How to Ensure Hanging Decor is Aligned and Straight

Photo of a woman hanging photos

Mr. Handyman, what is the best way to hang pictures and such on walls so that they line up? I think what I am trying to say is that the frames are at the same height, even on different walls. The wire in the back is never the same length.

Ayla D., Fairfield



Hi Ayla,

Mr. Handyman helps with wall décor quite often and it’s not just pictures. We hang decorative wall ornaments, shelves, and mirrors—some so large that it takes two techs to lift them. I’ve held up an 80-pound mirror with a helper while the lady of the house decides if it’s too high or too low. It’s all part of the job and we want to get it right. We will refer to hanging pictures for this procedure.

If you have many items to hang, the best way to start is to decide what goes where. Put the pictures on the floor against the wall where you want them, then have someone hold the pictures up and determine if it’s the best place for them.

You will need a tape measure, a pencil, picture hooks, and a hammer. Another great tool to have is a laser level. This is not necessary but will save a lot of time. Make sure the picture hooks you get are rated to safely hold the weight of the picture frame.

Start with one picture. With a pencil and tape measure find the horizontal center and mark the back of the picture. If only one hook is needed, measure the distance of the wire from this center point to the top of the frame and mark this on the back or to an applied sticky note.

Have another person hold the framed picture to the wall slightly higher than an average person’s eye level. The standard is 5’6’’ to the center of the picture. Make a light pencil mark on the wall at the center top of the frame. A little dot will be fine. Measure down from this wall and mark the measurement you had from the center of the wire to the top of the frame. Drive the hanger and nail into the wall at this dimension. The angle of the nail will slightly move the hanger downward so place the bottom part of the hanger hook about 1/8th” to 1/4” above this point. If you want the remaining pictures hung at the same height, measure from the ceiling down to the top of the first frame that you’ve hung. Note the measurement. Using this measurement, measure down from the ceiling at the place where you wish the picture to be hung. Follow the same procedure from above to locate the placement of each hanger and repeat for each picture.

If a picture frame is wide enough to warrant the use of two hooks, then place the hooks a third in from each end of the frame. A little math will be required. For example, if the horizontal measurement of the frame is 48 inches, divide this by 3. This equals 16”. Measure 16” in on each end of the frame and mark it. Hold the wire tight at these points and measure to the frame top as before. Once again use this measurement to locate the points for the hangers. Install one hook and then measure from the ceiling to this nail. Measure the distance between the marks on the back of the picture and transfer this dimension to the wall. Measure from the ceiling the dimension from the other hanger and intersect the other mark. Install the second hanger to this mark. Hang each picture and slightly adjust as needed.

Mr. Handyman technicians hold years of experience dealing with projects like this. If you feel unsure about being a do-it-yourself person, just give us a call and say “Help,” and help will be there just when you need it, “ON TIME.” You can also take comfort knowing that the work will be, “DONE RIGHT,” with 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed.

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