Why to Avoid Hanging Pictures With Toothpicks

Why to Avoid Hanging Pictures With Toothpicks

Hanging pictures on walls can greatly enhance the aesthetic appeal of a room. However, many people make the mistake of using toothpicks to mount pictures on walls. This can lead to several problems that could damage walls or cause pictures to fall. In this article, I will explain in-depth why toothpicks should be avoided when hanging pictures.

Toothpicks Are Not Strong Enough

The main reason to avoid using toothpicks to hang pictures is that toothpicks simply lack the strength and stability to securely hold a picture frame against the wall.

Toothpicks are very thin, narrow wooden sticks that can easily snap under pressure. Hanging anything heavier than a very lightweight paper picture will put too much stress on the toothpicks. Even the weight of the picture frame itself will be too much over time.

The lack of strength in toothpicks means your picture will eventually fall off the wall. This can happen slowly over days or weeks as the toothpicks weaken and bend. Or it could happen suddenly if the frame is bumped or jarred. Either way, using toothpicks is a recipe for disappointment and damage as your pictures crash to the floor.

Real-Life Example of Toothpicks Failing

I once tried to hang a 5×7 inch framed photo on the wall with toothpicks. I carefully pushed four toothpicks into the drywall and rested the framed photo on top, thinking it would stay. But over the following days, the toothpicks started slowly bending downward under the weight.

Within two weeks, the photo fell off the wall in the middle of the night with a loud bang startling me awake. The frame’s glass broke and caused scratches on my wood floor. This real-life example clearly shows toothpicks are just not reliable enough for hanging anything heavier than a piece of paper.

Toothpicks Damage Walls

Another key reason to avoid using toothpicks for hanging pictures is that they can damage walls.

Toothpicks must be pressed with significant force into drywall or plaster in order to pierce the surface and hold any weight at all. This forceful puncturing leaves noticeable holes in the wall. When the toothpicks inevitably fail, you are left with an unsightly polka-dotted wall marked with holes.

The wall damage can be even worse if you try extracting the toothpicks after failure. Pulling out the sticks often tears away chunks of drywall or plaster. Even if you carefully twist the toothpicks to remove them, the holes remain.

Professional picture hanging kits do not damage walls in this way. The fasteners and hooks are designed to securely attach to walls while minimizing visible damage. Toothpicks simply lack this finesse and consideration for your walls.

Toothpicks Don’t Allow Adjustments

Unlike properly engineered picture hanging hardware, toothpicks do not allow you to easily adjust, level, and align your framed photos and pictures.

Toothpicks are fixed in place once pressed into the wall. There is no way to tweak the orientation without pulling them out and trying again. Proper picture hanging hooks, eye screws, and wire allow you to subtly shift the position even after hanging something.

Also, toothpicks make it nearly impossible to perfectly level a picture frame. Eyeballing the correct height for each toothpick rarely results in a straight horizontal frame. With traditional picture wires and hooks, you can minutely adjust the height and achieve perfect alignment.

Proper Alternatives to Toothpicks

Instead of relying on makeshift toothpick techniques, invest in purpose-built picture hanging hardware. Here are some better alternatives:

  • Picture frame hanging kits – These all-in-one products include a reinforced picture wire and all the necessary hooks, screws, and fasteners. They are inexpensive and specifically designed to properly hang framed pictures.

  • Adhesive picture hanging strips – These use a sticky adhesive back and strong velcro-like front to securely but gently hold pictures on walls. They remove cleanly without damage.

  • Picture hanging hooks – Various types of standalone hooks are available that screw or stick onto walls. They work with picture wire to accommodate different sizes and weights.

  • Nails and screws – While more invasive than hooks, nails and screws provide very reliable support for heavier frames. Just ensure you hit a wall stud to provide enough strength.

Ask a Handyman If Unsure

If ever in doubt about the best hanging method for a treasured picture or frame, consult a professional handyman. They can assess the weight and size needs and install suitable hardware to keep your pictures vertical.


Hanging pictures or frames on walls with toothpicks seems like a quick and easy shortcut. However, as outlined above, this risky approach can lead to damage, instability, and eventual failure.

Investing a small amount into proper picture hanging supplies ensures your frames stay secured on the wall safely for years. And your walls are protected from unnecessary holes and punctures in the process. Simply put, avoid the urge to use toothpicks and instead opt for hooks, picture wire, adhesive strips, or other reliable mounting options. Your photos and walls will thank you!