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The Ultimate Guide on How to Hang Pictures and Wall Decor on Drywall

  • by Arthur Harrison
  • 5 min read

When it comes to hanging your special art pieces, memorable family photos, or wall decor on drywall and plaster walls, having the right picture hangers is essential. This high-quality hardware not only makes sure your frames and decor hang securely in place but also help preserve the condition of your walls.

In this article, we’ll focus on several picture hanging hardware products specifically for drywall, and guide you on how to install these products preparing them for use. 

Understanding Drywall 

Before we delve into picture hangers and hardware, it's important to understand the surfaces you'll be working with. Drywall, also known as gypsum board, is a common wall material in modern construction often used in North America, as an alternative to plaster and lath.

Behind the drywall board, there are wood studs spaced out 16-24 inches apart. They are there for structural framing, partitioning, and for carrying loads. Since these studs are made of thick wood or metal, they can serve as additional holding power when you install screws and wall hooks on the wall.

Plaster and drywall are two common wall types and they’re often confused with one another. Did you know that there are ways to tell the difference between them? Discover these 5 steps in our article: 5 Ways to Know If You Have a Plaster Wall or Drywall

Now that we know a little more about drywall, let’s talk about how to install frames and wall decor.

4 Bonus Tips When Installing Frames or Decor on Drywall

Drywall is easy to work with. However, due to its light material composition, there are some extra precautionary measures that we can take to ensure the support is as strong and secure as we want it to be.

Here are four pro tips to keep in mind when installing something on your drywall:

Locate Wall Studs
As mentioned earlier, anchor your hangers and hardware into wall studs whenever possible. Doing so provides the strongest support and ensures that your frames and wall decor hang securely.

Use a Wall Anchor

Another way to add support to picture hangers installed on drywall is to use wall anchors. These are fasteners that are either made of plastic or metal, and function as a grip between the drywall and the screw or hook being used.

Check out this video tutorial by HomeSteady so you can see how to hang a heavy painting on drywall. It also features the use of a wall anchor.

Recommended Wall Anchors for you:

By using a wall anchor, you increase the security and support of your picture hangers when you hang picture frames, art, mirrors, and other decorative items on the wall.

Use a Level
To ensure your wall decor hangs straight, use a level when installing hangers or hooks. Walls that look perfectly level leave a great impression on your guests and make a striking statement.

Weight Considerations
Choose a suitable hanger for your application. Always consider the weight of the item you're hanging and choose hardware that can support it safely. As a rule of thumb, it’s advisable to choose a picture hanger with a weight rating that is 1-3 times the weight of the picture frame, mirror, or wall decor.

Speaking of choosing the right hangers, check out our product recommendations for hanging items on drywall in the next section!

A woman hanging a picture frame on the wall

Choosing the Right Picture Hangers

Now we can’t stress this enough, but choosing the right picture hangers and wall hooks is essential to secure picture hanging. Using suitable hardware for specific frames, walls, and with the correct weight rating allows you to be sure that your frames are hung safely for a long time.

Here are five picture hanging hardware we recommend.

Traditional Nails and Hooks

Traditional nails and wall hooks are suitable for lightweight frames and decor. They are easy to install and provide the best support for items weighing 30 lbs. to 100 lbs. 

Our Brass Hooks and Nickel Hooks are perfect for easy and no-fuss picture hanging installations on drywall. They come in three varieties and are easy to tell apart based on the number of nails (Brass Hooks) or the size of the hook (Nickel Hooks).

In the case of Brass Hooks, here's the breakdown: the 30 lb Hook comes with 1 nail, the 50 lb Hook includes 2 nails, and the 100 lb Hook provides 3 nails for installation.

Three types of Brass Hooks

On the other hand, Nickel Hooks come with only one nail for all versions. However, it's worth noting that the 100 lb Hook is slightly larger in size compared to the 30 lb and 50 lb Hooks, which share the same dimensions.

Three Types of Nickel Hooks

Screw-in Picture Hangers

For medium-weight items, consider using screw-in hangers. These products provide more stability and are ideal for larger frames or mirrors. One thing to remember about screw-in hangers though, are to locate wall studs for added support.

For this category, our Steel 30 lb Utility Hooks and French Cleats are the most ideal products to use. Let’s get into them, shall we?

The Steel Utility Hooks can be used for many different applications. For this particular hook, screws are sold separately to give users the freedom to choose the type of screw they want to use. In this case, we recommend using Wall Dog Screws.

Steel Utility 30lbs Hooks

On the other hand, French Cleats have more weight and size options compared to the Steel Utility Hook. We offer a wide variety of cleat lengths with different weight ratings that can support small, medium, and heavy items on the wall.

Cleat sizes start at 3 inches and go up to 90 inches, and have weight ratings supporting 15 lbs up to 700 lbs (the aluminum cleat supports 100 pounds per linear foot).

Out of the 11 size options to choose from, you might notice that not all cleats look the same. In the illustration above, you will see that some cleats have diagonal or straight sides. These are called cleat profiles.

You have three choices: Z-bar, light cleats, and flare cleats. What sets them apart is the wall standoff measurement, indicating the distance between the cleats and the wall. Know all about French cleat profiles and more from this article: What is a French Cleat Hanger and Why You Need Them.

Bonus Product Recommendation: Bear Claw Screws

This specific product recommendation is not a screw-in hanger per se, but rather a screw with a neck: Bear Claw Screws. You install it through the drywall using a screwdriver and that’s it. 

Bear Claw Screws have a weight rating of 30 lbs without an anchor on the drywall, and 100 lbs when installed on a wood stud. That’s a huge jump in weight capacity, which emphasizes the advantage of using additional support as much as possible!

Bear Claw Screws

If you’re not very familiar with Bear Claw Screws, they are the best option for frames with D-rings or picture wire at the back. They can also be used to hang items with keyholes at the back like wall clocks. D-rings, picture wire, and keyholes are common options for many wall decorations, which is why Bear Claw Screws are quite popular and the most preferred by our customers.

Adhesive Hooks and Picture Hangers

Adhesive hooks are a great option for lightweight decor and are easy to remove without causing damage. They are ideal for lightweight items and temporary displays or seasonal decorations. Overall, adhesive Hooks are popular, but most particularly within the community of renters, as these sticky wall hooks follow the no-damage conditions of most landlords.

Adhesive Wall Hangers

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, choosing the right picture hangers and hardware for your drywall is crucial to ensure your wall decor is both securely mounted and visually appealing. With the right tools, you can confidently display your cherished artwork and decorations, enhancing the beauty of your living space while preserving the integrity of your walls.

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