Hanging Pictures

There are several ways to ensure that your pictures and other wall decorations are level:

Use an Adapted Level

  • You can use an audible level that emits different tones and beeps to indicate whether a picture (or any other household item) is level. It makes a high-pitched sound when the left side is higher, a lower-pitched sound when the right side is higher, and is silent when the picture is level.
  • If you have low vision, you can try using a lighted level with lighted vials that allow work in dark and low-light environments.

Use Everyday Materials

  • You can also use a homemade measure, such as a broom handle, yardstick, or piece of string, to ensure that your picture is hanging level on the wall.
  • If you use string: Measure from the bottom corner on one side of the picture to the floor and then from the other bottom corner to the floor. To use the string technique, knot the string, attach it to one bottom corner with tape or to the wall with a pushpin, and measure the distance from the corner to the floor. Repeat this technique on the other side of the picture. When both measurements are the same, you will know the picture is level.
  • If you use a broom or yardstick: Measure from the ceiling, since that may be the shorter distance. Measure from one top corner of the picture to the ceiling and then from the other top corner to the ceiling. When both measurements are the same, you will know the picture is level.

Additional Picture Hanging Tips and Adaptations

The following tips and techniques are adapted from Fred’s Head Blog at the American Printing House for the Blind.

  • Place a small dab of toothpaste (preferably white) on the picture hanger wire. Position the picture on the wall and push on the hanger wire so that the dab of toothpaste transfers to, and remains on, the wall. This will mark the spot to hammer your nail or picture hanger.
  • To hang a picture that requires multiple nails, lay a strip of masking tape along the back of the frame. Make holes in the tape to mark where you want the nails to go. Then pull the tape off and stick it to the wall. The holes in the masking tape will mark the spots to hammer your nails or picture hangers.
  • Always hang heavier pictures or mirrors from wall studs that will support their weight. Use a stud finder that makes an audible sound (usually a beep) and lights up when it locates a wall stud.
  • If you don’t have a stud finder, you can run an electric razor over the wall. The sound of the razor will change when it vibrates over the stud.

For additional work preparation and safety tips, see Home Repairs Safety and Preparation Checklist and Safety Tips and Techniques for Using a Hammer.