Picture hanging height formula

How high do you hang pictures? That is the question we all have. But of course, I had to write a post about it! This is the picture hanging height formula, which will turn any DIY enthusiast into an expert hanging that picture on.

This is one of those problems that every webmaster comes up against. Whether you are hanging a single picture, multiple family photos, or scrapbook pages — you need to know the best hanging picture height formula for your pictures.


Like there’s a ton of space between the floor (or whatever is underneath it) and it looks weird. Or worse, if the piece is super tiny and it’s hung so high it’s hugging the ceiling! Once you have the space to hang artwork you should make sure you know how to calculate how high something should hang from the floor. All you need is a calculator and several measurements.

Nothing ruins an awesome piece of art like an incorrect placement. I’m definitely not a stickler for EVERY home decorating standard and I’ll be the first to break the rules if I think something will look better another way.

However, some rules, like the right way to hang art, make a lot of sense. The art looks best when you can appreciate it straight on. However, there’s a formula for ideal hanging height — one that often gets ignored in home decorating.

Picture hanging height formula For a Sensational Look Of  Your art

Picture hanging height formula for home
Rachel Claire-pexels

The best way to hang a piece without causing it damage is to use the hanging equation: X – Y + 57.

This is based on the height of a human (usually around 5’4″), one inch for each inch of the art, and 57 inches for the center of the art above the floor, or eye level.

The math comes out so

Source: Michael Helwig Interiors


The best way to determine how high your art needs to be hung is by calculating the height of your piece and dividing it in half.

the “X” and “Y” are just your variables to plug into the formula.

To determine an exact hanging height for your artwork, you have to do a couple of things.

First, measure the width of your art and multiply it by two through the height of your piece.

Second, measure the height of your piece and divide that number in half. For example, a 15″ x 15″ piece comes out to 18.75″ from top to bottom; 18 divided in half is 6.25” and 6.25 is 2″ above the floor or mounting surface.

Picture hanging height formula
Source: Michael Helwig Interiors

This is something most people don’t understand. If you want to get a painting hung on the wall perfectly, your uprights should be a minimum of 57 inches off the floor. It’s like a wishbone, you want the two pieces to be where they are at the middle point when they are hanging straight down.

Source: Michael Helwig Interiors

Next, you have to take into consideration the position of the hanging hardware; specifically, the difference between the placement of the hanging hardware and how far down it’s positioned from the top of the piece.

In the picture, there’s a 12-inch piece of wire hanging. The 3-inch difference between the top and measurement for the wire is marked with a “Y,” which we will use here.

Picture hanging height formula
Source: Michael Helwig Interiors

Now plug those numbers into your X and Y points in the formula. (X) 7.5” – (Y) 3” = 4.5” + 57” That adds up to 61.5”, that’s the height you hammer your nail to hang this piece.

The picture hanging height formula is simply this. 6″ plus the distance from the ceiling to the center of the picture (57+7.5) inches, so let’s use 57.75″.

Hanging Pictures Above Stairs


Put some interesting stuff on that wall! Hanging a few intriguing items on a stairway above the living room or entryway can be a fun space to decorate. However, there’s one key element to remember with hanging pictures above stairs: you want the picture to be in the correct spot relative to your staircase. Here are some essential tips for making your pictures hang just right.

Don’ts For Hanging Pictures Above Stairs

Don’t think about a big gallery above the stairs. The only spot where a gallery wall is appropriate is in the living room where they can be viewed while relaxing in a chair. In other parts of the home, pictures should be hung closer to one another which will help minimize clutter and provide better viewing angles, lighting and larger images for all the important people.

Picture hanging height formula

Finally, don’t hang pictures so close to the staircase that they become a hazard. Someone at just the right height could accidentally bump one with their shoulder or head, and send them crashing down below. Sounds crazy, I know, but I found a picture of a bartender happily walking down a staircase and fainted on the spot.

Source: Michael Helwig Interiors

If you’re hanging pictures on a staircase and the pictures are going to be framed at 60 inches on center, take the top of that frame and measure what’s under it, or where the studs are.

Mark another 57-inch line above that spot. Mark another 3 1/2 inch mark at each bend along the wall all the way up to your center point, which is where your top step will be installed.

You can mark your plumb line with a chalk line, two push pins and string, or a level tape line. Whatever way you get there, it’s important to make sure the line is level. After that, measure the width of the piece, (X). Now it’s time to install your first piece. The first piece is hung half the width (0.5 X) of the piece above your plumbline. For example, if your piece is 8″, hang it 4″ above your plumbline.

So, for this example, your nail should be centered above the first step at 61”. To determine where your nails should be hung for the next step you need to find the number of inches (X) you have left to go until your next nail would be center. When hanging a picture frame on the scaled measuring tape, start at and at a right angle to something that can get at least any type of screws that will fit.

Tricks for Hanging Pictures Above Stairs

  • Of course, you could simply stand your pictures with the back of them facing the wall, or you could hang them above your staircase the smart way. The difference is that hanging the photos parallel to the angle of your staircase makes for a visually appealing look. ​
  • For an average size staircase of 12 or 13 steps, 3-5 pictures are a good number to start with. To hang more than that, you’ll require a lot more (and more expensive) equipment and/or much more space. Or you may want to use different kinds of clips. So this gives you a maximum of 5 pictures.
  • The easiest way to make hanging pictures above stairs easier – adjust the wires or brackets on the backs of your pictures so that they are all the same distance from the top of the frame.
  • Generally speaking, you should hang your first picture at the top of the staircase, and the last one over the bottom stair tread. Space the rest of your pictures evenly over the remaining stairs in between.

Hanging Picture Above Sofa

If you want to hang art above furniture, like a sofa, for instance, you will follow the original formula where the center of the art is 57” above the floor. The best thing about this is that it doesn’t matter how far apart your furniture may be from each other.

So, if you want to create a piece of art on a sofa, it doesn’t matter whether your living room has been totally revamped or if this happens to be the first piece of furniture in your new house. This can work in your case too!

If you have a tall sofa, you may need to adjust the height of your midpoint up from 57”, 58, 59 up to 60”, but I wouldn’t go higher because you’ll run the risk of the art being positioned too high.

The second thing to keep in mind is the art installation should be between one-half and two-thirds the size of the furniture underneath it.

Source: Michael Helwig Interiors
  • Gallery-style art installation

This is a gallery-style art installation of hanging art! Remember that art is anything you can hang. As long as you have a frame, you have the beginnings of a piece.

Picture hanging height formula

  • 3 Piece art

Put some finishing touch on your living room by attaching 3 pieces of art to the above sofa.   This can be considered as adding a new dimension to your living room. There are a lot of designs that can be selected from, making it possible for you to get all the necessary things you want in it.

Picture hanging height formula
Source: Michael Helwig Interiors
  • Mirror and two sconces

My first thought was to hang the mirror above the sofa and sconces either side of the mirror. This had a potential issue of blocking the TV so I decided instead to go with the following

Picture hanging height formula
Source: Michael Helwig Interiors

Art hanging Above Furniture

Art hanging Above Furniture
Source: Michael Helwig Interiors

Sometimes when you have a short, long piece of furniture, it’s better to go with a grid-type art installation where all the pieces are of the same dimensions and spaced equally apart from one another.



What is the correct height to hang a picture?

The correct height to hang a picture is 3.5 times the height of the picture. If you do not have the height, hang it at eye level for a good first choice.

This is a common question and a common error a lot of people make.  Your eye level while standing should be equal to the center of the frame of the picture.  That is where you want to place your picture frame on the wall.  If you place a picture frame too high or too low, it looks odd and unbalanced.

It is good to hang pictures at an eye level. Generally, most people look at pictures from an eye level. If you hang pictures too high, people will have to look up to see them. However, if you hang a picture too low, people will have to lean down to see it. It is recommended to hang a picture at an average height where your guests, including yourself, will be able to see it properly.

How do you measure where to hang a picture?

There are two ways to do this. The first is the rule of thirds. This is where you take the picture you want to hang, horizontally and vertically, then divide it into thirds (put a grid over the image on your computer, you do this by taking the image and putting it into MS Paint (free download), clicking file-save as, then you must save it as a .bmp).

Where the lines of thirds meet are the best place to hang the picture.  The second is where you hang pictures over the sofa and chairs. Hang pictures above the center of the sofa and chairs.

If the picture is wider than the furniture, hang it above the chair, if it’s taller, hang it over the sofa (this is because the eye is naturally drawn to the top left and bottom right of the furniture). If the picture is the same width and height, or if it’s a little larger than the furniture, then hold it against the wall to see where it looks best.

What is the rule of thumb for hanging pictures?

If you are hanging pictures on a wall, you should know about the rule of thirds: Place your subject at one-third or two-thirds of the way down the picture. It adds a sense of balance to a picture. Another important point to remember is that your eyes will always look to what’s in the center of the picture. And you should avoid placing the subject in the center. e.g. If you are trying to draw attention to the face of your subject, you should place the face off-center.

Should pictures be hung at the same height?

It takes an eye-level comparison to create balance. By hanging photos at the same height, the viewer is made to measure the space and reflect on what it might look like with other photos hung around it.

Consistency is important to create harmony in any surroundings and to make it personal. And looking at what is in front of you, we are surrounded by photos everywhere. From the picture we keep in our wallets to the big poster in the living room, photos play an important role in our life.


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