How to Correctly Stretch a Canvas Without Damaging It

How to Stretch a Canvas
Painters will be familiar with the idea that stretching canvas on a frame can be a tedious job. Read the following ArtHearty article for some easy steps.
ArtHearty Staff
Last Updated: Jul 16, 2017
Canvas is a multipurpose heavy material used for many industrial purposes and also in the construction of sails, tents, pavilions and in almost all places where strong and durable material is required. Today, it is prepared mostly using heavy cotton and it is different than the other heavy cotton fabrics like denim. The canvas for painting is available in the pre-stretched state but they are often expensive. If you do the same on your own can save you a lot of money.

Onto a Frame

  • Stretcher bar
  • Canvas
  • Hammer
  • Staple gun with 3/8 inch staples
  • Measuring tape or a T-square
Take four stretcher bars (two of the same size) that will make a frame. Cut them into the size of the frame that you need to make. Lay the stretcher bars on the ground and the corners towards each other. Use a rubber hammer to fix them together, make sure that you don't dent the bars. Now stretch the canvas and place it on the ground. Make sure that it is minimum two inches bigger than the wooden frame. It should be stretched from the longer side of the frame as it will help in fixing easily. Use pliers for stretching as they will prevent tearing of any intensity. Always make sure to staple the it at the back of the wooden frame. Use as many staples as you need, beginners take more staples than the experts. You need to be very cautious at the side of the frame. Fold the corner edges neatly over each other and fix them.

Stretching a Canvas Painting
Mostly when we buy such a painting, it comes in a big roll that is hard to stretch. Here are some tips that you might like to follow.
  • Measure the sides of the painting (length and width) and then buy the wooden stretcher bars which are 2 inch smaller as you need to wrap its corners onto the frame.
  • Create the wooden frame using the above-described procedure and put it over the painted canvas (placed on the ground as painted side down). Fold the edges over the frame and use a stapler for fixing.
It is always useful if you try to do this activity with a little help of a friend. Your friend will help you hold the canvas while you fix it to the wooden frame with the staples.
Gallery wrap blank canvas on wooden frame