How to frame a canvas painting by yourself

Buying an already framed canvas painting can be expensive due to shipping and logistics.

It’s a lot cheaper to buy the painting and frame it yourself. Unframed paintings are most time packaged in a thick tube to prevent wrinkling or creases to its face.

But you may be wondering how to get this done if you’re not an expert.

In this post, I’ll be explaining how to frame a canvas painting by yourself in 3 easy steps.

Let’s get straight to it.

Step 1: First, mount/stretch the painting on a stretcher frame, if the painting is a rolled canvas painting

How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself

This is what a rolled canvas paintinglooks like. And if this is the kind of painting you have, then we first have to frame it into what we have in the picture below.

How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself

All paintings we’ll like to frame have to first be turned into something like this. Paintings that are in this form are called stretched canvas paintings

The process of turning a rolled canvas painting into a stretched canvas paintings is called “mounting a rolled canvas painting on a stretcher frame”.

Canvas frame

This is an example of a stretcher frame.

So, to mount a rolled canvas painting on a stretcher frame, there are 5 steps we need to take.

Step A: Figure out what area of the rolled canvas painting you’ll like to have shown in the front view of the stretched canvas paintings you intend to create.

Determine the face of the painting and face it upwards carefully to avoid scratches.

How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself
How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself

If you look closely at the second picture above, you can see that the white areas at the edges of the RCP do not show in the stretched canvas paintings.

The reason for this is that, in this case, we wanted just the actual painting to show in the front view.

So when mounting your painting, you also have to decide whether it’s just the white area you don’t want to have shown, or whether you’ll like some part of the white edges to also appear.

Step B: Measure the dimension of the area of what you’ll like to have shown in the front view.

Once you’ve done step A, the next thing to do is to measure the length and the height of that area of the painting that you’ll like to have shown in the painting.

Step C: Get a stretcher frame that has a dimension corresponding to the dimension you got in the measurement taken under step B

So let’s assume that after you’ve done step B, the measurement you got for the length is 9” and the measurement you got for the height is 4”, then you should get a stretcher frame that has a dimension of 9” x 4”.

You can either buy a stretcher frame or make one by yourself if you have framing wood. But it’s best to get a frame at a local shop.

To make a stretcher frame by yourself, just get 4 pieces of wood that when you put them together, and they’ll produce a rectangular frame that has the dimension you got under step B.

In this case, we’ll be getting 4 pieces of wood that when put together, will give a rectangular frame that has a dimension of 9” x 4”.

Canvas frame blocks

When you get these four blocks of wood, fasten them together, with nails, screws, or whichever you prefer.

How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself

Step D: Mount the painting on the stretcher frame

See the image below on the steps to complete it.

framing a canvas painting
How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself
Framing a canvas art
How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself
How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself
How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself
How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself

Step 2: Get a suitable canvas frame, you either buy one or make one.

At this point, the painting with you should be a stretched canvas painting. And now, the next thing to do is to find a suitable canvas frame.

Note that, a stretcher frame is different from a canvas frame. A stretcher frame is a frame on which a rolled painting gets mounted.

A canvas frame on the other hand is a frame used to protect a stretched canvas paintings from scratch, wear and tear.

However, before going ahead to get a canvas frame, you should know that there are 2 types of canvas frame, the traditional canvas frame, and the floating canvas frame.

Traditional canvas frames are simply frames that appear in classic or patterned designs while floating canvas frames are those that accommodate the paintings in a way that makes it seem like the image is just floating within them.

Traditional classic frames

An example of a traditional canvas frame.

Framed canvas

An example of a floating canvas frame.

The image above shows how the canvas painting stays within the canvas frame without making contact with any four sides of the frame.

The steps stated above are easy to follow for floating frames.

Framing a canvas with a traditional frame is also simple. It applies to the same way you’ll put a picture in a picture frame.

While some people prefer to buy floating canvas frames, some would prefer to make the frame themselves. And it’s totally fine if you already have the technical knowledge of woodwork and carpentry.

And if you’re curious about making the frame by yourself, the following is a short tutorial about how to do so.

Making a floating canvas frame

Making a floating canvas frame is very similar to making a stretcher frame by yourself.

To make a stretcher frame by yourself, get four pieces of wood and position them in a rectangular format or according to the painting outlay.

The major difference between making a stretcher frame and making a canvas frame is the measurements.

To make a floating frame, you first have to measure the 3 dimensions of your stretched canvas paintings.

In the picture below, we consider our stretched canvas paintings  to measure — 20” in length, 20” in height, and 1” in depth.

Framed canvase

So to make a floating frame suitable for a canvas painting in the picture above, we’ll get 4 pieces of wood that when put together they’ll give an internal space measuring — 20 1/2” in length, 20 1/2” in height, and 1” in depth.

How to Frame a Canvas Painting Yourself

The reason why the dimension 20 1/2” x 20 1/2” x 1” doesn’t correspond with the dimension of our stretched canvas paintings is that we want 1/4” spaces to be present on all four sides of our stretched canvas paintings to create the floating painting illusion.

If you sum the 20” of the length with 1/4” and another 1/4”, you can see that 20 1/2” is what you’ll get, and if you sum the 20” of the height with 1/4” and another 1/4”, you can see that 20 1/2” is what you’ll get.

When we get 4 pieces of wood that meet our criteria (the 20 1/2” x 20 1/2” x 1” internal dimension), the next to do is to fasten the blocks of wood together, with nails, screws, or whatever we like.

Step 3: Insert the canvas into the frame and fasten them together

At this point, you should have:

  • a stretched canvas paintings; and

(ii) a floating canvas frame. And the next thing to do is to fasten them together at the back, with offset clips and screws, or whatever you prefer or deem appropriate.

Framed canvas painting

The result should look like this.