10 Steps for a No-Fail Gallery Wall

A gallery wall in my opinion is the best, and most creative way to showcase things you love. It can be composed of photos of family and friends, quotes, and actual pieces of art. They can be framed, canvas, or just raw material. Any kind of wall art can be arranged into a gallery and it is so simple. The number one thing to remember is there is no right or wrong way to hang a gallery wall so even if you think you are not artistic, or particularly handy this is not rocket science. You chose what you want to include and how you want to arrange things. Simple as that! Here are my tips and an easy step by step explanation of how to hang a level, sturdy gallery wall. dsc_0441

Supplies you will need: 

  • Photos and/or artwork you want to arrange
  • Poster board (color does not matter) or a large paper that you can trace the artwork on
  • A Sharpie
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Painters tape
  • Large and small level (at least a 2 ft. level)
  • Hammer
  • Nails or hooks (You may need a molly bolt for heavy artwork)
  • Museum wax

Step #1:

Lay your artwork on the poster board and outline it using the Sharpie.


Step #2: 

Cut the outlines out and lay them on the corresponding piece of artwork.

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As you can see I had to use a couple different pieces of paper and tape them together to get the shape of the long photo. The outlines don’t have to be pretty, but you want them to accurately reflect the shape of the artwork.

Step #3:

Flip the artwork or frame over so you can see where the hooks or sawtooth hangers are on the back. Every frame is different. Once you have located the frame hanging mechanism line your outline of the artwork up with the frame. Use your fingers to feel where the hooks, holes or hangers are and mark exactly where the hook is located. See below – (I should have used a different color Sharpie than black so it was easier to see, but it is the only color I had. Don’t worry about it not being different, because the outlines will be ripped off and recycled when done. As long as you can see the markings that is all that matters.) Do this for each piece of artwork.


Step #4

Using the painters tape take a small piece or two and fold it back on itself to create a double side piece of tape. Stick it to each of your outlines.


Step #5:

Start getting creative and hang all of your outlines. I started with the largest frame which was long and skinny. You can pick your favorite, or largest piece of artwork and make that the centerpiece, and then build around it. This is where it gets fun, and like I said before you can’t do this part wrong. It is all personal preference on how you want to arrange each piece.


I created this gallery in my parent’s house, so once I had the layout I thought was cool I asked them to look at it and approve the arrangement. As you can see in the final photos, they decided they wanted all of the frames on the top row to be level at the top, and the frames on the bottom row to be on the same level at the bottom. It is totally personal preference so I rolled with it. I used a large level to get the frames level at the top, all on one line. (If you don’t like the look of multiple photos being on the same level then you won’t need a large level.)


Step #6:

Once you have your layout complete it is time to start nailing. If your photo only has 1 hole or hook like this frame it is easy. If it has 2 holes or hooks that is when you’ll need to break out the level, shown below.

*FYI: The accurate mark of your hanging mechanism of each frame is most important in this step. This makes things a whole lot easier when nailing because you will be able to nail directly through the poster board and not have to figure out how far down the nail needs to go once you’ve arranged your frames/artwork. This is a fool proof way to hang photos without the danger of having to nail multiple times for one photo to get things strait. Make sure you properly mark the paper where the hanging mechanism is located, and that your outline correctly reflects the shape of the artwork.    


If your frame has two holes or hooks start by nailing one side first.


Step #7:

Then, using your level rest the edge of the level on the bottom of the first nail already in the wall. Find the other mark and find your level spot on the second mark and draw a line.
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Step #8:

Once you have drawn the line you now have a level and accurate mark for which to nail into. Hammer your nail in at the same exact angle as the first nail to ensure the picture hangs level. If one nail is strait out from the wall and the other is at a 45 degree angle it will be crooked once you hang the artwork.


Step #9:

After both nails are in in the wall tear the paper from the top to the nail and remove it. Simple, clean and fast!

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Step #10:

Take a little bit of museum wax and ball it up between your fingers. Stick it to the back, lower portion of each frame and press it into the wall until the frame is secure. This is important on frames that only have one hook so the frame doesn’t move and become cockeyed over time. I like to use it on all frames so they are secure, especially if your gallery wall is near a door that is being opened and closed all the time. Photos tend to move more when on a wall that experiences vibrations.

Interesting Tidbit: Museum wax or “Earthquake Wax is the same formulation that museum conservators have been using for years. It’s micocrystalline formula is one of the strongest products available for anchoring antiques, collectibles, artifacts, glass, figurines, and more from falling and breaking. Unique formula grips instantly. Its immediate stickiness grips instantly. Museum Wax is recommended for objects that are more permanently placed. Removal of the object is easy with mineral spirits and/or dental floss. Non-Toxic.” learn more

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The final result is a fun wall full of memories or loved items you get to see every day. It makes for such a fun conversation piece and a reminder of good times.



Thank you for reading my post! If you have any questions I hope to hear from you!