Rather than employing the less professional method of hanging your framed artwork on a wall with screws, nails or adhesive hooks, using picture rail hangers will bestow a pleasingly contemporary and finished appearance to your artwork installation. Coupled with great lighting, you’ll have a gallery-quality setup for your art displays.

No longer will you have lopsided artworks on the wall, or shabbily presented framed art. Picture rails take home and gallery art installation to the next level – neatening the space that features the art, as well as displaying your beloved art pieces to their highest potential.

A major advantage of using picture rails is that you can easily change the position of your artwork in the future, without any fuss.

contemporary home picture rail

How Does A Picture Rail System Work?

A picture rail, or gallery track, is a rail system designed to hang framed photos and paintings from. Traditionally, picture rails have been put at the top of a section of wall. New designs allow for a continuous system that runs track around the wall-tops of a whole room.

Primary materials needed to install picture rails yourself:

  • Wall/ceiling mounted, horizontal picture rail – made from wood, plastic or metal
  • Adjustable picture rail hooks
  • Picture rail hangers – nylon or stainless steel cord, clear tape, or solid rods
  • Measuring tape
  • Lead pencil
  • Spirit level
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Other useful items you may need on hand – hammer, strong all-purpose hardware glue and paint / stain.

utility stainless steel picture rail hook

In older or heritage homes or for walls that are delicate in some way, a picture rail molding can be used. This will avoid damage to the wall and paintwork. These moldings tend to be constructed from wood, plaster or molded plastic.

Horizontally fixed at the top of the walls, a picture rail securely supports artworks via the metal picture rail hooks that hook over the rounded top of the rail, and the hangers. It is very important to use the correct size of picture rail hook, in order to effectively secure the hook over the picture rail.

traditional chair- rail picture molding

Types of Picture Rail Available

  • You can purchase picture rail kits, for do-it-yourself installation. The kits include picture rails, hangers and hooks. Installation is usually quite easy, but takes confidence and skill.
  • Picture rails can be made to order, to get the exact dimensions for your walls and space correct.
  • Traditional picture rail styles in stainless steel, with heavy brass hooks or stainless steel hooks. These give a traditional appearance, but with a smooth and contemporary functionality. A good modern design of picture rail track will have the hooks and hanging cables/rods sitting close to the wall. This way the framed artwork won’t lean forward as much as they do with older picture rail styles.
  • Period/Colonial style timber picture rail moldings, for a less intrusive framed art installation.

usual picture rail molding hook

If desired, there are also many carpenter-builder services available if you would like to have a professional come to your house to install a picture rail system for you.