third, if using picture wire, measure the distance of the taut wire to the top of the frame (“C” value).

Add A (57”) plus B (half frame) minus C to get the placement for the nail. The middle of the picture should be eye-level when hung.

3. Test out your placement

Trace your frame(s) onto sheet paper. Once cut out, these can be placed on the wall so you can see if you like the composition and height. Once you’re ready, hammer the hanger into the wall and use a lever to ensure it’s straight.

Hanging artwork is a great way to elevate your space and also put your own artwork on display. Now sit back and enjoy the final result.

Carole Finn is an artist and art teacher. Learn more at