For safe hanging, paintings need to be secure in their frames and each frame needs to be securely hung from two points in the wall, with a hanging device attached to two points on the frame.
Paintings of different size and weight may require different hanging systems, but if you think sensibly about the problems that may arise when you are hanging a particular work, most problems can be averted.
There are two main principles to keep in mind when hanging a painting:
- the work should be properly supported for its weight; and
- there should be no stresses on any part of the hanging system or the painting.
Some basic principles to keep in mind are:
Use materials which will not rust. For example, you should use nickel-plated screws, brass or nickel-plated screw eyes or D-rings, and non-rusting multi-strand wire if you are using wire. If you use materials which rust, they will lose strength when they rust and your paintings will be at risk.
Ensure that the wall into which the hanging system is secured is stable and structurally sound. If possible hang works from a well secured picture rail. If this is not available, make sure that you attach the plugs or secure hooks with toggle bolts into the studs in the wall structure.
Ensure that stresses are evenly distributed across the work. If the work is large, use a shelf to take the weight.
Do not hang the painting from one point, because this will create stress across the back of the frame, weakening corners and opening mitres. On an ornate frame this may result in loss of decoration.
For a light- to medium-sized framed painting:
- the work should be hung from two separate points on the wall, with the hanging device attached to two points on the back of the frame;
- the hanging devices should be strong enough to take the weight of the work without becoming stressed or warped; and
- if you are using hanging wire, ensure that it is not crimped as this will be a weak point.
For hanging a heavy work:
- use a shelf to evenly distribute the weight along the bottom of the work, and use the hanging devices to secure the work against the wall; and
- if necessary provide four or more hanging devices, such as mirror plates screwed to the frame and then into secure sections of the wall.
Hanging devices need to be strong and rust-proof. D-rings are preferable to screw eyes because they are less likely to snap and are not weakened by the screwing process.
Mirror plates are another secure method of hanging paintings.
OZ Clips are useful for large works with thin frames, particularly those which are kept in travelling frames.
There is also a range of security screws which can be used when a painting requires protection against theft.
For more information see Paintings.