Whether you’re drawing a large gallery wall or hanging a single affordable piece of art, it’s a relatively easy task that the average homeowner can take on on their own. There are no power tools needed – usually just a hammer, nail, and level.

But there are some things you need to know before hammering anything into drywall, plaster, or even brick – like what type of material to use, how to choose the right height, and how to find a wall stud. Advanced planning is worth it: it will prevent you from making unnecessary holes in the wall, a mistake that can cost you time and money.

1. Take into account the wall surface

  • Drywall: If the wall you are working with is made of drywall, then you are in luck – it is the easiest material to use, because it is an easy to penetrate material. Just be sure to locate a wall stud, as hanging directly over drywall will not provide a secure anchor. If a strong stud is not available, it is important to use a drywall anchor to hang pictures.
  • Plaster: These walls (often found in older homes) are a bit trickier, as they tend to crumble. Approach the process the same way you would when working with drywall: look for a wall stud for the most secure anchor. Just note that when hanging pictures on a plaster wall it is always a good idea to pre-drill your hole. To prevent chipping, place a piece of duct tape on the wall before drilling.
  • Brick: If your walls are brick, you will need to use a wall anchor. And use a masonry bit on your drill to drill into mortar, not actual brick.

    2. Choose your suspension material

    If you’ve ever looked at the back of a photo frame, you know that there are several material options, including D-rings, sawtooth hangers, and wire. Some frames even come with more than one option. So which one should you choose? The short answer: it depends on which method you’re most comfortable with. Here, a few options:

    • How to hang a picture with a nail: A single nail can probably do the trick and is the easiest method if the frame comes with a hook or sawtooth hook, says Rachel Rothman, chief technologist and director of engineering at the Good Housekeeping Institute . This method also leaves the least damage in its wake, as simple nail holes can be as small as pin points. Driving the nail into a wall stud will provide the most support, especially for anything over about five pounds. Just make sure you drive the nail in at a degree angle, Rothman says.
    • How to hang a picture with thread: For added stability, consider hanging your picture with a wire suspended between two opposing D-rings, Rothman explains. The process is the same as when you hang a picture with nails, just twice.
    • And how to hang a picture without nails: If you’re hesitant about making holes in your walls, hooks and tapes are great options for lighter frames. (Check the manufacturer’s specifications, but these options typically go over about 15 pounds, Rothman says.) These products are also great for plaster and brick surfaces, as these wall materials are more prone to chipping and cracking.

      3. Measure the ideal height

      To measure the right height like a pro, memorize this fact: Eye level is approximately 57 to 60 inches from the ground, says Rothman. Since the middle of the array should be at this height, you’ll need to do a bit of math to get it right. Our pro GHI tip: take the frame height, halve it, subtract the distance between the top of the frame and the hardware, then add 60.

      4. make sure it is perfectly level

      Once you have confirmed how high you will hang your picture, use a pencil to mark the wall. If you use one yarn or more than one hook, use a level to make sure the marks are at the same height, says Rothman. If the room is sloping, do not hesitate to cheat a little to get there look straight ahead.

      5. Finally, hang your photo

      Now you can finally put your decor on the wall. Once attached to the wall, use a level once more, adjusting as necessary, to make sure everything is perfect.

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