help and notes

picture hanging measurements

There are many ways to hang pictures depending on fastening methods available, personal preferences, tools and equipment etc. These can range from simple arbitrary placement, use of centerlines, center points or edges; and may use simple tools like a spirit level and tape measure, or precision location using lasers. All are perfectly valid methods.

Some prefer to determine the centerline or center point for a picture or artwork and work from there. Centerlines can be used in these calculators, particularly for solo works. However, the focus is on wall section and artwork widths, heights and width adjustments to position centers and fasteners relative to edges or previous works.

While the approach based on edges and is reliable, it is important to note that it is not the only way. Regardless of the method you prefer, I hope the calculators can be used to make relevant and helpful calculations for many purposes. For example, you can complete just the inputs you need:

  • for heights complete inputs for alignment height, work height and drop to fastener(s)
  • for help with horizontal spacing complete inputs for section width, number of works, work widths, and options for inter-work and first/end spaces.
  • even spaced layouts
    step 1: decide overall setup
    • complete step 1 "overall wall setup", to document layout parameters: input the height of your chosen horizontal alignment, i.e. as used in step 3: A. mid-line (eyeline), B. top edges or C. lower edges aligned (measurement results are provided for each of these options in a table in step 3) and input width of wall or section of wall, and the number of works on the wall or section
    step 2: determine horizontal spacing
    • determine horizontal spacing in step 2. The widths of all works (ie. work positions) need to be entered. If your hanging will include multiple frames vertically in a single work position use the width of the widest work as that work position's horizontal width

    • for your specified wall section results show measurements for symmetrical layouts: i) an even spacing distance which includes first/end spaces as well as inter-work spaces; and ii) calculated even first and end spaces with a specified inter-work distance; or iii) calculated even inter-work space with specified first / end distance.

    • calculation iv) ignores "section width" to determine the width of the group of works specified in steps 1 and 2 using a set inter-work space and zero first/end width. This is useful as sometimes a group of works can be considered like a single work in the overall layout

    • note the initial calculations are based on zero (0). Zero might be good as a first/end space if you want a group to fill a section defined by first and last works' outer frame edges (you may need to adjust the section width). But for inter-work spacing a distance is usually required

    step 3: install works
    • use step 3 "individual work calculations" for each work to obtain both vertical and horizontal hanging measurements. Input all information required

    • include your set "first / end space" or calculated "even inter-work space with set first / end space", or use any arbitrary spacing you desire (eg. if uneven or specified spacing is required)

    • drop to fastener will be either: distance from frame top to taught hanging wire, or to inside top of D-rings where the hook would sit (if height of two fasteners is uneven just do two drop calculations). It might also be the stretcher width if simply hanging on nails or screws. Drop to fastener can be a negative number, eg. if using pins in cloth tape

    • inside adjustment is either to D-ring centers or some set distance if hanging on nails, screws, or other fasteners like pins.

    • finally expand the appropriate table tab for the alignment method chosen to see the correct results. For each work repeat data entry in step 3. Note that one section of wall may use more than one alignment method, e.g. if you want two rows of works with one top aligned and the other lower aligned. If so, I recommend calculating rows in separate operations using the pdf template to record relevant measurements

    • hang each work one by one according to the calculated measurements; ensure each work is hanging horizontal with a level before proceeding

  • individual and group layouts
    step 1: decide alignment height

    method one using regular form:

    • first, enter the chosen alignment height for a work in the step 1 field "alignment height". That is, decide whether you wish the top, middle or lower edge to be at a specified height. Works in a clustered group may use different alignments. Other fields in step 1 and step 2 of the form may not be required

    • an optional calculation is to determine the width of a group of works with a set inter-work distance and zero first/end width. This requires entries in steps 1 and 2 for the group, but "section width" is not used. This is useful as sometimes a group of works can be considered like a single work in the overall layout

    • complete step 3 fields for each individual work. Enter relevant distance to the previous work/edge if any (it may be zero for the first work or an arbitrary distance) and other step 3 work measurements (width, height, drops and adjustments). Choose the correct alignment table corresponding to your chosen alignment and read out fastener locations

    method two using "solo" button:

    • a pop-up form asks for all the data and provides all the results required to hang a single work. Enter data into the "inputs" section, ie. a work's chosen "reference height" and other details. The results are shown for vertical height options (ie. top edge, mid-line or lower edge at the reference height level) and relevant horizontal measurements

    • use the main form to determine horizontal spaces, and then you can use solo for each work in turn. Alternatively you can pre-plan the set-up and use solo to print out individual instructions for specific works

    step 2: install works
    • starting at one side, hang works one at a time repeating the process for each work. Ensure each work is hanging horizontal with a level before proceeding
    • groups can often be treated as a single work to help with their location, heights and widths

    • you can use the calculator to determine the location of the group and/or its distance to the previous or next edge. For example, to adjust a group's location, or the location of components within a group the "golden ratio" can be useful - scratch pad has "phi" built-in to help with that (ie. longer ratio = length/phi).

    • to help with treating a group as one work, a pop-up lightbox (use the "vert" button). This provides measurements to quickly determine the overall height of a group and the heights of the top edges and fasteners of each work. Only enter heights of as many works as required up to a maximum of six. Heights are required but drop to fastener is optional. This information can be used in the main form or "solo" to set a new alignment or reference height for a work, column or row. That is, horizonontal spacings within the group can be determined using other parts of the calculator. Note that entries in the lightbox forms will remain until cleared so you can move back and forth between the lightbox and the other forms on a page.

    • such groups are best designed before hanging; and with careful planning fastener locations can be determined in advance of hanging using a plan, eg. pdf template

  • using scratch pad
    • use buttons like a calculator, or math expressions can be entered directly into the result area by clicking/tapping it and using a keyboard (the area has multiple lines for long expressions), then when ready press blue = button
    • hint: you can also enter your measurements or calculations into the temporary notes area and then copy and paste them into the result area. This is useful to keep track of, or reuse, your measurements and calculations
    • calculator uses mathjs library and can parse and evaluate expressions using many units and constants, eg. feet, inch, m, cm, mm, kg, lb, degF, degC, mean, std, pi, phi, sum, sqrt, ^, %, !, e, trigonometric, bin, hex, etc. For more information: units
    • order of operations:
      • parentheses
      • exponents
      • multiplication and division
      • addition and subtraction
      • same precedence (like * and /) are computed from left to right
    • usage examples include:
      • calculate the sum of lengths or heights: sum(first,second,third,...) with no final comma and a closing parenthesis needs to be added;
      • do basic picture hanging calculations such as: alignment_height+(picture_height/2)-drop_to_fastener for mid-line alignment height, or sum(alignment_height,picture_height/2,-drop_to_fastener);
      • find the longer "golden ratio" length, eg. to locate a mid-point for an off-center work or group in a wall section, enter: wall_length/phi; or for any height or width length/phi
      • determine the location on a floor at 90° from a wall point, calculate the hypotenuse side of a right angle triangle enter sqrt(first^2+second^2) a closing parenthesis needs to be added;
      • conversions for hardware, wires etc. use to, eg. convert feet/inches to mm enter #inch to mm or #feet +#inch to mm, or #kg to lb
    • decimal calculations done in javascript sometimes produce results with many decimal places - these inaccuracies can be ignored, or results rounded manually
    • temporary notes will be cleared on exiting page or app
  • PDF templates
    • PDF template for hardcopy or as a background in your notes app so you can plan ahead. Use in split screen to scribble measurements
    • PDF template to collect artwork dimensions and measurements in preparation for using hangcalc
  • app information
    • this is a progressive web app using javascript for calculations. Install it using your web browser, e.g. in Chrome-based browsers use "Add to Home" or "install app" and in iOS "Add to Home Screen"

    • depending on device used tap screen, Done, enter or update button when last input is entered to ensure result tables update

    • use AC button to clear inputs, exiting page or app will also clear all data

    • The software is provided "as is", without warranty of any kind, express or implied. In no event shall the authors or copyright holders be liable for any claim, damages or other liability.

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