How to Hang Canvas Paintings on a Wall

Before an image is painted on it, a canvas is stretched over a bare wooden frame of four bars (stretchers). Next, the canvas is coated with multiple layers of an acrylic paint known as gesso. As the gesso dries, the canvas shrinks and tightens on the stretchers, creating a flexible surface for the paint. Once the painting is finished, a canvas may be hung on the walls with or without a frame, because the stretchers allow the painting to maintain its shape. If you've painted a canvas, no doubt you will want to hang the canvas on your walls. The process is not difficult, but does require some special tools.

Purchase a picture-hanging-wire kit. These kits are available at art stores and home improvement stores. They come in categories by weight, so you'll need to weigh the canvas before buying the kit. The kit should come with eyehooks and wire.

Screw the eyehooks into the inside of the stretcher bars on the back of the canvas, approximately one-third of the way from the top of the canvas. The eyehooks should be horizontally level with each other.

Cut a length of wire longer than the distance between the two eyehooks. The length of wire should be approximately 30 per cent longer than the distance between the eyehooks.

Thread the wire between the two hooks so that equal amounts of wire stick out through both ends.

Fold over the extra wire on both sides over the eyehook and wrap it around and around the stretch of wire between the two eyehooks. This will hold the wire in place. The wire between the two eyehooks should be somewhat slack, but not so slack that if the picture is hung from the wire, the wire itself will touch or rise above the top stretcher bar of the canvas.

Place the canvas on the wall where you'd like to see it hung, then gently slide your dominant hand behind the canvas while your other hand holds the canvas in place. With your dominant hand, find the wire behind the canvas and gently lower the canvas until the wire is hanging from your hand. Reposition the canvas on the wall to the place where you'd like it to hang by repositioning the hand from which the frame hangs. When the canvas is in place, remove the canvas and place it on the floor, but keep your dominant hand on the wall where it held the canvas. With a pencil, make a tic mark on the wall where your hand is. This is where the nail should go.

Select a nail appropriate for the size of the canvas. The nail should be long enough to hold the picture, but not so long that it touches the back of the canvas. 1 to 1.5 inches is long enough.

Hammer the nail into place over the tic mark.

Hang the canvas on the nail. If you're having trouble looping the wire over the nail, put your dominant hand behind the canvas and pull the wire outward until it drapes over the nail, then ease the painting down slowly and extract your hand. Don't let go of the painting until you're sure it's hanging on the nail.

Touch the canvas in the approximate area of the nail. Feel for any spots where the nail might be touching the back of the canvas. If the nail is left to touch the canvas for a long period, it will stretch the canvas in that area and warp the shape of the painting.

If the nail is touching the back of the canvas, slide the canvas forward or take the canvas off and hammer the nail farther into the wall, then hang the canvas from the nail once again.

Lay a level on the painting and adjust the painting so that the bubble on the level is in the exact centre.


Special nail kits designed to hold extra heavy canvases and other extra heavy items can be purchased from home improvement stores. Alternatively, drilling a screw into a stud will serve the same purpose. If you hit a stud with a nail (you'll know by the way the hammer seems to bounce off the nail without actually banging the nail any further in), you'll need to remove the nail and drill a screw into place instead. If you have no drill, a stud finder will help you avoid studs. Stud finders are available at home improvement stores. Some paint will fade in direct sunlight. Avoid hanging a painting in any place where it will be exposed to long periods of sun. Very small canvases may not have enough space between stretcher bars for picture hanging wire. In this case, either hang the canvas by the stretcher directly, or purchase sawtooth picture hangers, designed specifically for small canvases.

Things You'll Need

  • Picture-hanging-wire kit
  • Pencil
  • Nail
  • Hammer
  • Stud finder
  • Level
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About the Author

Leslie Rose has been a freelance writer publishing with Demand Studios since 2008. In addition to her work as a writer, she is an accomplished painter and experienced art teacher. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in art with a minor in English.