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How to Mat and Hang Antique Art and Labels Without Ruining or Damaging Them

If you’re like me, and you love beautiful vintage labels, art prints, and other stunning antique advertising and you want to hang it up in your home. Even though it's not rocket science, mounting art on the wall can be a little tricky. You have to consider the materials you're using, how you want to hang the piece, and what kind of wall you have. If you don't hang things just right, you might damage the art. But don't worry! We'll walk you through the best methods for hanging things on your walls so they look great and don’t wind up damaged.

If your print or art is rolled, uncurl it properly.

Clean a flat surface and roll out the print upside down – so that the direction of the print’s original curl is facing downwards. As you begin, set two heavy, flat objects on the first two corners. Unroll completely and do the same with the other two corners. A little dampness or humidity (like that created by a humidifier) will help your print flatten more quickly, but be ready for your print to stay in that position for a day or two. Then, take a tube the width of your print (most likely the one it was stored in, and roll your poster gently around it in the opposite direction it was previously rolled. This should flatten it out.

Attach your poster to poster board before hanging.

We highly recommend using a foam poster board rather than directly attaching a label to the wall. You can use art-friendly tape to attach the label to the board. Then, you have a lot of options for how you can attach the board to the wall. If you are not worried about a slight impression on your wall paint, you can use mounting tape. Alternatively, you can staple a string or wire to the board before attaching your label. Then you can hang the board just like you would a frame.

Choose the right position and hardware before you hang art.

If you are hanging a lightweight frame, label, or print, a simple nail and frame hook will serve you well. If you are hanging anything heavier, however, you will want to find a stud (a wooden beam behind the drywall). You can do this by using a stud-finder. These tools are usually between $15 and $50 at the hardware store. Use a drill bit to slowly and carefully drill through the drywall and into the stud – looking out for electrical wiring. Then, switch the bit and drill a screw into the stud, leaving enough sticking out of the wall to hang your art. This will hold heavier art securely, but the hole will need to be patched if the art is removed. If you need two screws for a piece, use a leveler to ensure they are even with each other. For drywall without a stud behind it, you can use a drywall anchor, drywall nails, expanding anchors, or anchor wire/monkey hooks these are less ideal.

Pick the right height.

A good rule of the thumb is for the center of your art piece to sit fifty-seven inches above the floor. You’ll want to account for the additional distance between the center of the art and the height of the attachment point. So, find the center of the back of your art piece, and then measure from there to the point where the art will actually rest on its hook. Add this to fifty-seven inches. Then, use that total to measure, from the floor, how high to place your hook on the wall. If you are hanging your art above a piece of furniture, you will not use the fifty-seven inch rule. Instead, you will want the bottom of your art to rest 6-8 inches about the furniture piece.

Frame your piece appropriately.

Before buying a frame, make sure you account for the size of the mat that will sit around your label. You can buy a frame and mat separately or together. The opening inside your mat must be large enough not to cramp your art. Allowing an eighth of an inch of space between the edge of a picture and the beginning of the mat is a good rule of thumb, but you will have to judge based on the artwork itself. If your artwork is an unusual size, you will have to have a mat custom cut to fit the dimensions. For any tape that touches the back of the artwork itself – used to attach it to a mat or mount, you will want to use acid-free tape specifically intended for hanging art. This tape will keep your art in place without damaging it over time.

Keep your artwork from fading through placement and glass choice.

Never hang art in direct sunlight. Clear glass blocks about half of the sun’s damaging UV rays, but your artwork will still fade over time. Fortunately, you now have some options if you want to hang art in a sunnier room. Conservation glass is designed with slight etching across its surface to diffuse light away from the art. And museum glass can now filter out about 98% of UV rays. Even with these, however, you should still avoid direct sunlight on any piece of art.

I hope that was helpful in getting you oriented. Now, you’re ready to add to your art collection with a visit to Vintage and Antique Gifts. If you have specific questions about hanging your works of art, let us know. What issues have you run into? Or what fixes have you found on your own? Drop a comment below!

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