How To Stretch And Frame A Canvas - DIY Guide

Stretched blue canvas close-up photo

If you have recently entered the painting world, you are likely already familiar with a stretched canvas – the core template for any painting. A stretched and framed canvas is always necessary before starting your next (or first) masterpiece, and it is much easier to do it at home than you might think. Your canvas is an integral part of the final product, so you have to follow these rules as closely as you can; a poorly stretched canvas could ruin your whole painting.

Framed Canvas On Living Room Wall

1. Acquire the frame and canvas

First and foremost, you will (unsurprisingly) need the frame, also known as stretcher bars – this will usually come in the form of four ‘bars’ that will be assembled later. The bars are usually available in many different sizes, so scale them to the ideal size for your magnum opus.

The canvas is another obvious and essential ingredient, but be sure that the amount you buy is appropriate for the size of the frame. A good estimate is to have about fifteen centimetres of additional space to fit around the bars.

2. Get any other necessary tools

You will likely already have most of the things needed for a good canvas stretching job, but you might need to get a few special supplies. Water, particularly in the form of a spray bottle, can be sprayed upon the back of a canvas so that it stretches further as it dries. You will also need something to fasten the frame and canvas together – you can use drawing pins or a staple gun for this.

3. Prepare the frame and canvas

If your frame needs to be assembled, now is the time to do it. They should easily slot together if the frame did not arrive pre-assembled. The canvas now needs to be cut. Again, you should be aware of how this fits with the frame, and the amount you cut will again need to be around 15 centimetres bigger on each side than the frame. A utility knife is recommended for the cutting, though it is perhaps better to tear it as this will provide a straighter line.

4. Bring them together and finish the job

Smooth out your canvas and lay it down, then place the frame in the centre. Stretch the longest sides of the canvas over the frame, and insert several pins or staples into each (about three) to secure them – do not do this too close to the corners, however.

This might be a good time to spray the visible back of the canvas once or twice. Afterwards, repeat the above process with the shorter sides – though two pins or staples are probably sufficient for this. Stretch and fold the corners neatly, then pin them, making sure it is fully taught.

Now, let the canvas dry for a day or two. Afterwards, you are ready to paint on it.

It is easier than it sounds to stretch and frame your canvas before you start painting. At Sunshine Coast Art & Framing, we are happy to provide the frames and other materials to help you with this – if you still prefer the professional touch, we can stretch and frame them for you. Feel free to visit our store, or contact us if you need more information

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