How to Hang a Large Picture

How to Hang a Large Picture

Yesterday I introduced you to my husband Mike.  Today he is taking over!

Welcome to the inaugural edition of :

where Mike takes over Holy Craft for the day and all of the tips are guaranteed.*
*50% of the time, they work every time!

Well, it's finally come to this.  After years of lurking on the edges, assisting with projects only to be cropped out of the pictures, and generally getting stuck with the sweatshop labor while my better half gets the glory, Rachel finally offered me the opportunity to write my own post, tell my own story, and let the world find out for themselves just how long of a run-on sentence they are willing to put up with.  And I promptly turned her down.  "I want no part of it," I said.  "Blogging is your thing," I declared.  "I'm not even crafty!" I protested.

  But it was all to no avail.  Just as Leonard and Sheldon are wont to do on occasion, I had forgotten the fine print of our roommate agreement.  Said agreement states, unequivocally, that in order to uphold my end of our Mutually Satisfying Relationship, I am required to assist her in any way she deems necessary.  To paraphrase Tennyson's immortal words, mine is not to make reply, mine is not to reason why, mine is but to do and die.  Which means, in this case, that I am to blog.  So here I sit, pecking out my thoughts, exposing my heart, baring my soul and leaving it at the mercy of the internets.  Half a league, half a league, half a league onward...

Today's topic:
How To Properly Hang A Large Picture
First things first.  Accept the fact that hanging a picture of this size requires more than just banging a nail into the wall and calling it good.  To do it right, there are going to be several steps.  To get yourself in the proper sequential activity sort of mood, you may want to grab your iPod and crank up some tunes.  If you're a child of the 80's like me, perhaps "Step By Step" by New Kids on the Block?  
Next, have someone super strong and dreamy (see below) hold the picture against the wall, while you stand back and direct him to the proper location.  Try not to take too long though, because those things can be heavy.  Even Atlas got Heracles to carry the weight of the heavens for a while...

Now that you know approximately where you want it, grab your stud finder and figure out exactly what is going on in the walls behind where you want to hang the picture.  Don't have a stud finder, you say?  Stop right now and go get one.  We'll wait.  They're relatively inexpensive, and essential for a lot of jobs, not just picture hanging.  You can probably find one for about 10 bucks.  

Once you get your stud finder home, practice with it by pressing the button and sliding it along the wall.  Depending on your model, as it approaches the location of a stud, the lights will change and it will start beeping.  Now is a good time to practice making the beeping sound yourself.  Once you've got it down, use the "stud" finder and your new found beeping skills to "locate" your husband.  Cheesy?  Of course.  But he'll appreciate it.  Remember ladies, a happy husband is a helpful husband!

Back to the task at hand.  With the stud finder, figure out exactly where the studs are in the wall behind where you want to hang the picture.  You will also need to know the location of the hardware on the back of the frame that you hang the picture by.  Is it one hanger in the center?  Two across the top?  If you're lucky, there will be a stud (or studs) exactly where you need them, or at least close enough that you can move the picture over a few inches and it will still be pretty much where you want it.

Here's a picture of me using the stud finder.  With the paparazzi (Rachel) snapping pictures of my every move, I did find it a bit hard to concentrate on the task at hand.  When I should have been thinking about where the studs were relative to the picture hangars, I was really thinking "I wonder if anyone will notice my bald spot?"

(Hint:  This isn't one of those Magic Eye illusions that had everyone staring at blurry pictures in mall storefronts during the early 90's.  It shouldn't be too hard to find, since pretty much my entire head is a bald spot.  I'm just in denial.)

The stud finder told me that there weren't studs close to where I needed them, so the job actually became a bit easier in a sense, because I could hang it exactly where Rachel wanted it and wasn't limited by stud location.  However, if the stud is right where you need it (much easier if the frame has only one hanger) then just grab a screw, drive it in at the proper height, and hang the picture. 
Here's a shot of me measuring to get the picture just right on the wall.  Centering the picture on this particular wall would make it look awkward over the cabinet below, and centering it above the cabinet would look bad on the wall, so I chose to split the difference, which worked out pretty well.
Notice the reflection of the dining room chandelier in the picture below.  The glowing halo effect makes my beautiful wife look even more angelic than usual.  

That's right folks, forget what you heard about artists and musicians, us engineers know how to sweet talk the ladies...  

Quick side note, if I may:  Although we may be able to talk to the ladies, our listening skills could still use a little help from time to time.  Case in point:  The other day while driving home from work, I got a call from Rachel.  She proceeded to describe the dinner situation as tenuous at best, owing to the fact that all the plates were currently being washed in the dishwasher, and allowed as how we should probably just go out to dinner.  Problem solver that I am, I reminded her that we have a set of perfectly good plastic plates sitting on the top shelf, and we could just use those.  

See how helpful I am?  Problem solved.  Except that for some reason she continued to discuss various tableware issues, with me finding a solution to every one, until she finally got so exasperated that she hung up.  It was about that time that I said (aloud and to no one in particular) "I don't think that was about plates."  When I got home a few minutes later, we had a lovely discussion about how she was exhausted from having company at our house for the past week, and really didn't feel like making dinner, and just wanted to go out to eat.  While I still maintain that I expertly solved every problem she presented me with, perhaps by reading between the lines a bit I might have been able to help with what she really wanted.  But I digress...

Now that you know where you want the picture to go, and have verified that there aren't studs where you need them, go ahead and lightly mark the wall where the top and left edge of the picture will go.  Then measure the back of the frame in order to find out where the hanging hardware is in relation to the corner of the frame.  In this case it was about 1" down and 3" in.  Go back to the wall, find your previous lines, and using those as a guide, mark the location of your first hanger.  (If your frame is small enough that it only requires one hanger in the center, then you can ignore the next few steps.  Just mark the proper location for the single hanger, and resolve to come back next time with a man-sized frame.)

Yes, this is actually a picture of a pencil mark on the wall.  Bring on the Pulitzer!

Now comes a very important step.  After measuring the frame to find the distance between the hangers, use a level to help get the other center mark in the proper location.  "Don't have a level," you say?  Why didn't you pick one up while you were out getting the stud finder?  Think you can outsmart the system by just measuring up from the floor or down from the ceiling?  Think again.  There is a good chance that those aren't particularly level, and it will screw everything up.  "Wait a minute, the floors and ceiling aren't perfectly level," you say?  Probably not.  Why not?  Because they don't need to be.  As long as they aren't terrible, no one will notice.  A crooked picture hanging at eye level will get noticed, however, so quit asking questions, get out your level, and finish this step.
My level is 2 feet long, (a perfectly normal size!) but the holes needed to be 32 inches apart, so I used a yardstick to bridge the gap, and held the level against the yardstick.  I then measured over 32", and made the second mark at the proper point. 

The next step is to install the drywall anchors.  I included a picture of my favorite kind, although there are many similar styles and brands out there that will work just as well.  DO NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, use those terrible drywall anchors that you drill a hole first and then pound them in.  They are TERRIBLE!  They don't have as much holding power, and generally make a mess of the wall.  
These are very bad!

Don't look at me!  I'm hideous!
With this type, you first place the center point right on your mark..
These are the drywall anchors you want.

... and pound it in up to the threads.  Making a face like an old man with no teeth is optional.

Then grab a screwdriver and screw it in until the head is flush with the wall. 

You know how your mother always told you to wear clean underwear, in case you were in an accident and had to go to the hospital?  My grandfather always told me to keep my nose clean.  I never understood why, until now...

After installing both drywall anchors, it is time to put in the screws.  My favorite are Grip-Rite Gold Drywall Screws, but there are plenty of kinds that work just as well.  I have about half a dozen boxes of  assorted lengths, and I use them all the time for all sorts of projects.  Pretty much any time I need to attach something to the wall, I use these.

As you drive in the screw, the back of the drywall anchor will split with an audible "snap", locking the anchor in place.  Install both screws, leaving the head sticking out enough for the frame hanger to rest on, probably a little more than 1/8 inch.

All that's left is to grab the picture and hang it up.  If you did it right, it will be just where you wanted it, look nice and level, and not turn into one of those things that go bump in the night.  (Especially helpful if you hung it over your bed!)

There you have it.  You're all now experts.  Feel the awesome power as you survey your house, stud finder clenched in one fist and level in the other.  Go forth, attacking blank areas with reckless abandon, and transform your bleak beige walls into vast mosaics of well hung photographs.
Glitter and unicorns,   

(Well, really Mike)


Katie@a mom, a wife, and a me said...

Very imformative and well written... I enjoy cracking up while I read!! PS I do see how the old man face can help, and I didnt even notice the bald spot :)

michelle said...

Holy Craft, Mike! Who knew you were so witty? I liked the shot where we were looking up your nose :) So sexy!
Seriously - very well written and illustrated. Thanks for taking the time and entertaining us in the process. Family photos turned out awesome too.

Anonymous said...

Awesome way to welcome people into your home - keep visiting, Mike. Then I won't have to wait 12 months for your xmas newsletters!

Karima said...

Oh my gosh! I love this tutorial! So detailed and comical at the same time - definitely stumbling this post! Karima

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