He's a veteran remodeling contractor, host of "Today's Homeowner" (7 p.m. Fridays, WLS-DT2 TV) and home expert on The Weather Channel.
And, yes, Danny Lipford knows how to hang pictures right -- the first time. It was his topic-du-jour in a recent issue of Lipford's online newsletter.
We gathered some of his nuts-and-bolts tips and got a few more from Chicago art dealer Kate Hendrickson, who also knows her way around a hammer and nails.
It takes two: Deciding where to hang artwork is a two-person job, Lipford says. Someone must hold the artwork against the wall. Someone must ponder it.
Some of the Lipford's ponderables:
1. The center of the picture should be at eye level, which is approximately 60 inches from the floor, Lipford says.
(Hendrickson says people tend to hang pictures "way too high." If you're someone who can't deal with tape measures and numbers and you're about 5 foot 6 inches tall [or know someone who can stand in for you], simply lift the picture up onto the wall so that your eye level is at mid-canvas. Then bring the picture down just "a scooch." That will be the perfect height.
Hendrickson also reminds people that walls and floors aren't always level, which means tape measures aren't always your best friend. Sometimes, eyeballing it works better than an official measure.)
2. Leave at least a 3- to 6-inch gap between the top of a sofa and the bottom of the picture frame and 4 to 8 inches from a tabletop.
3. A grouping of pictures should be treated as a single unit or composition. Make paper templates of each piece and tape those templates to the wall using painter's tape. Rearrange to your heart's desire.
(Hendrickson recommends playing with your actual artwork on the floor, in front of the wall you will be hanging on. "After I have the thing laid out, I make a little sketch" of it, says Hendrickson. She then numbers all her artwork with Post-it notes and assigns those numbers to their position in her diagram. By doing this, you have your original composition recorded -- as you proceed to the fiddling around stage. "I find that usually whatever I worked out first -- with minor changes -- is usually what turns out to be the best resolve." With the diagram recorded, it's easy to get back to that first layout.)
4. Center the picture or grouping across the wall or over a piece of furniture.
5. If you have a piece of artwork that weighs more than 25 pounds, your choice of locations becomes a bit limited. You need to attach the artwork to a stud. Use a stud finder to locate wall studs and mark their location with Post-it notes or painter's tape.
Measuring and making your mark
1. While holding the picture in place where you want it on the wall, put a strip of painter's tape on the wall, making the bottom edge of the tape even with the top of the frame, says Lipford in his newsletter. Mark each end of the frame on the tape. Then remove the picture from the wall.
2. If the picture will use only one wall hanger, you want to place that hanger at center-of-frame. Measure the width of the frame and divide by two. Then measure this distance in from the marks on the painter's tape.
Now turn the picture over and measure from the top of the frame to the point the picture will hang. If the picture has hanging wire, hook the metal end of a tape measure under the center of the wire. Pull up until the wire is taut and measure up to the top of the frame. If the picture has D-rings or sawtooth hangers, hook the tape over the top of the frame and measure down to the ring or hanger.
Then transfer that number into a hanging location on the wall by measuring down from the bottom edge of the painter's tape, at the center point. Use a level to make sure your new mark is plumb with the mark on the painter's tape.
3. For added stability on wide frames (24 inches or wider), you will want to use two wall hangers that are equidistant from the center point of the picture. Find the center point of the frame and mark that distance on your painter's tape.
You want to place 6 to 8 inches between the two hangers. So now, measure 3 to 4 inches from either side of that center point and mark them on the painter's tape as well.
Now, turn the picture over. Using two fingers, pull up on the wire at both hanging points simultaneously. Then, with the metal end of a tape measure hooked under the wire at the center point, measure up to the top of the frame.
Transfer that number onto the wall by measuring down from the bottom edge of the painter's tape, at your two hanging points. Use a small level to make sure your new marks are plumb with the marks on the painter's tape.
* For most jobs, use a simple hanging kit (includes a J-hook and nail). The wire on the back of the picture will hang from it. Hanging kits are generally sold according to the weight of the artwork. To find that weight, weigh yourself on a bathroom scale while holding the picture and then subtract your weight from it.
* But do consider adhesive picture hanging strips (such as 3M's Command Picture Hanging Strips) for normal-size pictures, Lipford says. They leave no holes in the wall and are easy to remove without damage to walls.
* "If the hanging hardware will attach to a wall stud or solid wood paneling, just about any hanger suitable for the frame and rated for the weight of the picture will do," Lipford says. If the picture weighs 25 pounds or more and a stud isn't present, use a wall anchor on drywall or plaster walls, Lipford says. "Self-tapping threaded anchors are suitable for attaching all but the heaviest pictures to drywall. Anchors that spread out behind the wall -- such as toggle or molly bolts -- provide the most holding power and help keep plaster from cracking."
* Remember that the spot marked on the wall and the location you attach the hanger may differ since the hook often extends down from the nail or screw that holds it. "To make sure you get it right, position the lowest point of the hook at the mark before attaching the hardware to the wall."
* You can nail or screw directly into drywall. But in plaster, always drill a pilot hole first ("a hole that's slightly smaller than the size of the nail or screw you would be using") to prevent cracking, Lipford says. "Brick and concrete walls require drilling a hole with a special masonry bit then either hammering in a masonry nail or using a plastic anchor and screw."
For more information on picturing hanging and/or to sign up for his monthly online newsletter, visit dannylipford.com.
See also "The artful hang-up / It doesn't always take fine art to make walls look better than fine," Home & Garden section, Page 1