Quick and Easy Picture Rails

4 Materials
1 Hour

After living in our house nearly a year, I still hadn’t hung up many pictures or decor on the walls. I kept changing my mind on what I wanted! So to suit my ever-changing ideas, I built these simple picture rails so changing pictures and art out would be super easy, without having to worry about sizes and adding new holes in the wall every time.

Best if all, this project is very inexpensive! For two 4 foot rails, you need two 1”x4”s (8’ long), a 1”x2” (also 8’), and a handful of wood screws and finishing nails. Wood glue will add some extra stability, but is not required.

I like to layer my canvases and picture frames, so I used 1x4s, but if you want a single layer, you can use 1x3s instead.

I am writing this tutorial AFTER completing the project, so these are a couple scrap pieces I have to demonstrate. They are NOT the actual boards used.

First step- cut your boards to length. Usually the employees at the store where you purchase your lumber are happy to cut them for you if you can’t or don’t want to cut them at home. (This also helps with transporting if you have a small vehicle!)

Four foot rails fit perfectly on the wall I was building them for, so I cut all three boards in half. Sand the boards.

To assemble, set the boards up like this on a flat surface. Use several wood screws along the back of one 1x4 into the back edge of the second 1x4. Make sure these screw heads are flush with the surrounding wood so the rail can sit flat against the wall. Use finishing nails on the front of the 1x2. Be sure to use wood glue at both of these seams if you want to. Fill and sand holes at the front. When everything is assembled and dry, paint or stain to your liking and hang them up!

We sunk a couple screws through the back 1x4 and into the studs to make sure the shelves stayed put. I didn’t worry about painting or hiding these screws, because there will be pictures in from of them.

Decorate and enjoy! And redecorate as often as desired!

**To address several comments, yes, these are also sold at IKEA, however, it is much cheaper to make your own if you can. (IKEA’s are $9.99 for a 21” shelf, and $14.99 for a 45” shelf)**

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Jamie Platt Erwin
    on Sep 7, 2019

    Why wouldn’t you just use gutters ??

    • Ida9464
      on Sep 30, 2019

      Completely different look with gutters. Love this and I plan to ask DH to copy. Thx!

  • Cynthia Himes Mcknight
    on Sep 7, 2019

    what are gutters?

    • Shannon
      on Sep 9, 2019

      This is a great idea , I'm jus afraid to venture out and do anything different , why idk

  • Rachel Fowler
    on Sep 8, 2019

    I love this idea! What would you suggest for a stairwell? I have tons of portraits hanging and we’re about to paint. I’d love to use boards. I’m not worried about the landing but Do you think it would look weird on facing walls on the stairs?

    • Amanda
      on Sep 9, 2019

      I was also going to recommend shorter shelves, and maybe using a 1x3 at the bottom instead of a 1x4 so it doesn’t stick out from the wall as far.

Join the conversation

2 of 55 comments
  • Nancy
    on Sep 8, 2019

    Fantastic idea and solution to a problem that I had

  • Cindy Holton
    on Sep 8, 2019

    I am thinking about doing this. I have the wood. Great job.

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