There are three types of people in this world:
- those who know how to hang art properly
- those who don’t know how to hang art but do it anyway
- those who are too afraid to try
Luckily for individuals in the latter two categories, improving your art-hanging game is simpler than you might think. By following a few easy tips, you can start hanging canvas paintings, prints, and photos like an expert.
From choosing the right space to display canvas art, to deciding whether or not you want to use picture frames, to the ideal display height, to the benefits of eye hooks over hanging wire: here is everything you need to know about hanging and displaying canvases.
Pick a layout for hanging your artwork
The first step to hanging canvas art or photo photo prints is to understand what you’re trying to achieve.
Are you hanging a single giant canvas print, or a piece of art split onto series of canvas panels? Do you want a structured grid design, or something a bit more whimsical? Do you want to mix other decorative pieces, such as hooks, mirrors, or shelves into your design? Or do you want to let the canvas artwork stand on its own?
Start doing some research online or in magazines and catalogs to see what appeals to you. If you see a picture arrangement you like at a friend’s home, in a local gallery, or in your favorite coffee shop, take a photo for reference.
Choose a space for your canvas print
Now that you know the look you’re trying to achieve with your canvas print, you need to choose a space to hang it.
The wall space at the head of a bed, above couches, or behind a desk is a natural choice for a single large canvas.
If you’re hanging a series of large canvas panels, you can either hang them in a perfect row, or stagger them. Following the elevation of stairs is a great way to hang canvases and introduce a dynamic feel to a space.
Meanwhile, small and medium pieces can be assembled into larger designs or hung individually throughout a room.
Framed vs. unframed canvas
Whether or not you frame your canvas print is a matter of personal taste.
Canvas paintings and photo prints that have been stretched over a wooden mount are especially easy to hang without a frame. Stretch mounted canvas has a finished look all on its own that makes the print immediately ready for display.
However, if desired, stretch mounted canvas pieces can be surrounded by a molding or wood frame. Frames have the advantage of giving you the option to put the print behind glass. This can bring an additional level of sophistication, and furthermore protects the canvas print from UV rays.
If your canvas print hasn’t been stretch mounted, you could still hang it without a frame using clips. Unmounted prints can also be framed like traditional photos, or slid into glass inlays that offer protection against the elements without sacrificing that minimalist, free-floating look.
Canvas hanging tools and methods
We recommend hanging your print either with sawtooth hangers or D-rings affixed to the back of the canvas, or with eye hooks affixed to the top of the canvas. All of these items can be purchased at your local hardware store.
We do not recommend simply hammering a few nails or nail hooks into the drywall and suspending your canvas print from them by the stretcher-bar. Nails and nail hooks should be used in combination with real picture hangers for added security.
Wire hangings are great for attaching to eye hooks or D-rings and suspending the artwork from the ceiling, but we do not recommend displaying your canvas print by a hanging single wire from the back. Hanging wires often lead to crooked pictures and are prone to falling, especially if the print is heavy or if you live in an earthquake zone. Furthermore, hanging wires can distort the frame of a canvas print.
Aside from the actual hanging equipment, the following tools will come in handy for hanging your canvas print:
- measuring tape
- tissue paper
- masking tape
Height, width, and spacing considerations
One of the biggest mistakes people make is hanging photos, artwork, posters, or prints, is putting them too high on the wall. In general, the center of the piece should be at eye level, which is between 57 and 60 inches from the floor. When planning a gallery wall design, make sure the largest pieces are placed at eye level and arrange the smaller ones around them.
You should also make sure the bottom edge of an individual piece or larger design is around 6 to 10 inches above the furniture you are hanging it over. As for finding wall space with enough width, photo displays should take up roughly one-half to two-thirds the width of any furniture it is placed over. If the art is so big that you can’t follow these guidelines, it might be too large for the space.
If the art is so small that it’s dwarfed by your furniture, then you’ll want to adjust to find big enough art. It’s all about the balance.
For spacing between frames, put approximately two inches between larger pieces and as little as a half-inch between smaller pieces. If the canvas prints are too far apart from one another, they won’t look like they belong together.
Map it out
To make sure you have the perfect layout for hanging multiple canvas prints, spread all of your artwork out on the floor and start making patterns. You can start in the middle and work your way out.
If you want a symmetrical design for a small number of pieces, go right ahead. However, don’t be afraid to embrace irregular patterns for larger groupings of art. Loosely-shaped ovals, clouds, and triangles can add charm and personality to your living space. Just follow the general measuring rules listed above and play around with patterns until you like what you see.
Once you have a preferred design, trace the outline of each canvas print onto tissue paper and cut them out. You can then use your tape measure to find the correct eye-level height for the centerpiece of artwork and tape the cutouts to the wall. Rearrange them until you feel your inner artist smile. Then use a spirit level to ensure that traced lines are even.
Time to hang your canvas print
Now comes the moment you commit to your design and start hanging your canvas prints. Use your measuring tape and some pencil marks to determine where each picture-hanging hook should go on the paper cutouts. Hammer the hooks into the wall through the mark in the paper, tear the paper away and hang your picture. Again, use a spirit level to ensure that your canvas print is hanging in a straight line.
Once your canvas print is up and hanging evenly, you can bask in the glory of your accomplishment. You’re now a pro!
Other tips design tips for displaying canvas prints, photos, and artwork:
- Some pieces, such as retro posters or maps, can look especially cool when hung without frames. Just use binder clips with clear thumbtacks.
- For a more casual look, place artwork on a chair, a shelf or even on the floor and simply lean it against the wall.
- Use a picture rail to achieve easy elegance.
- Put smaller pieces on picture stands and arrange them on coffee tables, nightstands or bookshelves.
- Don’t be afraid to break some rules. If it looks good, do it. Trust your instincts.