How to Frame a Canvas

Written by Mark Rogers

Most framing projects are simple, with a flat print that slides effortlessly into one of our easy-to-assemble canvas frames. With certain pieces of artwork, however, it may take extra components and just a little bit more time — especially when you’ve bought a one-of-a-kind painting or a specialty canvas print.

Introduction to Canvas Prints and Paintings

Canvas is a type of woven fabric upon which artists can paint or, more recently, print, using specialty printers. There are two ways to purchase them: stretched onto a wooden frame or rolled. Canvases on stretcher bars require another frame: either a standard wood or metal picture frame, or a canvas floater frame to finish the piece. Rolled canvas must first be stretched and placed into wooden stretcher bars before they are framed.

How to Frame Rolled Canvas

There are different reasons you might purchase a rolled canvas print instead of one that’s already been stretched onto a frame. You may pay less money for a rolled canvas, or you may prefer to have the canvas stretched just prior to framing to ensure it doesn’t loosen. Other times, it’s the only option available.

If you’ve purchased a rolled canvas print or painting, you’ll need to stretch the canvas before framing it. Note that rolled canvas paintings should actually be rolled with the paint on the outside, which may seem counterintuitive; however, this puts less stress on the paint and reduces the chances of cracking.

To frame a rolled canvas, you’ll need a few extra items:

Step 1: Measure The Height and Width

First, you’ll need to measure the height and width of your canvas to see what frame size you’ll need. Make sure to leave enough canvas to fold and staple to the stretcher bar. If you need to cut the canvas because there is an excess that makes folding impossible or bulky, leave at least two inches of canvas to fold over and stretch.

Tip: Use shorter stretcher bars if youre using a wood frame. For a floater frame, read our guide to pairing canvas floater frames with stretcher bars to find the right size.

Step 2: Place Canvas Face down on Clean Surface

Place your canvas face down on a clean surface. To ensure that the canvas is placed evenly, measure the distance between the corners; they should be the same.

Step 3: Fold the Canvas

Starting on one of the shorter sides of the canvas, fold one side of the “extra” canvas over the stretcher bar and use the canvas pliers to hold it in place. If you’re not using canvas pliers, you can simply begin stapling. Staple once in the middle of the folded piece of canvas.

Step 4: Turn Over and Repeat

Turn the canvas to the opposite side (180 degrees) and repeat the folding and stapling step until all sides have one staple in the center.

Step 5: Pull the Canvas

Once each side of the frame has a single staple, pull the canvas slightly — not too much, or your canvas won’t be able to shrink or expand — and add a staple on both sides of the middle staple, spaced evenly apart.

Step 6: Fold the Corners

Fold the corners by tucking one side under the other, making sure you’re pulling tightly. Cut the tip of the corner before folding down and then staple it to the frame.

Step 7: Place in Final Frame

Once your canvas is stretched, you can place it into its final frame.

how to stretch canvas A canvas stretched over stretcher bars.

Framing Stretched Canvas Prints and Paintings

When framing a canvas print that’s already been stretched onto stretcher bars, you’ll have less work to do — but you may need help choosing the right frame!

You can choose a wood picture frame, metal frame, or floater frame for stretched canvas artwork, the latter of which is made especially for canvases. For all types of frames, make sure that the rabbet (groove) of the frame is larger than the thickness of the stretcher bar so that the artwork fits within it. A wood frame with a rabbet that is too small will force the artwork away from the wall; in the case of a metal frame, you simply will not be able to slide the canvas inside.

Most pre-stretched canvases are one of three thicknesses: 5/8, 3/4, and 1½ inches. Frame Destination carries a number of wood and metal frames suitable for these standard sizes

 

5/8" 3/4" 1-1/2" 1-3/4" 2"
Wood Frames
310 x x
502B x x
503 x x
502A x x
851 x x
865 x x
880 x x
S24 x x
S30 x x
532 x x
568 x x
574 x
581 x x
713 x x
728 x x
760 x x
876 x x
Metal Frames
117 x x
117A x x
117V x x
94 x
95 x x
34 x
37 x
22 x x
Floater Frames
F120 x x
F140 x x
F306 x x
F361 x x
M013 x x
M014 x
F797 x x
F530 x x x

If you choose a wood frame with a rabbet larger than the canvas, order picture-frame points with your frame at the required depth. If you choose a metal frame that has a much deeper rabbet than your canvas print’s stretcher bar, you may need to use spring clips to hold it in place. Canvas floater frames from Frame Destination come with offset clips, which are available in two depths.

Note: If youd like to frame your canvas print as if it were a picture within a picture frame, its possible! Select a frame with a rabbet deep enough for your stretched canvas, You can also switch the offset clips around and have the back of the canvas actually be the back of the framed piece

Buying canvas prints and paintings, whether rolled or pre-stretched onto stretcher bars, can add significant sophistication to your home or office decor — and the right frame only enhances it.

Updated August 23, 2021

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9 thoughts on “How to Frame a Canvas”

  • Carrie Halvorson
    Carrie Halvorson August 11, 2019 at 6:41 am

    Do u have this size 80x150cm frame for Canvas painting

    Reply
  • Prasanth

    Hello - I have canvas print of below sizes, can you help me with choosing the correct wood frame size

    Canvas 4 pieces Without Frame - 2 x(15.75in x 31.50in) + 2 x(15.75in x39.35in)

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Prasanth - If you're wanting actual frames for the canvases, we size by the inner size of the frame so you would order the exact same size as the canvas. If you're wanting to do a canvas floater frame, our calculator will automatically add an inch to your canvas size to allow for some float space between the canvas and the frame.

      Reply
  • Brittany

    Is it possible to frame a rolled canvas as you would a paper print? Would sagging be an issue?

    Thank you

    Reply
  • Piotr

    Guys do someone knows the name of the type of paper that is used in the first picture in this article? Please help me out

    Reply
  • James

    I love canvas prints, but I really want to frame them as if they were a picture in a picture frame. Is this possible, or am I just nuts?

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi James - We have lots of clients that do this. You can choose a frame with a rabbet deep enough for your stretched canvas, or you can switch the offset clips around and have the back of the canvas actually be the back of the framed piece.

      Reply
  • Taylor Hansen

    Thanks for mentioning the different thicknesses for pre-stretched canvases. I want to make a canvas print of my family to hang in our living room. I'll be sure to find a printing service that can help me out with the dimensions. http://paintingdaisiesphoto.com/shop/ols/categories/giclee-canvas-prints

    Reply
  • Sherri Summerford
    Sherri Summerford January 15, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    I have a canvas portrait I would like to get framed do you all handle that

    Reply
    • Heather

      Good afternoon Sherri,
      We have a variety of canvas floater frames we recommend for canvas paintings. The first thing we recommend is measuring the width and height and the depth.
      You can browse at the link below of the canvas floater frames we offer, and make sure to check the canvas depth on each and compare to the depth of your canvas.
      Many customers like both a recessed, flush and even a small overlap look, so it really is personal preference.



      Please give us a call if you have any questions at all!
      Have a great day!

      Reply
  • Denise Nelson

    My husband wants to frame a couple of printed canvas paintings under glass to keep it from getting dirty. Can this be done if you leave the back open and the painting does not touch the glass? Where they will be hung does not have any issues with sunlight.

    Reply
    • Heather

      Hi Denise,
      You can do this, however you will want to make sure the frame you choose has a deep enough rabbet depth to hold the canvas and glass.

      Thank you,
      Heather

      Reply
  • Shammy Peterson
    Shammy Peterson June 18, 2021 at 11:51 am

    I found it helpful when you suggested measuring the height and width of your canvas in order to determine the size of the frame that you will need. This is something that I will share with my sister since she mentioned last night over a phone call that they are interested in hiring an event painter. She said that her fiance wanted a live painter to capture a magical moment on their wedding day. I could imagine how framing the artwork could preserve it for a long time. https://weddingdaypainter.com/services.html

    Reply
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