How to Hang a Picture With Wire

Back of picture frame with wire attached for hanging

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 20 mins
  • Total Time: 10 - 20 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to $20

Hanging a picture with wire is the classic method that still works so well today. Using a wire gives you the freedom to slightly raise or lower the picture without removing wall or picture hangers. Hanging wire lets you instantly set the picture level. Plus, wire hanging materials are so inexpensive: a coil of picture hanging wire sufficient to hang 50 pictures costs just a few dollars.

Before You Begin

Hanging a picture on the wall with wire requires you to install two hooks called D-rings on the back of the frame. Strong picture hanging wire is strung between the D-rings with enough slack so that the picture hangs comfortably without the wall hangers showing.

For very small pictures, you can use one wall hanger. Generally, though, it's best to attach two wall hangers per picture. This better distributes the weight and helps the picture remain level for longer periods with less need for adjustment.

Safety Considerations

All picture hanging wire is weight-rated. Weight ratings mostly range from 10 to 50 pounds, though some heavy-duty hanging wire is rated up to 150 pounds. For safety, hang your picture within the wire's weight parameters.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Large nail or awl
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Wire cutter
  • Bubble level

Materials

  • 2 D-rings
  • 2 adhesive felt or silicone pads
  • 2 picture wall hangers
  • Picture hanging wire

Instructions

Materials and tools to hang a picture with wire

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  1. Prepare Picture

    On a table, lay the framed picture face-down on a soft cloth or towel. Position the picture so that the eventual top of the picture is facing away from you and the bottom of the picture is closest to your body. Have your tools nearby, within easy reach.

    Picture frame laid on table next to hanging materials and tools

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Attach Bumper Pads

    Peel off the protective paper from the back of one felt or silicone pad. Stick it on the lower-left corner of the picture frame, stepping it back from both edges by 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Repeat for the lower-right corner of the picture frame.

    Silicon bumper pad added to corner of picture frame

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Calculate D-Ring Attachment Points

    Use the tape measure to measure the height of the picture frame, from the very bottom of the frame to the very top. Divide the measurement by one-third.

    Measuring D-Ring points

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Mark D-Ring Attachment Points

    Use the resulting measurement to measure downward from the top of the picture frame on the left rail of the frame. Make a mark at the point. Repeat on the right rail of the frame.

    For example: The picture frame is 15 inches tall. One-third of 15 inches is 5 inches. Measure 5 inches downward from the top and make a mark on the left rail. Repeat for the right side.

    Thin tape measure calculating measurements for D-ring attachments

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Create Pilot Holes on Frame

    Use a nail, awl, or any other pointed tool to create a shallow pilot hole on each of the marks. Press hard on the tool, then rotate or twist the tool a couple of times to make the hole deeper.

    D-ring attachment points marked on each side of picture frame

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  6. Install D-Rings on Frame

    Place one of the D-rings on the left rail of the picture frame. Position the ring so that the flat side of the ring's attachment base is facing downward. Also rotate the D-ring so that it is facing sideways; that is, the ring part should look just like the letter D. Screw the ring into place with a hand screwdriver.

    Repeat on the right side rail. All procedures are the same, except the ring will look like a backward letter D.

    Pointed tool twisting on D-ring marks to make pilot holes

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  7. Attach Left Side of Wire

    Slide the end of the picture hanging wire through the left D-ring far enough so that there is 3 to 4 inches of excess. Securely knot the end of the wire on the D-ring. Twist another inch of excess wire up the rest of the wire. Cut off excess.

    Tip

    Do not only twist the wire back on itself. While the wire may hold initially, after some time the wire will untwist itself and cause the picture to fall. You must knot and twist the wire.

    Picture hanging wire attached to left side of picture frame with D-ring

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  8. Attach Right Side of Wire

    Pull the wire directly across the picture frame to the right rail. Slide the wire through the right D-ring and cut it off so that about 4 inches of wire remains. Hold the wire with one hand. Use your other hand to pull the wire upward, keeping it taut. Stop the wire about 1 to 2 inches short before it reaches the top edge of the top rail. Knot and twist the wire on the right D-ring.

    Right side of picture hanging wire attached to right D-ring

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  9. Add Hangers to Wall

    Locate the desired spot on the wall where you want to hang the picture. (A general rule of thumb is to hang the center of a picture 57 inches above the floor.) With the hammer, attach one of the picture wall hangers to the wall. Add the second wall hanger at the same height as the first hanger. Horizontally space the two hangers at about one-third of the width of the picture. So, for a 20-inch-wide picture, space the two wall hangers about 6 to 7 inches apart.

    Picture frame with wire on wall hangers

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  10. Hang Picture on Wall

    Hang the wire first over one wall hanger, then over the adjacent hanger. Tilt the picture up or down to level it. Place the bubble level on top of the picture frame to find true level.

    Yellow level tool placed on wooden picture frame after hanging

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald