Hanging Pictures

As part of the renovation, we added or replaced picture rails around the house to make hanging art easier.

The thing about picture rails is that not all rails work with all hooks. You kind of need to either get the hook designed for your rail, or get a bunch and test them out. So I did the latter, since we didn't have any information on the former. This is the set of hooks I chose, in a few different profiles and styles:

Various rail hooks

They are:

Plain Tapered Picture Rail Hook -- this is a fairly plain, no-nonsense hook that works with both modern design and traditional. It was good but the hook part didn't quite match the shape of the bottom of our picture rail.

Ivy Pattern Picture Rail Hook -- this basically the same shape as the Plain Tapered hook, with a pattern stamped into it. I was hoping this would work as it is actually period for our house, but of course like the Plain Tapered, the curve of the hook part was not quite right. It could work, but we had better options.

Victorian Floral Picture Rail Hook -- this felt a little undersized for our larger pieces of art, but mostly just didn't fit well.

Plain Solid Brass Picture Hanging Hook -- this one actually had a slightly different curve than the Victorian Floral above, but also not quite right. The metal is malleable enough that you can bend these to suit your rail shape, which did not recommend it for some of our larger pieces.

Cast Brass Picture Rail Hook -- this felt super wobbly and unsteady. The metal is narrower so this is a very subtle hook, but it didn't seem as balanced or sturdy as other ones. Also the curve was all wrong.


Plated Steel Rod Picture Rail Hook
-- this just felt undersized and too wire-like. You could easily make the hook wobble side to side which felt very insecure. The curve matched better than most but the overall feel of the hook was not good.

Heavy Duty Picture Rail Hook -- this was our Goldilocks hook. It fitted perfectly on the picture rail, felt substantial and solid, and the knob on the end felt like it would hold art securely. We bought these ones.

Ivy Pattern Ribbon-Style Picture Rail Hook -- this had the same issues other ribbon-type hooks had: feeling a little insubstantial and lightweight. They are pretty, though.

For hanging the art, we have either gold wired cord or 100-lb fishing line. We hung this piece in the dining room with fishing line, using two hooks for redundancy.

Hung art

(You can see our stack of hanging supplies: the fishing line, the boxes of hooks, and the coils of gold wired cord, over on the right.)

To make this work we are having to relocate the hanging hardware on a lot of the frames, because it is located to be hung from a picture hanger rather than a picture rail. Not hard work, but a little tedious.

Noel did some research on knots and chose a a knot used for snelling a fish hook (this is terminology I literally just learned: basically it's when you tie a fishing hook on the end of a fishing line) called the uni-knot. It's easy to tie, and is recommended for putting tension on monofilament, so there you go.

Only about 100 more pictures to hang.

posted by ayse on 12/16/19

3 Comments

I'm taking lots of notes. My rental house has horrible plaster walls over cinderblock that make hanging pictures a nightmare. I'm here a few more years, so I'm going to see about having the maintenance guy hang me picture rails in a few rooms. I didn't realise that pictures are then literally hanging from a thread from the rail, rather than hung on the rail itself.

The horrors of making holes in plaster is 100 percent the reason for picture rails. Make you get actual picture rail and not just small crown molding, because you need something for the hook to hold onto.

Hello! It's been a few months since you posted and I'm getting worried about you. I hope everything is ok!

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