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How to hang pictures the right way

hang pictures

Deciding how to hang pictures and art can sometimes lead to such choice paralysis that walls end up bare for much longer than we’d planned. Committing to drilling a hole in your wall can make many people very nervous. They worry about putting it in the wrong place or are confused about how to group pieces together. Not to mention how to frame the piece to make it look its best. I chatted with Angel Denis of Frame Experts to get his insights on how to tackle these issues and hang pictures with confidence.

Height matters

When it comes to choosing the perfect height to hang pictures or artwork Angel recommends keeping the centre of the picture at eye-level. ‘But eye-level isn’t the same for everyone! Some people are much taller than others so It will vary from person to person,’ he says. The only exception is when you’re hanging over a sofa, mantlepiece or headboard. In these situations, Angel recommends keeping a 10cm gap between the top of the mantlepiece or furniture and the bottom of the frame. 

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Family Photos

Family photos are something most people have in abundance but often worry about how to display properly. In some cases, these photos get framed in the brown or black cardboard mount they came in, which really doesn’t do them justice. Think school and graduation photos. The focus tends to be the mount and not the photograph. 

This way of framing may also cause damage to your photos. ‘When photos are not properly mounted they can react to heat and moisture over time which causes them to ripple,’ warns Denis. He recommends removing the photographers mount and properly mounting the photo before framing. ‘I’d recommend a very simple mount, paired with a slim 10mm or 15mm frame. When it comes to framing photographs, less is more,’ he says.

Your choice of glass for photographs is also important. ‘Photos don’t tend to age well because they fade,’ says Denis. Choosing anti-reflective glass instead of ordinary glass will protect your photos from fading.

‘Anti-reflective glass has come a long way in the last 10 years, says Denis. Museum glass for example, offers 70% UV protection so it will stop photos and artworks from fading.’ This glass is also ideal for displaying photos and art because it is only 10% reflective. ‘The reflection is reduced so much that the glass is almost invisible,’ he says. There is also a version that offers 90% UV protection, which is ideal for valuable artworks. Anti-reflective glass is about 30% more expensive than ordinary glass.

hang pictures

How to choose your frame & mount

Your choice of frame, mount and glass should all work together to enhance your artwork. ‘The frame should never be too heavy as it can take away from the picture,’ says Denis.

It’s a good idea to chat through different options with your framer before committing. This kind of consultation means you know what you are getting, but it is also an opportunity for the framer to find out a little bit about the decor in the room where you plan to hang the artwork. ‘I always ask questions about the decor,’ says Denis. The frame needs to complement the room as well as the image,’ he explains. 

A new frame and mount can give a treasured artwork a whole new lease of life. Trends change over time and sometimes older style frames can make an artwork feel dated. ‘By reframing you can completely transform the piece,’ says Denis. The same apples to the mount. ‘If the mount is the wrong colour it can really detract from the picture,’ says Denis. 

Not all pictures need to be glazed. Oil paintings for example work beautifully without glass. ‘For oil on canvas, a floating mount is really popular,’ says Denis. This is where the canvas is stretched on a stretcher bar to create a shallow box which is then mounted over a board and finished with a frame. Oil paintings are typically finished with a clear varnish that offers protection. ‘If extra protection is required I’d recommend going with anti-reflection glass as opposed to normal glass,’ he says.

Bare walls

How to hang pictures

‘Hanging pictures properly is really important,’ says Denis. ‘When pictures aren’t hung properly not only do they not look well but if the correct fittings haven’t been used there is a risk they will fall and break,’ he warns. 

‘Don’t use Velcro products, for hanging pictures,’ says Denis. They are ideal for Christmas decorations or light decorative pieces but where glass is involved there’s a risk the picture will fall,’ he warns. ‘For solid walls you should drill a hole and use a wall plug and screw. Make sure the screw goes all the way into the plug until you can’t see the thread. This is so the thread doesn’t damage the string or cause it to wear down and the picture to eventually fall,’ he explains.

For plasterboard walls there is a special plug which can be fitted with a Philips head screwdriver. It’s very easy to install and can hold up to 7 kilos. For larger pictures he recommends using two rather than one of these fittings spaced apart for additional support. For smaller pieces, there are special hooks with three little nails that can be fitted with a hammer. 

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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