How to DIY a Picture Rail System

Would you like to make your own DIY Picture Rail System for a wall in your home? Well then, let me show you how in a few simple steps.

Picture Rail System

Have you ever wondered what to do with a blank wall in your home? There are a lot of options. You could do the typical gallery wall of family photos, add artwork, OR you could create your own DIY Picture Rail System.

I decided not to use the typical picture rail molding, hooks, and chain for this project because they were somewhat pricey. I came up with my own system, and the supplies ended up being less than $20, and I still think it looks really good.

Watch the full step-by-step DIY Picture Rail System Tutorial:

Tools & Supplies

Step 1: Rails And Hooks

Instead of using picture rail molding, I used 1-inch dowels. I used two 4-foot dowels because that was what I could find.

However, a longer 8-foot dowel would have looked better and been easier to install. Hopefully, you don’t run into supply problems like me and can find them at your local hardware store.

I painted the dowels and the ends of the hooks black with some spray paint.

Step 2: Hanging The Picture Frame Rails

I installed the hooks by simply screwing them into the wall. Then I placed the rails in the hooks.

Now, if you are concerned about the hooks holding the weight of pictures, keep reading because the only thing the hooks will be supporting will be the rails.

TIP: It’s important to use a level to ensure everything is nice and straight when hanging the hooks and reals.

Step 3: Furniture Placement

This may seem like an interesting step, but whenever I’m placing pictures on a wall, I find it easier to visualize where to hang them when the furniture is in place. So I added my Retro Waterfall Dresser to the space.

I also like to add any additional decor, like the globe, to make sure it won’t cover the artwork.

Step 4: Hanging The Chain On The Rail

As I said before, picture-hanging chains can be pricey, so I grabbed these chains at the hardware store instead.

They are actually used for hanging planter pots, but they were perfect for my project, so I grabbed them.

To attach the chains to the rail, I wrapped the chain around the rail and then used the hooks that were attached to the bottom of the chains to connect it to the additional chain.

Now it’s time to hang the pictures.

Step 5: Hanging The Pictures On The Chain?

Alright, the Step 5 Title is a little misleading because I’m not actually going to hang the pictures on the chains.

This is a little trick I learned a long time ago, and it makes things soooooo much easier! Simply use a nail to hang your pictures OVER the chain.

Then you don’t have to worry about making the chains the right length and attaching the pictures to the chains. Plus making everything level is much harder when you use the chains.

See how the chains aren’t attached to the pictures? Now, if you want to attach them to the frames, you can grab some double-sided tape and tape them to the back of the pictures. No one will ever know!

Step 6: Hanging Pictures With Longer Chains

I wanted to hang my horse picture a little lower than the other pictures, so I attached two of the chains together with the chain hooks and then followed the same process as with the previous pictures.

The Final Results

And here it is, my DIY Hanging Picture Rail. I’m in love with the results, and it looks so good alongside my Retro Waterfall Dresser that I refinished.

I will definitely be using this system in my future projects. However, I might change a few things. See the next section.

Things I Would Do Differently

  1. I would DEFINITELY change the length of the dowel. The two 4-foot dowels worked, but it would look cleaner and hang a little better if it was one 8-foot dowel instead.
  2. I liked the black picture rail against the color of this wall, but I wonder what the picture rail and chain would have looked like if it were gold. It would be an easy change to make. Simply spray paint everything gold.

FAQ About Picture Rail Gallery Walls

Are Picture Rails Old-Fashioned?

The answer is yes and no. Picture rails have been around since the 18th century. They were originally a way to hang artwork or photos without marking your walls.

However, picture rails still have a place in modern interior design. I love a combination of modern and traditional elements in a space.

An example of this is the modern waterfall dresser combined with the picture rail in the pictures above.

Plus, picture rails are a great alternative to the typical gallery wall.

Is Installing Traditional Picture Rail Molding Difficult?

Installing traditional picture rail molding is not a difficult task. It is a simple process that can be completed in a few steps with minimal effort. With the right tools and materials, anyone can install picture rail molding in their home.

After the picture rail molding has been installed, you can begin to hang your artwork. Depending on the type of picture rail molding you are using, there are different ways to hang artwork. Some picture rail moldings come with a track for hanging artwork, which can be very helpful. Alternatively, you can use hooks to hang artwork with the picture rail molding.

Creating my own DIY Picture Rail System wasn’t difficult and I think the results speak for themselves.


Make It Easy – is the perfect DIY guide for busy women like you. All the projects can be done with minimal supplies in less than an hour.

Beginners DIY Tool Guide – will teach you about the tools you’ll need to get started on your DIY journey.

Paint Your Space Guide – if you’re overwhelmed by all of the paint choices at the home improvement stores? Then this guide is for you.

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