The Three Rules Of Picture And Mirror Hanging

In more than 25 years (as of this writing) of framing and hanging pictures and heavy mirrors, I’ve learned quite a lot about what works and what doesn’t work. There are some common factors which pertain to nearly all art and mirror installation, which really boil down to just three rules:

1 – Use adequate hardware, correctly

2 – Use 2 hooks

3 – Measure everything

The first is actually 2 rules combined, and seems pretty self-explanatory, but you might be surprised how often the hardware used to hang pictures and mirrors in homes and offices is inadequate, or improperly used. This is often NOT YOUR FAULT. Many times those pieces are made in their workshops and factories with screws too short to bite deeply enough in the backs of the frames, for example, or d-rings (with or without wire) which aren’t strong enough to support the weight of a heavy mirror, or which are attached in a way which compromises them. And I often see hooks or other wall hardware included with the pictures and mirrors which just aren’t strong enough. Here is an example.

On the second rule, there are two reasons for using 2 hooks (or other hanging hardware): two hooks will support more weight than one, and two hooks (spaced apart) will keep the picture or mirror from “pivoting” on the wall over time due to vibrations or being accidentally “pushed”.

And the third rule: Just measure it. The human eye and brain are amazing constructs, and can do miraculous things, but “eyeballing it” generally just doesn’t work when you’re trying to be precise. Additionally, if the hardware on one side of the back of the picture is at a different height than the hardware on the other side, then the center (of gravity) of the picture will be in a different place from where you would assume it is. So measure to be sure those two pieces of hardware are at the same height, and measure the height of the wire, at the width you intend the hooks to be apart, and you’ll wind up with the exact place where your hooks should be attached to the wall.

There’s a great quote from Marvin Minsky: “You don’t understand anything until you learn it in more than one way.”

Hopefully this helps you to understand picture and mirror hanging in a new way. If you’d like to see examples of installations we’ve done, click this link.

Every day is a good day!