How to Hang a Picture

Sawtooth hanger on back corner of picture frame next to hanging materials closeup

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to $15

Framed artwork and photos make your house look unique and personal. And if you're going to hang pictures, you want them to be as level, true, and solid as possible. Doing so isn't all that hard with the right materials and a few basic measurements.

Before You Begin

Picture Hanging Materials

  • Frame Hangers: Sawtooth hangers are small metal brackets that attach to the back of a picture frame with small screws. Five notches in the hanger allow for multiple positioning points. You can use just one frame hanger mounted at the center for the frame or two frame hangers at opposite corners of the frame.
  • Wall Hangers: Use picture wall hangers instead of nails. Wall hangers regulate the angle and the depth of the nail. Wall hangers' flat backs, too, prevent them from sinking into the wall. These should always be used when hanging heavier items.

Picture Hanging Methods

One Hanger

The single sawtooth hanger method places the hanger at the top-center of the back of the picture frame. This method is best for picture frames that weigh 20 pounds or less.

Pros
  • Easy leveling of the picture on the wall.

  • No complicated measurements are required.

Cons
  • Pictures may shift out of level over time.

  • Greater possibility of tear-out from the picture frame.

Two Hangers

The double sawtooth hanger method places two hangers at the top two corners of the back of the picture frame. While best for pictures that weigh between 20 and 40 pounds, it can be used for lighter pictures, too.

Pros
  • Greater stability and strength.

  • Pictures never shift out of level.

Cons
  • Hangers must be perfectly aligned.

  • Wall hangers must be precisely placed on the wall.

Safety Considerations

Wall hangers are weight-rated and range from 10 pounds to 100 pounds. Purchase the correct wall hanger for the weight of your picture. Sawtooth frame hangers have a 20-pound maximum rating. Do not hang heavy items like mirrors with sawtooth hangers.

Estimated Weight of Framed Picture With Glass
Picture Size Weight
5-inch by 7-inch 12 ounces
8-inch by 8-inch 1 pound
11-inch by 14-inch 2 pounds
16-inch by 20-inch 5 pounds
18-inch by 24-inch 6 pounds
42-inch by 42-inch 9 pounds
40-inch by 60-inch 15 pounds
50-inch by 75-inch 20 pounds

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Clean towel
  • Bubble level
  • Small hammer

Materials

  • Sawtooth picture frame hangers
  • Wall hangers
  • Pencil

Instructions

Materials and tools to hang a picture

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Hang Frames With One Sawtooth Hanger

  1. Determine Center of Frame

    Lay the picture frame face-down on a towel. With the ruler or tape measure, determine the width of the frame. Divide the resulting number in half. Then, with the rule or tape measure still in place, measure to that halfway spot on the picture frame. Mark it with a light pencil mark.

    Tip

    Make sure you're marking the back of picture frame along the eventual top of the picture when it's up on the wall.

    Picture frame lying face down and center marked with tape measure

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Attach Sawtooth Hanger to Frame

    With a Phillips head screwdriver, use the two provided screws to attach the sawtooth hanger to the back of the picture frame. Center the sawtooth hanger horizontally at the pencil mark. Do not place the hanger too high on the frame. Instead, keep it vertically centered on the frame's top rail.

    Sawtooth hanger attached to center of picture frame with screws and screwdriver

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Determine Placement on Wall

    Find the spot on the wall where you want to hang the picture. Mark the spot with a light pencil mark.

    Tip

    One rule of thumb is to hang pictures so that the center of the picture is 57 to 62 inches above the floor.

    Pencil marking placement on wall for picture hanging

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Attach Wall Hanger to Wall

    With a light hammer and using the provided nail, tap the wall hanger into place on the wall. Aim to have the bottom of the hanger hook over the pencil mark, not the nail itself.

    Hammer tapping nail on wall to place bottom of sawtooth hanger

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Hang Picture

    Rest the picture's sawtooth hanger on the wall hanger. Lay the bubble level on top of the picture frame and tilt the picture left or right until the bubble centers between the two marks on the level.

    Picture frame placed on wall with yellow level on top

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Hang Frames With Two Sawtooth Hangers

  1. Measure Position of Sawtooth Hangers on Frame

    With the picture frame resting face-down on a clean towel, measure the thickness of the picture frame's top rail. Divide that number in half. On the left side, mark downward that distance. Repeat on the right side. Use a ruler to draw a light pencil line across the two marks.

    For example: The picture frame's top rail is 1 1/2 inches thick. Half of that is 3/4 inches. So, you will measure downward 3/4 inches on the left side and again 3/4 inches on the right side. Then, draw a line from one mark to the next.

    Picture frame resting face down and marked on back for two sawtooth hangers

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Attach Sawtooth Hangers to Frame

    Position the holes of one of the sawtooth hangers over the pencil line. Place the far end of the hanger about 1/2 inch from the right side of the frame. Screw the hanger into place. Repeat for the left side.

    Sawtooth hangers attached to each side of frame

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Determine Center Mark of Picture on Wall

    Determine placement of the picture on the wall. The midpoint of the picture should be at about eye level or about 57 to 62 inches above the floor. Lightly mark the wall.

    White tape measure determining center mark for frame on wall

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Mark Hanger Placement on Wall

    On the picture frame, measure the distance from the center of the left sawtooth hanger to the center of the right sawtooth hanger. Divide that number in half. On the wall, use that resulting number to measure rightward from the pencil mark on the wall and mark it.

    White tape measure determining marks for sawtooth hangers on wall

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Add Right Wall Hanger

    Tap a wall hanger firmly into place on the right (not center) mark from the previous step.

    Right wall hanger hammered into wall for picture frame

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  6. Place Left Wall Hanger

    Using the same rightward distance as before, mark leftward from the center mark and place a light pencil mark on the wall. Have an assistant hold the bubble level on top of the righthand wall hanger. Lay the left side of the bubble level on top of the lefthand wall hanger. Move the left hanger up or down until the bubble level indicates level. Tap the left hanger into place.

    Yellow bubble level placed on right hanger to mark left hanger location

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  7. Hang Picture on Wall

    Hang the picture on the two wall hangers. You may need to place your head against the wall to see behind the picture, in order to place the picture hangers on the wall hangers.

    Picture being hanged on two wall hangers with hands

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald