How to install a picture rail

Picture rails have become a very popular way of hanging pictures in homes, schools, offices. They have been used for a long times in galleries and museums. How easy is it to install them? Below you can find useful tips how to install a picture rail.


As always when doing any DIY, preparation is key to achieving a great finish. Make sure that the walls where you’re adding the picture hanging system are clean and free of wallpaper. Any repairs or plastering should also be done before you add your picture rail. If you decide to paint your walls and not paint the picture rails, please do so before installation. This way, you’re guaranteed a perfectly clean edge. Rails in primer finish can be painted over or left white as they are.


Measure your wall (start with the longest one) and then transfer the measurement to the piece of picture rail. Double check your measurements before cutting it to size.

Cutting the rails

Rails of your picture hanging system are made of aluminium therefore it i pretty easy to cut them to size especially if you need a straight cut.

To cut the necessary angles at the ends of the pieces of picture rail, use a mitre box and a fine saw or an electric mitre saw. If you only have a few pieces of picture rail to attach, a mitre box and handsaw are more than enough to complete the job.


Most rails require you to drill holes for plugs. If your rails come with clips, use them as a drilling template. ALl holes need to be in line. Hold the picture rail (get someone to help you) in position and use a spirit level to make sure that it’s perfectly level. Mark spots where you want to drill.

Wall rails require a hole about every 50 cm. Ceiling rails need holes much denser. SOme rails can also be glued so if you’re using glue, you should spread an even zig-zag pattern over the back of the picture rail and press it firmly in place.

Don’t expect the corners in your room to be perfect 90° angles. It doesn’t matter too much if they are slightly off, but it’s worth checking and adjusting your cut if the angles are are much smaller or larger than they should be. It’s good to get your cut as exact as possible.

Our Top Tips

> Paint the wall before hanging – will ensure that you have perfectly tidy edges
> Measure your wall and plan how you install the rails before cutting
> Use spirit level and clips (if possible) to mark the drilling spots