Hanging Wall Art Complete Guide – How to Decorate

This Hanging Wall Art Guide was updated in April 2023.

The very first step in hanging wall art is choosing the proper placement for each piece.

But, when you’ve got a very large abstract canvas or an odd-numbered stack of petite nautical prints, choosing where to hang what is often the most daunting task. So there you stare at a blank wall… Now what?

In this detailed guide, we’ll show you how to hang your artwork and make the process a little bit easier, and, we think, even fun!

Watch our fun, informative video  “Hanging Wall Art – Size Matters” below as a quick reference or starting point. Then, find even more décor ideas, tools, and detailed tips details below it to help hang your own wall art at home!


Hanging Wall Art Quick Reference Guide

1. A fireplace is always the focal point of a room Fireplace in living room

  • Display a painting in that space above the mantle to tell your own design story.
  • Make the art grouping about the same size as the fireplace opening.
  • Use one large piece or several small pieces that appear as one unit.

2. Remember you are decorating a wallHanging wall art
Choose smaller pieces for narrow walls and larger canvas wall art pieces for big walls.

A tightly-grouped even number of pieces in a small area, such as a stair landing, is perfect and gives a window effect. Light colors enhance this effect.

A tightly-grouped even number of pieces works great to balance out a large space or a high wall. Note that large spaces can handle slightly larger spacing than small spaces.

3. Arrange pictures on a wall before putting hammer to nailWall hanging guide Arrange art on floor to get an idea of how you'll hang it on the floor

  • Lay everything out on a table or on the floor
  • Move the pieces around until you have an arrangement that you like
  • Lay the pieces out on a large piece of kraft paper or wrapping paper and then trace around each piece
  • Mark the hanging points from the back of the art onto the kraft paper
  • Then, tape the paper to the wall and hammer in the nails
  • Remove the paper, and voila!

4. Hang artwork at eye levelHanging wall guide | Hang art at eye level for viewer

For hanging art height, think of groupings as a single, whole piece. To hang a group of 4 pictures for example, consider hanging it as one entire square.

Then place pictures so that the center point of the piece or grouping is at approximately eye level.

NOTE: A dining room wall decoration arrangement is best slightly lower, to enjoy looking at it most while you are sitting down.

5. Picture Placement on a wall — size matters

Art hung over a piece of furniture should not be wider than the width of the furniture, a general principle being that the art should be about 50-75% the width of the furniture.

Wall Décor Ideas

Symmetrical Placement of your wall art

Great for pieces that are similar in size, shape, and subject matter, this method allows you to create a grouping that has visual balance and is perfect over large furniture collections or fireplace mantles.

How to hang art in even numbers

To hang 4 pictures in a square, for example, keep spacing even between them, and keep them fairly tight.

Tight spacing = 1-2”
Normal spacing = 4-6”

how to hang 4 pictures in a square wall decorating diagram
How to hang 3 pictures in a row

How to hang art in three’s? Go vertical. Our hugely popular Birch Tree paintings do this well.

Perfect for a hallway or sofa wall, hanging tall or narrow art allows you to achieve some volume without appearing crowded.  For this scenario, an odd number of pieces is more attractive to the eye and is visually balanced. A normal spacing of 4-6 inches between each frame is recommended.

Tip: Use your hand, fingers closed, to determine spacing in this scenario.

wall decorating diagram to space pictures using your hand widthAsymmetrical Balance

This is a great solution when you have a group of prints that aren’t necessarily the same but share at least one similar element, such as subject matter or color scheme. You can asymmetrically arrange the pieces so that they still achieve a nice ‘organic’ balance.

Hanging two pictures staggered? This is optimal with larger pieces. Try staggering them by hanging one lower than the other, so that top and bottom don’t match.

Asymmetrical Wall Art

Grouping larger and smaller pieces asymmetrically helps to create interest and energy. The same is true for vertical and horizontal pieces in the same grouping.

wall decorating diagram how to hang multiple pictures on wall

How to hang multiple pictures on wall by Vertical Line

Group four or more pieces, of varying sizes and in a non-symmetrical pattern, by anchoring them on an imaginary vertical line.

  1. The art should be visually balanced on both sides of the imaginary vertical line.
  2. Too much ‘weight’ on one side or the other will make the group seem awkward and unbalanced.
  3. Make sure the art on both sides of the vertical is similar either in color scheme, frame style, or subject matter.

hanging wall art multiple pictures by Vertical Line

Hanging wall art on different surfaces

Best way to hang pictures on drywall

Most walls are actually hollow, with relatively soft plaster or drywall covering their sturdy lumber framework. The boards, or studs, behind such a wall provide adequate support for any object that is hung on the wall, but they can be difficult to locate and may not be spaced where you want them.

So for surfaces other than wood, an ordinary nail or screw is usually inadequate.

Hardware hangers which we’ve listed below, specially designed for hollow walls, readily solve the problem of surfaces too weak to hold a nail or screw. Most hardware stores stock them in various sizes.

How to hang pictures on a concrete wall

  • For concrete block or brick walls, use lead wall plugs, available at most building supply stores, to support a hanging screw.
  • Use a power drill with a carbide tipped bit to create a hole for the plug.
  • Tap the plug into place and insert the screw.
  • Hardware dealers can recommend the correct screw and bit sizes.

How to hang things on Paneling

Wood is the ideal surface for hanging almost anything. Hanging hardware in this case is most often a supply of wood screws. With their pointed ends and sharp grooves, wood screws are easy to install with just a screwdriver.

Lots of home offices have paneled walls, and they are perfect surfaces to hang pictures like our inconsolable puppy print, to remind you that someone special is waiting for you when all the work is done.

Best hardware for hanging pictures

Picture Hanger 

All you’ll need is a small hammer. The configuration of a picture hanger’s angled nail and metal hook will provide adequate support for most framed pictures. Check the package for weight limit your hanger will hold. For larger frames, it is often advisable to use a pair of hangers.

  • Recommended for smaller plaques and average-sized picture frames.

Wall hook for hanging artwork

Wall Anchor

Made of plastic or nylon, wall anchors function as sleeves into which a screw can be tightened. Refer to the product’s packaging instructions for the correct size of pilot hole to drill.

Once you have drilled a hole, tap the anchor in with a hammer until it is flush with the wall. Place your object or bracket on the wall, insert the screw, and tighten. Tightening the screw causes the anchor to expand inside the wall, anchoring your bracket to the wall.

  • Recommended for drapery rod brackets and other lightweight brackets on drywall or plaster.

Wall anchor for hanging artwork

“Molly” Bolt

If you do not have a drill, you may want to look for an expansion bolt (sometimes called a “molly bolt”), which can be hammered into the wall.

Once the sheathed bolt is in the wall, turn it clockwise with a flat-head screwdriver. When it will not turn any more, turn it counter-clockwise to secure its collar against the inside of the wall. If necessary, the bolt can be removed to put it through the object or bracket you’re hanging.

  • When attaching a two-holed bracket to the wall, you may want to use an expansion bolt for the top hole, but a wood screw will suffice in the lower hole.
  • Recommended for mirrors, shelf units, brackets, and other heavy objects on drywall or plaster.Expansion bolt, used to hang wall art

Toggle Bolt

As with wall anchors, toggle bolt installation begins with drilling a pilot hole and then lightly tapping the toggle bolt into position. Good for heavier jobs, toggle bolts have spring-activated “wings” that fold out once inside the hollow wall.

As you tighten the bolt with a screwdriver, the wings expand and are drawn against the wall.

Note: Once installed, removing the bolt from the wall will cause the wings to detach and fall behind the wall.

  • Recommended for mirrors, shelf units, brackets, and other heavy objects on drywall or plaster.Toggle bolt for hanging wall art