How to Make a Large Wall Hanging

budget friendly wall art watercolor tahoe print mountainmodernlife.com

How to Make a Large Wall Hanging

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

I love trees and I don’t care who knows it! Seriously though there is something so serene and beautiful about trees, and I’ve always had this fascination with them. My favorites are the redwoods, evergreens and sequoias which is why I think I’m so fond of the West Coast.

Eric and I actually just got back from a short trip up near the Chattahoochee forest, where we finally spent a couple days in the RV (check out our new RV video channel here). Although we’ve had it for a few months now, we keep the RV in storage and so far every trip has been to visit family. It was nice to have our first trip with the “baby” all to ourselves, and really take everything in.

They may not have been my evergreens, but as soon as we were enveloped by the towering trees, it was like time stopped and nothing else mattered but the present moment. You may be thinking I’m a total weirdo, but hopefully you can relate that there’s nothing like nature to make us slow down, and remember what’s important.

I think that’s why I love this large wall hanging in our dining room so much. I have received a lot of questions about how it was made, so today I’m sharing just how easy it was to create, along with a few tips I learned along the way.

How to Make a Large Wall Hanging from an Engineering Print

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Are you familiar with engineering prints? They are essentially oversized prints used for line drawings or architectural plans, but they can also be your bff when it comes to creating large wall hanging.  The three sizes available at Staples are 18 x 24, 24 x 36 or 36 x 48 and range from $2-8 for black and white copies and $6-24 for the color versions!

Despite the fact that these are technically not suitable for photographs, I’m always impressed with the quality of my oversized family and travel photos.

The photo I used for this project was taken on our last trip to California when we decided to spend the night in Lake Tahoe on a whim, after spending the day in a nearby town. What’s funny is that I took it from our car while we were driving. We were on our way to the hotel and I was snapping photos on my phone, all while knowing they would be blurry since we were in motion. I did it anyway.

The next day something came up and we left before we could get a hike in. Boooooooo. Now I’m happy I took this photo.

Yes the image was a bit blurry and sure I would have preferred a crisper image taken from my DSLR, but ya know what? After a little bit of cropping and watercolor magic, I LOVE how my large wall hanging turned out!

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

 

mint-border-mountainmodernlife.com

Here is what you will need to make your own large wall hanging:

It may look like a lot of supplies but you may already have a lot of these items on hand. The only supplies we had to buy were the foam board, engineering print, and hanging strips so all in all this project cost us less than $30.

36 x 48 Engineering Print (you can purchase the Lake Tahoe image I used HERE)

36 x 48 Black Foam Board

{2} Boards cut to 51″ long (if using a 36 x 48 print) – We used 2 x 3’s.

Spray Adhesive

Packing, Gorilla or Duck Tape

Nail Gun or Heavy Duty Staple Gun

3M Hanging Strips

Twine

2 Eye Hooks/Thumbtack

Credit Card/Back of Spoon

Additional Supplies if creating a custom size:

Chalk

Box Cutter

Yardstick/Measuring Tape

Scissors

mint-border-mountainmodernlife.com

If I knew then what I know now

Just a heads up, this post is LONG, however the steps are all very simple so don’t feel overwhelmed. I just wanted to share what I did, and also what I would do if I make this project again.

To sum it up, if I make another wall hanging in the future, I would use a different size than the one I used in this post. I had my image printed in a different size (34×42) because I was originally going to use some leftover plywood with these measurements as my backing, just as I did in this post about the large scale wall art in our bedroom. I also prefer plywood for future large scale projects (like I did here), unless I’m using foam board that doesn’t fold.

However, I later decided that I wanted to test a different material, especially since we will need to find lightweight wall art options in our RV.

I had a 36 x 48 tri-fold corrugated display board, but knew it wouldn’t be thick enough to support the wood I wanted to add to the top and bottom. So instead I headed to my local craft store where I picked up a 36 x 48 x 3/16 tri-fold foam display board. After a 50% off coupon, it set me back about $9. Not too shabby.

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

The concern? Would it be sturdy or flat enough for my print? There’s only one way to find out! The answer: yes 🙂

TIP: My advice to you would be to print a 36×48 engineering print, unless you want a custom size. This wall hanging was already ridiculously easy to make, but had I made my print the same size as the foam board, it would have been even easier!

Step 1: Create an Engineering Print from an image.

The first thing I did was crop the image onto a 34 x 42 document in Photoshop, knowing I could send it over to Staples to be printed as a color engineering print. You should be able to do this in any image editing software, or even PicMonkey.

Even though I created a custom size, I had to order the 36 x 48 engineering print, knowing the paper would be larger than my image and I would have to trim the paper edges. It cost about $12.

Again, I recommend you use a 36 x 48 photo if you are going to use the 36 x 48 foam board. 

Afterwards, I used the same Watercolor Photoshop app I used for our bedroom wall art. This is totally optional and not necessary. Using the watercolor effect allowed me to create a large image that wasn’t all pixelated. Just make sure whatever image you use is high resolution.

Once you have your 36 x 48 image saved as a JPG you can put it on a flash drive and take it to Staples to be printed, or order it online here.

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

TIP: If you order a print online for store pickup you generally have to pay extra to pick it up the same day. However, if you call the Staples ahead of time and ask if they can have it ready the same day, they generally can and they won’t charge you extra either 🙂

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

Step 2: Tape the creases in the tri-fold foam board

The next thing you will want to do for your large wall hanging is to tape the creases on the the back of your tri-fold foam board to make it stay flat. I would recommend a heavy duty tape, like packing, duck or gorilla tape but we didn’t have any so I just used some exterior painter’s tape. I added two layers of tape to each crease and it seemed to do the job.

Update: I definitely don’t recommend using painter’s tape as it’s not strong enough. After about 3 months I started to notice creases where the tape was coming a bit loose on the back and not staying sturdy. Heavy duty tape most likely would have fixed this issue. Whoops. 

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

Step 3: Cut the foam board (if using a custom size – skip if using 36 x 48 print)

Afterwards you can flip the foam board over. If you decided to make a custom size like me (that is not available in foam board sizes) then you will want to cut your board down to size. I just measured with a yard stick and then cut my foam board with a box cutter down to 34 x42 to match the size of my print.

If you have a 36 x 48 print and a 36 x 48 foam board, then you can skip this step.

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

Even though my image was 34 x 42 and I ordered the 36 x 48 engineering print, the paper was actually 36 x42. I’m guessing this is because they cut the paper down a bit. The white edges on the sides were uneven but I wasn’t too concerned about it because I knew I would cut those off anyway.

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

I will say that I didn’t cut my foam board or paper perfectly, which at first drove me nuts. It wasn’t off by much but there was a little more of a white border on one side of the print than on the other. When everything was finished you really can’t tell unless you know and start inspecting the edges carefully.  I am learning to let go of the perfectionist I want to be…

Step 4: Attach the image to the foam board

Once your print and foam board are the size you want you can attach the image to the foam board using spray adhesive.

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com


UPDATE: After a few months I noticed areas where the paper was lifting from the foam and think I may have not used enough spray adhesive.  I used the same spray adhesive with this large print and have had no issues which is why I think the amount used may have been the problem… or it may be that this was foam and not plywood.

The other thing I did differently with that project was seal the top with Modge Podge, so you may want to consider doing that to this project as well. However, I think using a stronger spray adhesive since you are sticking it to foam, or using extra adhesive should solve this issue. If you notice creases in the photo later on you should be able to gently smooth them out with a credit card, just be super gentle as not to create any creases. If you create this project on folding foam I’d love to hear how it’s holding up in the comments below!


To attach the print to the foam board you will want to center the paper onto the board and then tape one edge of the paper to the back of the board with painter’s tape. You can then spray the foam board with spray adhesive and have someone help when rolling the paper down to prevent it from shifting or getting wrinkles. Afterwards, be sure to smooth the paper out as much as possible starting from one corner and working your way out.

My sister helped hold the paper up while I sprayed the adhesive, and then helped me slowly move the paper down into place. I used the scraper from my Silhouette to gently smooth the paper out, but you can use a credit card or back of a spoon.

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

I didn’t add a sealer on top like I did on our large bedroom art, and so far so good.

Step 5: Adding the wood to the top and bottom of the foam board

Once the print was attached to the foam board we got out 2 pieces of wood and used our nail gun to attach them to the foam board. We had cut and stained some wood a while back, when I planned to frame out two of my abstract paintings. We wound up framing one (which you can see here) but then hung the other one on our gallery wall without a frame (which you can see here). That stained wood finally came in handy as 2 pieces were the perfect size for this wall hanging, yay!

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

stained-wood-for-diy-wall-hanging-mountainmodernlife.com

You can obviously use thinner wood but I opted to go for what we had on hand. Whatever wood you use, I would recommend that it’s at least 2 inches longer than the size of your print (an inch longer on each side). Our boards were actually 3 inches longer than the print – so 1.5 inches longer on each side.

We attached the wood to the foam board by placing the wood flat on the garage floor, placing the foam board on top {image facing down} and used our nail gun to attach the foam board to the wood.

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

We used A LOT of nails. The back may not look pretty, but you can’t see it anyway and the wood and the print are definitely attached. If you don’t have a nail gun you should be fine using a heavy duty stapler.

For some reason I didn’t take photos at this point, or they magically disappeared from my computer, so I hope this makes sense.

Step 6: How to hang your large wall hanging art

I added two eye screws to the top piece of wood, each just a couple inches from the edge. I then wrapped some twine through the eye hooks and tied a knot when I figured out how long I wanted the twine and how far I wanted the print to hang.

TIP: Use a thumbtack to make the hole before inserting the eye screw. It will make it soooo much easier to go in.

We then hung the twine from a heavy duty nail, but you can get creative and use knobs. I was even thinking of gluing a wood slice to the end of the nail.

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

However, once the wall hanging was up on the wall, the bottom wasn’t flush with the wall. That’s not gonna fly.

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

No worries though, we just added a couple picture hanging strips to the back of the foam board – where the wood and foam board meet – and voila, it’s now flush!

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

Here is the large wall hanging in our dining room, which you may have seen in this post about the 2016 color trends, or our upcycled barnwood style cabinets.

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

So what do you think of the large wall hanging art?

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

See how easy it was to turn this watercolor Lake Tahoe image into a large wall hanging from an engineering print! mountainmodernlife.com

This is such an easy way to create large wall hanging art using some of your favorite travel, family or wedding photos, and it would also make a great gift for the holidays, don’t you think?

I recently made a smaller version for our RV and noticed it printed out a bit more blue. That could be because I had this one printed from Walgreens on a wooden plaque vs. as an engineering print from Staples.

8 x 10 Lake Tahoe Print

Buy this printable from the shop!

Due to the number of requests for this image, you can now purchase and instantly download it from the shop!

budget-friendly-wall-art-watercolor-tahoe-print-mountainmodernlife.com_

37 Comments
  • I am so going to do this! Thank you so much for creating this tutorial! I have a beautiful picture I took in Tulum that would be perfect above my bed. I can’t wait to try it.

    November 9, 2015 at 2:37 pm
  • This is super cool! I’m so glad I resd this tutorial, so many ideas now!! Thanks

    November 9, 2015 at 6:02 pm
  • This is such a great idea! I’m with you on loving trees!!

    November 9, 2015 at 10:47 pm
  • It looks fantastic! Thanks for all the tips -pinning to try!

    November 10, 2015 at 12:01 am
  • LOVE this idea and the print goes perfectly with your upcycled sideboard. I love your style so much!

    November 10, 2015 at 1:08 am
  • I”ve always wondered how to do this! Great tutorial and that picture is amazinggggg!!!

    November 10, 2015 at 5:35 pm
  • Oh so beautiful, Katie! I love that photo with the watercolor effect.

    November 12, 2015 at 1:19 am
  • I love it and think that your picture is perfect for this time of year!

    November 12, 2015 at 9:59 pm
  • Zebbie
    Reply

    How much was it for this size of picture at Staples?

    November 19, 2015 at 12:30 pm
  • Ardith
    Reply

    Katie, this is beautiful. Is there a chance you’d consider selling a download version of your image? It’s simply breathtaking. Cheers, Ardith

    November 24, 2015 at 9:42 am
      • Ardith
        Reply

        Yippee! Thank you and looking forward to it. Happy Holidays, Ardith

        December 5, 2015 at 12:57 pm
      • I would love a copy of this print as well!

        February 16, 2016 at 6:49 pm
  • Taylor McDonald
    Reply

    Is that photo available for download? I can’t find any I like better!

    April 9, 2016 at 1:06 pm
  • Monica Graham
    Reply

    I can’t WAIT to do this!!! My son hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and this is a perfect way to display some of his amazing pics!!!! Thank you for paving the way to an incredible DIY project! N

    September 23, 2016 at 7:14 pm
  • Carolyn
    Reply

    Awesome tutorial! I have my engineered print in 36×48 and I’m getting this project done this weekend! One question-why did you choose black foam board over white? Were you concerned at all about the dark showing through all your white space in the pic? My picture is mostly white and it definitely crossed my mind but I can see how the black might look more polished from the side. Anyway, I’m super excited to see how it turns out! Thanks!

    November 18, 2016 at 2:35 pm
  • Jamie W
    Reply

    Thanks for the details! Can’t wait to try it! Wondering how you adhered the print to plywood? Also, do you recall what stain you used on the wood? Love the color 🙂

    March 3, 2017 at 4:53 pm
  • Kyndra
    Reply

    I just tried this with a light colored print and you can most definitely see the seams of the tri-fold board underneath the print. Any suggestions?

    March 23, 2017 at 12:04 am
      • Kyndra
        Reply

        I used clear book tape – figuring it was the thinnest and toughest. Did you tape both sides of the folds?

        March 28, 2017 at 4:09 pm
  • Courtenay
    Reply

    Hi Katie,

    This project looks incredible! I’m not much of a DIY person and was wondering if you ever made/sold these as a final product?

    Thank you!

    April 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm

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