How To Stretch A Canvas For Painting

Have you ever seen a painting hung on the wall without a frame or border? That’s right. All the paintings require the support of a frame for them to look more presentable. This is done by stretching the canvas. Stretching the canvas is done either before the painting process or after, but it is an integral part of the whole process. 

This blog will give you a step-by-step guide on how to stretch your canvas on a frame at home because getting professional help for it is expensive and time-consuming. Anyone can complete this process in 15 to 20 minutes if they know how to do it.

How To Stretch A Canvas For Painting

Stretch-Rolled Art

Whenever a painting is made, there are only two ways to store it. One is to roll it like a cylinder, and the other is to put it in a frame. What you do depends on where the painting has to go. If it has to be kept in your storeroom for some amount of time, you can roll it and keep it there. But if it has to be sold or placed in an art gallery, it needs to be stretched and mounted onto a frame.

How To Stretch And Mount A Painted Canvas On A Frame

Stretching a canvas is a process that’s done before or after the painting is finished. It gives the canvas the tension it needs and a firm surface for you to paint on. 

Putting it in a frame is slightly different than stretching the canvas. So, no matter what, you will have to stretch the canvas at the final step for it to be placed perfectly in a frame. Nowadays, some machines can assist in stretching, but the most common way to stretch a canvas is by hand. Here are the steps you need to follow to stretch your canvas by hand:

  • Step One: Gather Your Canvas Stretching Kit

While there isn’t a long list of materials and equipment, some very important items will help you do this process with ease. You will need a stapler, a measuring tape, and a hammer, which are the three most important items for this process. 

Gather Your Canvas Stretching Kit

If you don’t already have the board, you can make one using wood frames and some nails. If you’re comfortable with some other things that serve the same purpose, you can use them as well.

  • Step Two: Do The Canvas Measurement

The word canvas here means the painted area. It should have equal borders on all sides so that no part of the painting gets folded or hidden behind the frame. The canvas will get attached and stretched onto the canvas board, and hence, the painted area should be of the same measurement as that of the canvas board. 

  • Step Three: Make The Frame

Ready-made frames are present at any paint shop. But if you’re into DIY, making the frame isn’t as hard as it sounds. You need four wooden bars of the size you want. If they’re longer, you can cut them using a saw to the desired length. 

You can cut the edges of the wooden bars at 45° so that they will fit perfectly together. Now, use epoxy to join the four wooden pieces together to make your frame, or you can use small nails. Give the epoxy on the frame some time to cool, and then you’re ready to go to the next step.

  • Step Four: Stretch The Canvas

Position the painting on a rug or a clean carpet with the paint side facing down. So that it does not catch dirt. Place the wooden frame on top of it and place it in a manner so that it’s directly at the center of the painting. Now, the correct method is to staple at the center of one side of the frame first. Fold the painting onto the wood, staple it, and repeat this process for all four sides.

Be mindful that enough tension is created at the center of the frame. Also, staple only one pin to one side. If you staple one side completely, it may not be easy to undo in the event of a misalignment.

If your wooden frame is small, it's fine to move back and forth to staple the painting. However, for larger canvases, it's important to incorporate support angles inside the wooden frame. This will give a secure hold to all four sides and keep them tightly intact. Here is one image for your reference. There are multiple ways you can place the inner support bars.

Stretch The Canvas

Now, come back to the first side, where you stapled first, and staple again on the left and right sides of that staple, almost 1.5 inches aside. Repeat the process on all four sides, and keep doing this process until you reach the corners of the canvas. 

For the corners, you need to follow a two-fold system, like when we wrap presents; at the corners, we need a folding approach for it to sit properly. This would be done, as shown in the image below, by folding to one side and then folding the other side on top of it. After this is done, you need to staple on both sides of the fold and, finally, 3–4 staples on top of the fold.

Making Canvas Corners

Stretching The Canvas: Before Or After The Painting?

It is usually advised to stretch the canvas before painting so that there’s no chance of the paint flaking or cracking. However, it can be done afterward as well, but you need to be more careful while doing it. In any case, the main framing of the painting is done at the end, and it does require some form of stretching.

Framing A Painting

In one method of framing, the painting is first removed from the stretched canvas. The frame is placed on the painting, with the painted side facing the ground. Extra sides on all four ends of the canvas are cut. The sides are then folded and attached to the frame with some support.

Frame from side

Another form of framing involves simply placing the stretched painting in the frame built for its specific size and securing it with screws on the back end. This is more common with larger paintings.

Rolled Canvas Versus Stretched Canvas

Both are completely different forms of storing a canvas, and both have their pros and cons. Following are some of their differences:

  • Transportation and Storage: Rolled canvases are the clear winner here because stretched canvases can get damaged during storage and transportation and take up more space.
  • Cost: Rolled canvases are more affordable than stretched canvases.
  • Display: Stretched canvases are ready to be displayed, whereas rolled canvases need to be mounted first.
  • Quality: Because of the tension in the stretched canvas, the painting looks sharper than that of a rolled or unstretched canvas. 

Rolled Canvas Versus Stretched Canvas


Both of these systems have their pros and cons and are subject to where the painting needs to go and for what purpose it needs to be used. For presentation, stretched canvases are the clear winner. Whereas for storing, there is no better option than a rolled canvas.  


How do I hang a rolled canvas?

First, the canvas would need to be stretched onto a frame. After that, the frame can then be hung onto a wall.

How much does it cost to stretch a canvas?

Stretching a canvas can cost you between $8 to $25 per linear foot, or between $50 to $250 per art piece on average. However, doing it yourself at home is an easy process and won’t cost you half as much. 

Where can I get the canvas stretched?

Almost all of the professional artists servicing galleries and shops can get your canvas stretched. You can search for your nearby art frame shop on Google Maps. 

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