How to create a gallery wall with upcycled frames

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Don’t throw away your old frames – upcycle them to create your very own gallery wall at home!

Tools and materials

3M picture hanging strips

Measuring tape

Black spray paint

Microfibre cloth

Brown framing tape

Old photo frames

Damp rag


Dry rag


Dust mask

Sandpaper – 400 grit

Flat head screw driver


Glass cleaner

White spray paint


Tools and materials needed to create a gallery wall

1. Remove your frame’s back

Once you’d decided which old frames you want to upcycle (or have been on your garage sale shopping spree), remove the backs from each one – just unhook the tabs and lift out what’s inside. Be extra careful when handling the glass – its super fragile and can sometimes have extremely sharp edges. Handle with care!

Removing back of frame

2. Sand your frame

Before you paint, give your frame a light sand with some 400-grit sandpaper – your paint will adhere to the surface a lot easier. After you’re done, wipe down with a damp rag and leave to dry.

Sanding old frame with sandpaper

3. Choose your paint

We’re going for a monochromatic theme for our gallery wall and have chosen White Knight Squirts Paint & Prime in black and white for our project. There are a lot of different products that will do the job though – head in store to figure out which suits your style best.

4. Spray your frames

Once you’ve decided which colour is going on which frame, give your cans a good shake. Pop on your dust mask (spray paint can be pretty noxious) and get spraying! You’ll want to have a drop sheet as spray paint really does go everywhere. To achieve an even coating, hold the can upright approximately 15-20cm from the surface, press the button firmly and spray with a smooth sweeping motion. For the best result, spray several coats rather than one thick coat – your paint will be touch-dry in around 15 minutes.

Spray panting frame on protective sheet

5. Clean the frame’s glass

While your paint is drying on the photo frames, clean all the inside glass so it sparkles when you put your photos or artwork back in. Microfibre cloths and glass cleaner work a treat – hold your glass at the sides so as not to spoil your handiwork with thumbprints.

Cleaning the glass of the frame

6. Add framing tape

Once you’ve popped your glass back in and chosen what’s going inside, neaten everything by adding some brown framer’s tape to the back. This will make your frames look brand-new again and also help to keep everything nice and snug inside if the tabs aren’t quite so brand-new anymore. Leave two spots bare at the top of your frame for your hanging strips – they may not stick too well to the tape otherwise.

Replacing artwork in frame

7. Work out where you want your photo gallery to hang

The best way to do this is by working out your configuration on the ground first – check out Pinterest or Instagram for some inspiration. Once you’re happy with the way everything’s clustered, measure and mark out where you want your frames to hang.

Marking up placement of gallery with tape measure and pencil

8. Add your hanging strips

3M removable hooks are genius – and great if you’re renting and aren’t allowed to screw anything into your walls. Just tear them apart and stick them together, then peel off the protective backing sticker and attach to your frame. If your frames have several different backs, you may need to alter which hangers you use – luckily 3M have a huge range, so there should be one that fits the bill.

Removing protective film on adhesive hooks

9. Hang your art

Use a spirit level to make sure your frames are straight – when the bubbles are central, you’re good to go. For optimum performance, peel your frame off the Velcro tabs and allow the adhesive on the strips attached to the wall to totally bond before popping your frame back on – an hour should do the trick. This may not seem essential, but trust us – it WILL lengthen the lifespan of your frames.

Hanging frame to wall with adhesive hooks

10. Your job here is done!

How easy was that? And how amazing do your new, upcycled frames look? Remember – these hanging hooks are removable, so you can mix up your frames at any point or take them with you when you move.

Watch more from the series

Watch the full episode and more D.I.Y. projects from Make It Yours Episode 4: Lounge Makeover by Rachel-Lee and Rachel Aust.


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