I’ve had many people ask me about the photo rails in my dining room. If you’re looking into ideas to spruce up your home on a budget, this is just the project for you!

Step 1 | Convince Yourself That You Need Classy Photo Rails

I think frames are a hassle to hang. Maybe that’s because it drives me crazy if the picture to the right is a bit higher than the one on the left. I am also an advocate of large photos–either giant canvas prints or a large display that makes a statement. Lastly, I enjoy the versatility of being able to move photos around. After seeing photo rails in the homes of a few friends, I knew I had to do it myself.

The following instructions are for a 10.5 foot wall. Feel free to adjust the measurements to accommodate your empty wall.

Step 2 | Obtain Necessary Supplies

Head to your local hardware store and pick up the following supplies:

2 7 foot pieces of 5″ wide fluted casing (Note: This is the hardest supply to locate. The link is for 3″ wide casing. I had to special order my 5″wide casing at a hardware store, but it was really easy. You can choose to use regular molding as well as long as there are divots in the wood to support photos.)

6 5″x7″ wooden shelf brackets (Note: If you choose a different width for your casing or molding, find a bracket that is narrower as well. The idea is that the bracket will be flush with your wood panel.)

3 twin pack dry wall anchors

32 oz can Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner

8 oz can Minwax Wood Finish

1 quart Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane (Clear Satin)

fine sandpaper or sanding sponge

shop rags/towels

a few cheap foam brushes

paint thinner for cleaning

level, preferably electronic (Note: We tried a few fancier levels but found that a mix of classic level with electronic readings was best. )

tape measure, screwdriver, pencil

a spouse or friend who doesn’t drive you crazy

 Step 3 | Be Norm Abram from The New Yankee Workshop For An Afternoon

Set up two saw horses and place the wooden beams along them. I’d recommend placing some shop rags between the wood and horses. Sand your wooden beams and brackets. Follow the instructions on the wood conditioner, stain, and polyurethane. I put two coats of stain and probably four coats of polyurethane before calling it complete. This might take a few days of start, stop, dry, sand, start, stop, dry, sand.

Step 4 | Hanging the Photo Rails

Once everything is ready to hang, your task is to make 6 pencil dots on the wall. This sounds easy, but it takes a bit of finesse. This is where your buddy comes in. I’d also recommend figuring out how the drywall anchors work before you put the first one in the wall. One of our anchors had trouble releasing and gripping the drywall. But maybe you’re a pro and already know how to use them! If so, bravo…I was clueless.

Step 5 | Admire Your Work

Congrats, you’ve got your new rails hung and now they are ready for photos which is all covered in part II!