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How to Hang a Painting and Do It Right!
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How to Hang a Painting and Do It Right!

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Hanging framed items correctly could mean avoiding disaster. See what happened to this $25K painting.

Hanging framed items correctly could mean avoiding disaster. See what happened to this $25K painting.

Published in: Design

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  • 1. How to Hang a Painting and Do It Right.By Chelsea Padgett, Guest Blogger and FACL InternIntro note from Scott M. Haskins: First of all an apology. I know you have hung a ton of framedartwork. Maybe your office or house is full of celebrity photo ops, sports memorabilia, certificatesand diplomas, paintings or very cool textiles in Plexiglas box frames. I’m sorry if you have rolledyour eyes and are thinking, “I learned how to do this when I was a teenager”! We have not meanttoo offend you. But I am in the houses of really smart people ALL THE TIME… weekly… andattorneys, doctors, gallery directors, interior decorators, and maybe a nuclear physicist all hang their treasured memorabiliaand valuable artwork precariously, weakly and with no thought that they live in a zone of high risk for natural disasters.Do you have framed artwork and paintings hanging on your walls? It could be a painting worththousands of dollars or a certificate from grad school. It could be at home or in the office. Either way, itis valuable or important to you and should be hung properly so it that it will not be the victim of the nextearthquake, hurricane or party. Hundreds or thousands of dollars in repair to either the artwork or theframe can be easily prevented if you implement the following the guidelines in this article. Besides,YOU are the curator!There is a “system” for hanging something on the wall so it won’t easily fall off. These tips come fromthe book, How To Save Your Stuff from a Disaster, available on Amazon (CLICK HERE)Remember, that in this system, the weakest link is what will give away and your framed item will comecrashing to the floor like the $20,000.00 painting by Manuel Valencia in the photo above (accept it camecrashing down onto an end table with a lamp and collectibles on it). Consider putting the best qualityand strength item available (doesn’t cost that much more!) for everything on this list: 1. wire attachment hardware on artwork or frame 2. hanging wire 3. hanging hook on the wall 4. utilize Museum Wax to anchor and secure to the wall.
  • 2. Let’s talk briefly about each item on this list.Wire attachment hardware on artwork or frame – picture hangersI hate eye hole screws. With time they wobble, they bend and worktheir way loose. I see frames with old eye screws that are on theverge of falling off ALL THE TIME. People often underestimatethe size they should use and the weight of the artwork pulls/distortsthe eye screw. They rust and they make the old wire rust and fray.There are picture hangers that have a better design and requiremore than one screw to attach it to the frame (multiple attachmentsmeans greater safety). Here’s a photo of several sizes. The ONLYtime I would use a single hole picture hanger is when I’m hanginga super light item that has a super thin frame.And additional tip: if you have room to incline the picture hanger to be the same angle as the hangingwire, it puts less stress on the wire. On big heavy paintings I even use two of these biggest hangerstogether on each side of the frame. BE CAREFUL: make sure your mounting screws don’t go throughthe front of your frame!There are two or maybe three types of hooks you should use: a. the brass one – made for plaster wall board; three nails spread into the plaster for a more secure hold; I always use the biggest 100 lb hook no matter how small the item is I’m hanging; use pliers to close the hook so the opening is barely open enough to get the wire in (so it won’t “jump” out as easy when the wall shakes); when I hang big heavy items I use two or three of these even though the item may not be 200 lbs (the important thing is that the hooks won’t pull out of the wall). b. the silver one – made for nailing into wood walls or a stud in the wall; needs one big nail; I always use the biggest 100 lb hook no matter how small the item is I’m hanging; use pliers to close the hook so the opening is barely open enough to get the wire in (so it won’t “jump” out as easy when the wall shakes); when I hang big heavy items I use two or three of these even though the item may not be 200 lbs (the important thing is that the hooks won’t pull out of the wall). c. There is a new plastic earthquake proof hook available on the market where the hanging wire can’t jump out, but if the nail pulls out of the wall then…The Hanging WireOld wire is under-designed. The new wires areanodized which makes them about 10 x stronger
  • 3. than the old wires. Also, they are coated with an archival resistant plastic, which keeps the wire moisturefree. One quality we like from United Manufacturing is called Framewire plastic coated hanging wire.Once again, I always overdesign and use an extra heavy wire that seems ridiculous. On big paintings, I’lldouble or triple up. That’s a 1000 lbs of test strength for a 35 lbs painting in a frame!Use an anchor wax – Museum Wax Another great collection care tip is to anchor your framed artwork to the wall on the lower two corners. This will keep the artwork from jumping out of the hook if the building begins to shake and, more commonly, it will keep your frames from moving skeewampus on the wall and will keep you from having to “straighten” your hung frames. Remember, the weakest link in the chain is the one thatbreaks and causes the damage. These 4 parts ALL NEED TO BE REMEMBERED for hanging apainting on the wall in the most secure way: Quality and large picture hangers with more than 1 screw that hold the wire. Thick wire, plastic coated Nail in wall hits a stud. If not, use a multi nail hanger made for drywall. Use the largest hanging hook possible Use Museum Wax in the lower two corners to anchor the painting against the wall and so it won’t “jump” off the hook when things start to shake.“Overkill” is the operative word here. Remember, you are designing this to withstand an earthquake…or your grandkids! You do the math; be a good curator of your collection or file an insurance claim for$4,500.00 (deductible?) to repair the damage to look perfect again… and still have a reduction in value.There is a “system” for hanging something on the wall so it won’t easily fall off. These tips come fromthe book, How To Save Your Stuff from a Disaster, available on Amazon (CLICK HERE)Museum Wax is available at http://tipsforfineartcollectors.org/museum-wax-package/ Check on YouTube – Search “Hang a Picture” (or painting) and you’ll get over 100 videos on how to do this… use the info in this article to see if they know what they are talking about!! Best wishes with your collecting!
  • 4. Other collection care articles and videos you may be interested in: storage problems, http://saveyourstuffblog.com/damaged-art/poor-storaged-causes- damaged-paintings/ taking precautions when shipping, http://www.saveyourstuff.com/blog/save-your- stuff/do-you-pack-and-ship-art-work-and-fragile-items/ aging and falling apart, http://saveyourstuffblog.com/water-damage/liquid-stain-on- lithograph-of-a-woman-by-henri-matisse/ floods and landslides, http://saveyourstuffblog.com/water-damage/plains-indians- encampment-water-damage-in-garage/ fires, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lCx-xg4BMY More about having good hanging hardware on paintings and using Museum Wax to anchor the painting to the wall. http://saveyourstuffblog.com/earthquake/538/Art conservation questions: Call Scott at 805 564 3438Art appraisal questions? Call Richard at 805 895 5121 Follow us on Facebook at Fine Art Conservation Scott M. Haskins Save Your Stuff Tips for Art Collectors