Once upon a time, the best way to hang heavy pictures was to use nails. Sadly, that method leads to holes in the wall, defacing and affecting the wall’s integrity. Thankfully, there are now nail-free options for hanging heavy pictures.

Each of these alternatives effectively sets up your heavy pictures on walls without any damage. Enough talk already. Let’s dive in!

1. Use Picture Hanging Strips

Picture hanging strips are a great way to hang heavy pictures without having to use nails. Some of them, like these 3M Command Strips, are built to hold up photos as heavy as 16 pounds (7.26 kg). Using this option to hang a heavy picture is pretty straightforward.  

You could quickly get the strips online and from offline stores specializing in hardware, supplies, or crafts. However, removing the heavy pictures after hanging with this option might require peeling off wallpaper or paint used as wall covering.

That said, to hang a heavy picture with these hanging strips, follow the steps below:

  1. Remove any hanging hardware around the area where you want to hang the heavy picture. The reason is that the picture hanging strips are adhesive, so they require a clean, flat surface to work right.
  2. Remove hardware protruding from the back of the picture. This includes screws, nails wires, sawtooth fasteners, or just about anything that impedes the smoothness of the surface between the wall and the image.
  3. Clean the surfaces after removing any obstructions. The idea is to wipe down the back of the heavy picture and the wall to the point where both surfaces are as smooth as possible. An excellent way to go about this is to use some isopropyl alcohol and some clean cloth.
  4. Apply the adhesive picture hanging strips after the surfaces are dry. When doing this, you want to press the 2 different sides together for each set of the strips you use. Remove the liner for each group. Press the adhesive to the back of the picture for at least 30 seconds. Do this until you’ve applied all the strips needed for the hanging operation.
  5. Attach the photo to the wall once you’re done applying the picture hanging strips. To do this, remove the liner(s) on the strips. Then, press the picture against the wall.
  6. Isolate the strips you have on the picture from those you fixed on the wall. You can do this by slowly dragging on the bottom corners of the photograph while lifting the image. Then, press the strips against the wall for some 30 seconds using your fingers.
  7. Let things sit for about an hour. After that time, set the picture back to the wall by aligning the strips with the picture.

There’s no one-size-fits-all picture hanging strips, so what you use will depend on the weight of the photographs being hung, and we know those vary. So read the instructions before you start.

2. Hang Them Using Adhesive Hooks or Nails

Now, this option is one of the best ways to get your pictures up on your walls without having to use any “regular” nails. The thing with self-adhesive hooks and nails is that they’re a simple, effective, and pocket-friendly way to hang heavy pictures without defacing the wall.

They come with adhesive parts designed to stick to walls. That said, you can hang heavy pictures without removing the hardware (nails, screws, and whatnot) that was used to hang the picture. The only caveat is that the kind of hardware on the picture would determine if you went for the adhesive hook or nails.

Another thing to keep in mind is the weight of the picture. You see, adhesive nails and hooks have specific weights depending on their size. So in some instances, you might need to use more than one hook or nail. It all depends on the size of the adhesives and the weight of the picture. Whatever you do, ensure that you evenly distribute it when hanging the picture.

Once that’s settled, the first step to using adhesive hooks and nails is to clean the wall because adhesive hooks and nails need clean surfaces to function right. So you want to clean the wall using some isopropyl alcohol and a clean piece of cloth.

Allow both surfaces to dry. Then, get the adhesive hook or nail ready by removing the liner on the adhesive strip before attaching it to the hook or nail, depending on which you opt for.

Then, attach the adhesive hook or nail to the wall to that space that you already cleaned. After that, press the adhesive against that space for some 30 seconds.

Allow the adhesive to stay up for an hour to dry. Once that’s done, you can hang up your pictures using the hook or nail you set up.

3. Use Press-In Hooks

Press-in hooks are another great way to hang a heavy picture without worrying about nails damaging the wall. They’re built to hang pictures as heavy as 150 pounds (68.04 kg) when used correctly.

There is no need for studs or any other installation tools. The only downside is that you might have to make a hole about the size of a pinhead. You might have to use more than one if the picture to be hung is that heavy. Also, you might have a problem choosing which works best for you.

Press-in hooks come in different materials and are designed to handle different weights, so you might let the weight and type of picture being hung guide your choice.

So before you opt for press-in hooks, be sure that you know how heavy the picture is and find a hook with the suitable material for the job. You also have to ascertain that it’s okay to make that minute hole in the wall.

So now that you have gotten the right size of press-in hooks, here are the steps to install the hooks:

  1. Drive the long, curved, tapered end of the hook through your wall (it’s best for drywall). Do this until most of the hook is in the wall.
  2. Set it up so that you have the small hook on the outside set up in a position for hanging stuff.
  3. Continue driving it in until all of it is in.
  4. Ensure that you have the correct number of hooks that can hold up the picture’s weight. You also need to ensure that they’re evenly placed. So in cases where you need more than one press-in hook, you want to ensure that you do some due diligence.
  5. Find out the picture’s width. Then, divide it into 3 or 4 depending on your hooks and how heavy the image is.
  6. Proceed to place these hooks at the exact measurement as per the division you did.

4. Opt for Mounting Adhesive

Hanging heavy pictures with mounting adhesive is the most straightforward option because it requires little or no hassles. And it could all be done in a matter of minutes.

The mounting adhesive takes the form of a paste similar to silicone. It’s often sold in tubes like toothpaste, and when applied right, it leaves no marks on surfaces. That’s why this option is excellent for walls made from tiles or glass.

Here are the steps on how to hang heavy pictures using mounting adhesive:

  1. Apply a drop of mounting adhesive to each corner of the painting.
  2. Hold the picture up against the wall for a bit before removing it. The idea is to leave some of the adhesives on the wall.
  3. Hold up the picture against the wall a second time once the paste on the wall has dried a little (but not wholly). This time around, you want to match the image to the residues of adhesive left on the wall.
  4. Press the picture firmly to the wall (not too firmly if it’s a glass wall). If you got the process right, the photo should remain in place after you have left it.

5. Use Double-Sided Tape

With double-sided tape, you can hang cumbersome pictures without having to use nails. Adhesive tape is stronger than it looks, and it comes in different sizes and weight ratings. Some tapes can even hang pictures as heavy as 18 pounds (8.16 kg)!

Keep in mind that it’s always good to buy a tape bigger than the picture’s weight. In some cases, you might have to use more than one strip.

These tapes are best for walls made from tiles. The reason being is that they often leave markings on different kinds of walls, and the idea isn’t to deface any walls, right?

Here are the steps on how to hang heavy pictures with double-sided tape:

  1. Cut off the tape for the 4 corners of the picture’s frame.
  2. Affix the strips to the back of the frame.
  3. Peel off the tape before holding the picture up on the location where you want the image to be. Take your time deciding where you want to hang your picture because it’s rather hard to adjust its position once it has been affixed to the wall.
  4. Press the picture to the wall firmly for a bit before letting go. It’s a great option because it’s pretty straightforward once you follow the directions.

6. Consider Using Guides or Rails

Now, this is an excellent option if you’re looking to create an effect that stands out. The reason is that you’d mostly find pictures being hung on guides and rails in museums and galleries. You can create a unique aesthetic effect without defacing the walls if you can pull this off right.

All you need to do here is to set up guide rails to the wall or ceiling. You then fix the picture on the wire that sticks out from the guide rail. It’s as easy as that. You might need to make some small holes for this. However, nowhere will the gaps be as significant as those made by nails.

Using guide rails allows you to change the pictures as often as possible without worrying about adhesives stuck to the wall and whatnot. Plus, there’s something about having a gallery-related way of hanging your pictures.

You might also want to read: 5 Alternatives to Command Strips for Hanging Decor on Walls


You can hang heavy pictures without nails using these alternatives:

  • Hanging strips
  • Adhesive hooks or nails
  • Press-in hooks
  • Mounting adhesive
  • Adhesive strips
  • Guides or rails

With each option described in this article, you no longer need to worry about defacing walls or possible accidents of using nails. These nail-free options will ensure that you hang your pictures as simply, affordably, and as conveniently as you will.

If you want to make your pictures stand out, I recommend using guides or rails to hang your pictures. This technique will help you create a unique gallery-like effect without defacing the walls.

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