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How to Frame Stretched Canvas

How to frame stretched canvas
How to frame stretched canvas

If you’ve been wondering how to frame stretched canvas, you’re not alone. 

Stretched canvas presents some unique challenges when it comes to choosing a frame, especially due to the fact that many aren’t designed to hold components more than ¾” thick. This is a problem, as a canvas stretched on a framework made of stretcher bars typically runs from up to 2 ¼”  thick.

To be clear, the frames for stretched canvas can hold the canvas itself, but not without a portion of the stretcher sticking out of the back. If the canvas doesn’t drop fully into the frame, it cannot be secured by driving points into the walls of the frame recess to hold it in. 

So what do you do?

Types of frames for stretched canvas

Regular Frames with Offset Clips

One option is to accept this imperfect state of affairs and secure the canvas in the frame using offset clips. 

Off-set clips are designed to reach up and overlap contents that protrude from the back of a frame. This is a good option for a stretched canvas that is only marginally thicker than the frame is deep (about ¼” or less). The amount of canvas that protrudes is minimal and not visible from the front or sides of the frame. 

Additionally, using a regular frame with offset clips permits the framer to choose from a broader selection of frame styles. See our selection of offset clips.

Shadowbox and Canvas Frames

Shadowbox and canvas frames are also great options, as they are deep enough to hold the thickness of the stretched canvas. 

The only drawback is that they are limited in terms of style: Most are flat-faced with minimal accents or ornamentation, but we are adding more all the time. You can see our shadowbox and canvas frames here and our shadowbox and canvas moldings here.

Floater Frames

Floater frames are front-loading frames that make it look as though the canvas is floating. 

For those seeking a larger selection of frames for stretched canvas, these are a good choice. They are available in a variety of colors and depths, and some even come with subtle design accents (but many are without ornamentation). See out floater frames here and our floater mouldings here.

Gallery Wraps

Framers might also consider foregoing a frame altogether and instead choose to do a gallery wrap. A gallery wrap is when a canvas is stretched on bars in such a way that part of the image is wrapped around the side of the bars. Typically, these are associated with contemporary and abstract art.

There are pros and cons to choosing a gallery wrap. Without the frame, gallery wraps have the obvious advantage of being cost-effective. However, they require meticulous planning, down to the time stretched, and are often stylistically inappropriate for paintings displayed in a traditional setting.

While framing stretched canvas presents an altogether different set of challenges than framing art on paper, several options do exist to address those challenges. Choose the right one and your canvas will be presented in a way the is pleasing and appropriate.


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