Getting a new piece of wall art is always exciting. But sometimes, that excitement is replaced with frustration when it comes time to hang it on the wall. If your new art doesn’t have hangers, you need to first figure out which type of hanger to use. Next, make sure the hanger and the wall can support the weight, and then gather all the tools needed to hang it. Read on below to learn about the different types of hangers, how to secure them, and some tips to make the process easier.

Types of hangers

 There are many types of hangers you can use to display your wall art. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common.

Sawtooth hangers

These hangers are small metal brackets, that have ‘teeth’ cut into one or both sides of it. The ends are smooth and bent at 90 degrees; they are then driven into the frame (or secured with nails or screws). These small ‘legs’ at the end leave a small gap between the hanger teeth and the frame. The screws or nails in the wall rest between the teeth of the hanger. This secures the piece and doesn’t allow it to move side to side.
These types of hardware are most often found on framed art found at large retailers. Sawtooth hangers are relatively strong, but their strength depends on how they’re attached. They’ll be able to support less weight if they only have pointed ends and are hammered into the frame. A hanger that’s nailed or screwed into the frame will be able to hold more weight.
These are also easy to add yourself if your art doesn’t already have hangers. One drawback of these hangers is that they do protrude a little from the back of the art, leaving a small gap between the piece of art and the wall.


D-ring hangers are a thick metal wire that’s bent into a D-shape and then attached to a baseplate. The baseplate has holes which attach the hanger to the frame. The D-ring can swivel, allowing it to slip over the head of a screw or nail on the wall. Once hung, the D-ring will lay flat against the frame.
As with sawtooth hangers, D-rings will leave a small gap between the frame and the wall. Another thing to consider is the weight of your art piece. There are different sized D-ring hangers, which are rated for different weights.


Used in tandem with D-rings, wire is often used to hang art on the wall. To do this, a piece of steel wire is strung between the two D-rings and secured to each ring. Either one or two screws are attached to the wall, and the wire sits on top of the screws. The wire method of hanging allows easy adjusting to achieve level.

Drywall hooks

Unlike the other hangers we’ve talked about so far, drywall hooks mount to the wall, rather than the art piece. Drywall hooks are usually formed from a strip of metal. The metal is a u-shape and has holes where nails are used to attach it to the wall. The hanger on your art, or the frame itself rests in the valley of the u-shape on the hook.
A lot of drywall hooks have the nail holes angled, so that the nails have a slight downward angle on them in the wall. This helps add strength to the hanger and makes it easier to hammer in the nail. Unless the hook has a recessed area to lay in behind your art, this hook will also leave a small gap at the wall.


Keyhole hangers are one of my favorite hanging methods. Traditional keyhole hardware is a metal bracket, with a slot in the center, that is wider at one end. The screw in the wall slides into the wide end of the bracket, and the art is then slid down, so the screw head now sits in the narrow end of the slot. The head of the screw is now wider than the slot, which prevents the art piece from moving or falling off. These metal keyhole hangers can be mounted on the surface of your piece, or they can be recessed into the frame, which allows the art to lay flat against the wall.
Besides the metal hangers, keyholes can also be made into the frame of a piece, eliminating the need for extra hanging hardware. To do this, the manufacturer will use a router to cut a slot into the frame, which is the same wide-to-narrow shape as the metal hanger. This built-in slot has great strength since the screw rests within the frame material itself. Using this method, the art will sit flush against the wall, leaving no visible gap.


The last type of hanger to talk about is a cleat. A cleat hanger is made up of two long, metal brackets. One bracket attaches to the frame of the art piece, and the other attaches to the wall. The bottom of the frame bracket is bent slightly away from the frame, and the top of the wall bracket is slightly bent away from the wall. The bottom of the frame bracket rests in the top opening of the wall bracket.
This type of hanger is good for heavy items, since it can be secured to the wall in many locations, along the length of the bracket. If not recessed into the frame, cleats can also leave a small gap between the wall and the art piece.

Hanging considerations

When deciding where and how to hang an art piece, there are some important considerations. First, consider the construction and materials of your wall. Next, determine how the art piece is built, and the weight of the piece. Also, make sure that the types of hangers on the piece are sufficient for the weight. They should also be attached in a strong location of the frame and not too close to an edge or corner.
If the piece being hung is heavy, it’s best to secure the wall hanger to a stud. This way, the art is secured to a solid piece of wood, rather than drywall or plaster alone.
If a stud isn’t needed, then almost any of the above hangers will work for drywall surfaces. Just be sure to use a plastic anchor in the drywall, before inserting the screw. The anchor will expand behind the drywall when the screw in inserted, giving extra strength and support.
Most homes older than the 1950s will have plaster walls. If you have this, your hanger choices are more limited. If you can secure the wall hanger in a stud, this is the best option. A long cleat can help span two studs and make it easier to hang a large piece.
If you can’t find a stud or there’s no stud in the ideal location, the best hanger I’ve found is the drywall hooks. If you find that the plaster breaks when hammering in the nails, drill small pilot holes first and cover the wall with tape while drilling. This will help reduce breaking. The angled nails and large surface area against the wall help to securely hang even large pieces on plaster walls.

Hanging tips

When hanging a new piece of art, it’s important for it to be level. While a traditional level (historically called liquor sticks) can be helpful, a laser level makes the job easier; especially if you have a lot of pieces to hang. You can set up the laser level to shine a laser line across the room, so you can quickly hang all your pieces at the same height and perfectly level.
With smaller pieces, a piece of painter’s tape or masking tape can be helpful. Simply put a piece of tape across the back of your piece and mark the holes or hangers on the tape. Carefully remove the tape and stick it to the wall where you want to hang the art piece (don’t forget to check level!). Drill the holes on the marks and hang your piece.
If dust is a concern when drilling holes in the wall, stick a post-it note underneath the drilling location and fold it in half horizontally. This creates a small valley which catches most of the dust. When you’re finished drilling, peel off the post-it and throw it away!
If you need custom framing for any of your artwork, reach out to us. We’d be glad to discuss your custom woodworking project today!


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