How to hang artwork, mirrors and other items.

So you’ve inherited some beautiful family art or have found the perfect mirror for that reserved spot over the mantelpiece. A trip to the local DIY superstore may have presented several options for mounting artwork, ornaments and artifacts. Each of these options have their merits and equally importantly – their limitations. In this piece, we explore the art of hanging artwork and mirrors, and equally importantly, where to hang them.

Knock-knock, what’s there?

Construction methods differ subject to the age of the building, whether they are external or internal walls, load bearing or non-load bearing. You can typically expect a mix of drywall, lathe and plaster, or masonry.

The wall type dictates the most appropriate mechanical fixings to use and potentially the most suitable location of the item. In terms of structural integrity, ideally try to fix directly to the studs in a stud wall.

There are numerous options for mechanical fixings, including rawplugs, self-drill, Gripit®, spring toggles, butterfly fixings, hollow wall anchors and snap toggles.

How much do you weigh?

Mechanical fixings come with guidance as to their maximum support weight. These should be observed unless you’re ok with loud bangs in the middle of the night!

If the item is especially heavy it’s advisable to consider whether the frame would benefit from additional reinforcement prior to hanging. This is especially the case with heavy mirrors with traditional wooden mitred frames. We normally recommend corner brackets be fitted to avoid the frame joints opening up over time.

To wire or not to wire?

Traditionally, pictures and artwork were hung from a wire or string attached to the rear of the frame via a hook or nail/screw fixed into the wall surface.

Whilst this method may produce satisfactory results there are many alternatives available which may be more appropriate. There are different variations of D-rings, cleats and brackets available which can provide stronger, more reliable, and discreet fixings.

Irrespective of which fixing is used when hanging artwork and mirrors we recommend the use of bumpers at the bottom of the frame. These prevent marking the wall and compensate for any surface irregularities.

Beware of hidden surprises.

Before you place that drill against the wall with an enthusiastic grin, have a thought for what may lie beneath! Electrical, communication, and water services are typically found embedded within walls and can easily be damaged by a power drill.

Whilst modern building practices should increase the certainty and regularity of where cables may be situated, this should not be taken for granted. We suggest the use of some form of wall scanner to ensure you’re not about to drill into a live cable or pipe with potentially disastrous consequences.

So you’ve got the What and How sorted, what about the Where?

In addition to fixing in areas where services may be concealed, the following pointers can assist in finding the ideal location for hanging artwork and mirrors in your home.

Avoid hanging paintings in direct sunlight as it may cause the colours to fade over time.

Be cautious of hanging above heat sources such as fireplaces as this may result in damage over time.

External walls in many properties can be prone to condensation. Hanging items on external walls may encourage the growth of mould and mildew behind the item as air circulation is compromised.

If the picture or mirror is bigger than the piece of furniture below it, it may look unbalanced. Typically, artwork should be no larger than two-thirds of the size of the furniture situated below it.

Hanging a large mirror at one end of a small room will make the room seem larger. Mirrors can also be used to bounce the light off surfaces and make dark rooms brighter.

Groups of pictures should be hung on large wall spaces as opposed to one large picture to create visual balance. Odd number arrangements are ideal as there’s a middle and a mirror image on either side.


Final thoughts.

Consider whether people will spend more time standing or sitting in the room. Hallway and kitchen = standing, dining room and living room = sitting. Artwork is recommended to be hung so that the center of the image is at around eye level. This can be lower in a room where people predominantly sit down. For above a sofa it’s generally recommended that the bottom of the artwork is one hand width above the sofa.

Hanging multiple pieces of different dimensions around a room can be difficult. This is especially so when walls, doorways, or windows separate the pieces. Level the middle of the pieces rather than the bottoms or tops of the frames.

Finally, before you commit to the location to hang the picture or mirror leave it propped up in approximately the right location for a few days. This will give you a feel for it at different times of the day and in different light. Better to be safe than sorry!

We hope that you find the above pointers useful in hanging artwork and mirrors in your home with confidence and certainty!


The Help Business are your local Professional Handyman Company operating across West Essex and East Herts. We’re on hand to help you create, enhance and cherish your beautiful home.

If you’d like any help with similar projects around your home, we’d be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free estimate.

The Help Business, your Handyman Professionals.

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