Hanging art or photos on the walls can make a house feel more like a home, personalising your space. But you may not want to deal with any sort of damage to your walls — especially if you are renting.
Fortunately, you have several options for decorating your place without destroying your walls, and it starts with planning — long before you put the first nail in the wall or drill the first hole.
Pick your space: If you don’t already know where you want to hang your art or posters, now’s the time to start looking and making sure that the space you want your art to hang is large enough to accommodate it. Also, make sure you’re not cramming so many frames, photos, and posters in such a small space that you can’t manage them or space them evenly. And, according to Architectural Digest, it’s important to take the type of wall into consideration. Conditions are different if you’re drilling into a brick wall versus a plaster wall versus tile.
Hang at eye-level: One design tip that will help you maximise the use of your wall space without losing sight of your art is to always hang your art at eye-level. This way, you’ll be able to see it without having to crane your neck up or look down your nose to see what you’re hanging on the wall. If you don’t want to eyeball what “eye level” is, run a tape measure from the floor to the ceiling, and have someone else mark on the measure where your eyes naturally rest when you’re standing a foot or two away from the wall.
Get a stud finder: While you may not need to hang light posters in acrylic or plastic frames or photographs from a stud, if you do have an expensive piece in a heavy frame, you should know where the studs behind your walls are. Even if you don’t need your studs for your artwork, take a stud finder and mark - perhaps at the top of your wall where it meets the ceiling - where the studs are with a pencil. Then you’ll never need to worry again.
Mount the hardware
Measure first: Make sure you mark off any places you need to hammer nails or drill holes for brackets before you try to hang the piece. Use a straight-edge, ruler or level to make sure the sides are level before you actually hold the art up to the wall. Mark the centre line (the halfway point between the bottom and the top of the art, which should also rest at eye-level,) the edges, and all the sides. When you’re finished, putting the art up should be like fitting a puzzle piece into a slot. Making sure you take the time to mark where the art will go first and that it’s level and spaced well from other pieces will save you from mounting a piece only to take it down and have to re-mount it somewhere else later.
Use the right tools: Picture hanging kits, easily available at most hardware and department stores as well as online, often have all the materials you need to hang most common frames on your walls. Light pieces like photos, movie posters, and other art will likely require just a nail, or a nail and a bracket or picture hanger (most light frames have a bracket on the back already.)
If you’re facing something over 10kg. however, this is where you’ll be happy you marked the studs. Depending on how heavy the art is you may consider using a plastic wall anchor in the drywall, or solidly mounting the art in the stud using a mounting bracket. Don’t use drywall screws in wood, and don’t use wood screws in drywall — go to your local hardware store and find the type of picture hanger for the size and weight you’re dealing with. Using the wrong mounting brackets or tools will inevitably lead you to waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of your art crashing to the floor.
Use blank paper for dummy art: There’s no need to try to hold your art or frame up to the wall while simultaneously marking or drilling holes in it. Put the art on the floor, and lay notebook or construction paper around the edges, then tape the paper together so you have a large sheet that’s the same size as the piece you want to hang. Then use the sheet, now the same height and width as the art, as a guide that you can tape to the wall to mark your holes or even drill your holes through the hanging paper without worrying if you’re in the right spot.
Mount the art
Once you’ve measured, centered and mounted your hardware, placing the art on the wall should be a simple task, and you shouldn’t have to spend too much time tilting the art to make sure it’s level. You can save the paint on your walls from scuffs and scratches, though, by adding small adhesive bits of felt to the corners or bottom of the frame where it’s in direct contact with the wall. If you don’t have anything like that, a bit of sticky note or masking tape will work, too: anything to keep the frame from scraping against the wall directly.
Bonus tip: use disposable hooks
3M’s Command line of plastic and metal hooks also work well to hang light pieces of art and posters from drywall or concrete, without the need for drills or nails. Apartment dwellers in rental units, uni students, or anyone else who is technically prohibited from hammering or drilling will find them especially useful. The adhesive strips that come with Command hooks go on easily, cure quickly and remove without damaging the walls (in most cases,) which is a huge benefit if you like to change out the art on your walls frequently, or just don’t want to risk drilling or hammering nails into them.
The trouble with these kinds of disposable hooks, Velcro strips, and other mounting strips is that they’re generally rated for very light objects. If you have small, light plastic or acrylic frames with photos or printed posters in them, they’ll work well. If you have a solid wood frame or oversized pieces of art, they may hold for a few days, but your art will come clattering down unless you use three or four hooks to hold it up.
Hanging a picture shouldn’t have to be so hard that you’re worried about damaging your walls in the process. With a little preparation, you can do it right the first time and hang your artwork easily, without ending up with multiple nail-holes in your wall that you subsequently have to patch up or cover with the art you hung.