How to Position Picture Frames on A Wall
Positioning paintings or pictures on a wall can be a tedious task for many. Simply eye it up and bang in a nail and hang. We recently just moved into a new home and none of our paintings line up with existing holes in the wall. Of course, to be expected, our artwork is different from the previous owner.
So the paintings are out of alignment of using existing nails on the walls. For myself, with my engineering background, it bugs me half to death when a painting is misaligned.
Daniel and I spent a few hours over this past weekend to position paintings on the walls. With my engineering background, there are mathematics involved in hanging a picture. Which I will cover below.
Prepare the wall by filling in existing nail holes. Repaint the entire wall if required. Sometimes, the artwork can cover the existing holes but if you ever move, once your artwork is down, it will be seen. Best to correct before you hang new artwork.
Grab a spare piece of paper and a calculator.
- Measure the distance between where you want the painting to sit. In the case below. I measured between the two frames of the doors to give me a distance.
- Take that number and divide by 2. This is the half way measurement to where you want the painting to sit. Write that down.
Have a friend hold up the painting to the wall and position it height wise to where you want to sit. Measure the distance between the top of the painting to the ceiling. Write that number down.
Measure the distance from the top of the frame to where the picture is hung. It could be a wire or just to the frame itself. Write that number down.
Let’s Calculate Horizontal Distance
Horizontal axis across. We measured the distance of the space and divided it by 2 to center it.
- With a measuring tape and pencil. Mark the distance lightly on the wall and draw the marking line in a vertical direction. Mark it close to where you think the height of the picture frame nail will be.
Let’s Calculate Vertical Distance
We have to calculate down from the ceiling. So you need two numbers that you have written down to figure it out.
- Use the distance of the frame to the ceiling + distance of the frame to the hanging spot on the back of the frame. Adding them together will give you the distance from the ceiling to the hanging spot on the back.
- With a measuring tape and a pencil, measure down from the ceiling and lightly mark the distance on the wall in a horizontal direction.
Find the X
With both Vertical Line Marked and Horizontal Line Marked. Draw a small X at the spot where both measurements intersect. This is where to put in your nail or screw to the wall to hang your picture.
Finding the balance of a visual perspective is really more of a personal choice but also want makes the most sense.
Here we have a frame of the door and there is a corner on the other side of the painting to the right. You have to decide whether you want the painting to be positioned between the door frame and corner or between the edge of the light switch to the corner.
In this case, we decided the frame is the better choice as it will make the painting look off center between the door frame of the door and corner. So we ignore the switch sitting there.
You have to consider how low your painting will be. The case below, if the painting was too low, it will be behind the furniture. So we used the furniture as a place marker. I don’t want the furniture or people’s heads to touch the painting if the furniture is pushed back.
Balancing Example Below
In this case, we have two walls that are identical across the room. One wall is completely empty while the wall on the left has the thermostat and light switch.
In our case, the paintings are substantial in size. On the right, the painting fits perfectly in the middle, on the wall on the left, the painting is partially covering the light switch.
You have two choices.
- Position each relative to the center spots of the wall. Find the center spot between the light switch and corner on the wall on the left.
- Position each balanced exactly to each other. So if the painting on the left has to take into account the light switch, position the painting on the right as if there is a light switch there so both paintings are equally spaced from the corners. In this case, we are doing this option.