How to Frame a Canvas Print?

Framing Canvas Prints

This question comes out a fair amount online so we thought we would address it for our customers. Please note however that we specialise in offering stretched canvas prints primarily as we subsidise the stretching of these artworks, i.e. the price includes the whole package, however there are situations where our customers are looking to travel with the art or send it overseas as a gift and they do ask us this question, how to frame a canvas print? So in the interest of sharing information, we drafted up this guide that we hope you’ll find useful.

First of all a short introduction to what are Canvas Prints and Wall Canvases:

Canvas is a type of woven fabric upon which artists can paint or, more recently, companies are individuals can print with specialty printers and inks. There are a variety of canvas options to look out for ranging from 100% cotton canvas which we use here at blue horizon prints through to the more plasticky polycotton, then this canvas can be in a variety of thicknesses, the thickness of a canvas is classified in a metric called GSM.

‘The weight or grade of the canvas is generally expressed in ounces per square yard (oz), or grams per square metre (gsm)’

There are two ways to purchase a canvas print: stretched over a wooden frame or just a rolled canvas. It’s worth a guest mention that there is also a term for a canvas set within a wooden frame, depending on where you live these are called floating frames or floater frames.

How to Frame a Rolled Canvas Print

There are a number of different reasons why someone might purchase a rolled canvas print instead of one that’s already been stretched onto a frame. A rolled canvas is a cheaper option although you will be required to frame it (stretch it) yourself or find a local company to do it for you which can be more expensive. Secondly, if you are looking to send the artwork overseas or travel with it then a rolled canvas is a lot more transportable.

Stretched Canvas
A Stretched Canvas

The DIY Option

If you’ve purchased a rolled canvas print or painting, you’ll need to stretch it out before framing it get rid of those creases. Please note that a rolled canvas painting should always be rolled with the paint on the outside, which may seem counterintuitive; however, this puts less much stress on the paint and reduces the chances of the paint cracking and deteriorating.

To frame a rolled canvas, you’ll need a few extra items: (many of these can be bought from craft stores).

  • Stretcher Bar Frame
  • Staple Gun
  • Canvas Pliers (these are optional but recommended)
  • Laminate (optional but recommended, especially in a harsh environment like Australia)

Step 1: Firstly, you’ll need to measure the height and width of your canvas to see what frame size you’ll need. Make sure you leave enough canvas to fold and staple over the edges of 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.

Step 2: Place your canvas face down on a clean surface. Ensure that the canvas is placed evenly by measuring the distance between the corners; they should be the same.

Step 3: Starting from one of the shorter sides of the canvas, fold one side of the 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 this in place once in the middle of the folded piece of canvas.

Step 4: Turn the canvas to the opposite side, (turning it 180 degrees) and repeat the process, folding and stapling until all sides are done.

Step 5: Once each side of the frame has a single staple holding it in place, pull the canvas taught — not too much, or your canvas won’t be able to shrink or expand also you run the risk of tearing it, then and add a staple on either side of the middle one, spacing them evenly apart.

Step 6: Fold the corners by tucking one side under the other, making sure that you are pulling tightly. Cut the tip of the corner before folding down and then staple it to the frame.

Once your canvas is stretched, you can place it into its final frame and voila! You have a stretched canvas print ready for you to add the fittings in order to hang it on the wall, see our other blogs here and here for details on how to do this.