How to Frame a Canvas

Five Parts:Buying a FrameFraming the CanvasAttaching a Wire HangerAttaching a Dust JacketHanging the Framed Canvas

Picture frames allow you to hang canvases while still protecting them. Framing a stretched canvas is quite different from framing a picture, since it does not require glass or a frame with a back cover.[1] You can buy all of the materials to frame your canvas at an art supply or craft store.

Part 1
Buying a Frame

  1. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 1
    Measure the canvas. Use a tape measure to determine the length, width, and depth of the canvas. Write the measurements down and keep them handy; this will help when you’re shopping for a frame.
    • Most tape measures have markings in 1/16 increments, so pay careful attention when measuring.
    • Being off by even 1/8 of an inch can mean buying the wrong frame size.[2]
    • Double check the measurements to make sure they are exact.[3]
  2. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 2
    Choose a frame that compliments the canvas. Frames are just as varied as the canvases they hold, so select a frame based on how you want the finished product to look. Some contrast between the canvas and the frame is pleasing to the eye.
    • Avoid frames that are very similar in color to the canvas.[4]
    • Contrast the style of the canvas with the style of the frame.[5]
    • Simple paintings will look good with ornate frames, and edgy modern art will look good in plainer frames.
    • In general, less is more.[6] Don’t choose a frame that detracts from what is on the canvas.
  3. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 3
    Buy a frame from a craft store. Now that you have the canvas’s measurements and know what style of frame you want, you can shop for a frame. Find one that is the same length, width, and depth of your canvas.
    • The standard frame sizes are 8×10, 11×14, 16×20, 18×24, 20×24, 24×30, and 30×40, but some stores will have other sizes like 10×20.[7]
    • If you’re shopping in-store, call the store to see if they carry the size you’re looking for. This will save you from making multiple trips to different stores.
    • Keep a list of what prices stores offer. This will help you find the best deal.
    • Shopping online for a frame is another good option. Websites will have the exact dimensions of the frames they sell online.
  4. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 4
    Buy canvas clips. These usually come in packs of four and can easily be found in a store or online.[8] One pack of four is enough to frame one canvas.
    • Usually, the canvas clips do not require screws.
    • The types of canvas clips that require screws come in seven sizes: 1/8, ¼, 3/8, ½, ¾, 1, 1 ¼.[9]
    • Measure the frame back to the back of the stretcher bar to find out which size you need.[10]

Part 2
Framing the Canvas

  1. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 5
    Insert the canvas into the frame. Lay the frame face down on a flat surface, and place the canvas inside with the decorated side down.
    • Ensure that you do not scratch the decorated side of the canvas when setting it into the frame.
    • The canvas should sit on the frame's inner lip.
    • If the canvas is bulging out of the frame or is uneven, rearrange it so it sits perfectly inside the frame.
    • Keep in mind that every frame will be different; some fit very tightly, and others are looser.[11]
  2. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 6
    Attach the clip-on canvas clips, if these are the kind you bought. Pick one side to start with. Notice where the edge of the canvas meets the edge of the frame. Slide the pointed end of the clip in between the frame and the canvas’s edge. Then, pull the clip over the stretcher bar and press firmly in place.
    • The stretcher bar is what the canvas is stapled to.
    • Push down on the clip hard enough to ensure it stays in place.
    • Attach the other three clips in the same way.
    • Space the clips evenly around the canvas.
  3. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 7
    Attach the canvas clips that require screws, if these are the kind you bought. Position the clips where you want them on the frame.[12] One in the middle of each stretcher bar will work.
    • Then, use a pencil to draw a mark in the holes of the canvas clip, and draw marks for all four canvas clips.
    • Ensure the marks are dark enough for you to see, then drill a small pilot hole at each mark, taking caution to not drill through the frame or stretcher bar.[13]
    • Set the clips over the holes, and use screws to secure them.
  4. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 8
    Turn the painting over carefully. Now, you can check the finished product. The frame should fit snugly around the canvas. If the canvas slides out, you probably need to push the canvas clips down more tightly.

Part 3
Attaching a Wire Hanger

  1. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 9
    Lay the canvas face down. The decoration should be right side up. If you are not sure the canvas is right side up, lift the canvas to check. With a pencil, draw a small mark on the stretcher bar that is the top side of the decoration. This will allow you to remember which side is the top. The wire will be in the right location if you keep the canvas right side up.
  2. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 10
    Mark where the hanger screws will go. Beginning from the top stretcher bar you just marked, draw a pencil mark 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down the canvas’s side stretcher bars. Look at the measurements of the canvas to determine how far down the mark should be.
    • For example, a painting that is 16 inches (40.7 cm) in length will have a mark about 5 inches (12.7 cm) from the top.[14] Divide the length by 3 to figure this number out.
    • Use the tape measure to draw a mark 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down both sides.
    • Make sure both sides have a mark at the exact same spot.[15]
  3. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 11
    Attach the hanger screws. Screw each eye screw into the stretcher bar at the two points marked. Do not damage the decorated area of the canvas while attaching the screws.
  4. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 12
    Cut the hanger wire. Add 6 to 8 inches (15.2 to 20.3 cm) to the width of the canvas to determine the length of wire you will cut.[16]
    • For example, if your canvas is 24 inches (61 cm) wide, then your hanger wire will be 30 to 32 inches (76.2 to 81.3 cm) long.
    • Measure out the wire length you need with a tape measure.
    • Use long-nose pliers to cut the desired length of hanger wire.
  5. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 13
    Attach the first end of the hanger wire. First, lay the wire down horizontally on the back of the canvas. Beginning with either side, make a knot by first pulling one end of the wire underneath and through the eyehook. Now, pull the wire half an inch through the eyehook.[17]
    • Then, take the edge of the wire, and make a “P” shape by pulling the wire underneath itself. This should still be using only half an inch of the wire.
    • Push the tip of the wire through the circle of the “P” shape.
    • Then, pull the wire tightly. The “P” shape will disappear into a knot.
    • Repeat on the other side.
    • The wire should be slack enough to move 1 inch (2.5 cm) when hung on a nail.

Part 4
Attaching a Dust Jacket

  1. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 14
    Cut a sheet of kraft paper that is the size of the framed canvas. A dust cover is essentially a piece of paper, usually strong kraft paper, taped to the back of the canvas. This is a cheap and easy way to protect your canvas.[18]
    • Make sure the sheet of kraft paper you buy is bigger or equal in size to the framed canvas.
    • If the kraft paper curls after you cut it, flatten it under a heavy, flat object such as a book or glass pane.[19]
    • Once the kraft paper is flat, you can now attach it to the canvas.
  2. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 15
    Apply double sided tape to the stretchers. Using an ATG tape gun, apply double sided tape to each stretcher bar 1/8 of an inch from the edge.[20] Do this for all four sides, and try to keep the tape in a straight line.
  3. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 16
    Attach the kraft paper. Place the kraft paper firmly on top of the stretchers, ensuring that each edge of the kraft paper lines up with the edge of each stretcher bar.
    • Press the edges firmly down.
    • If there’s excess paper, you can trim it with a knife or scissors.
    • Now, you’re ready to hang the canvas!

Part 5
Hanging the Framed Canvas

  1. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 17
    Choose where to hang the framed canvas. If you want the picture to get more attention, hang it in a busy area like a doorway or the middle of a room. If it isn’t an important picture, put it in a less busy area like a hallway or the corner of a room.
  2. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 18
    Find a wall stud for large pictures. For small to medium pictures, it is not necessary to find a wall stud, but for larger frames, a wall stud is necessary to hang it safely.[21]
    • From the center of a wall, wall studs are usually spaced 16-24 inches apart.[22]
    • Use a measuring tape to find out where your wall stud is likely to be.
    • Some people can hear wall studs by knocking on a wall with their knuckles. When the sound changes, there is a wall stud nearby.
  3. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 19
    Hammer a nail into the wall. Grasp the nail with your thumb and first finger, and strike the nail with enough force for it to enter the wall.[23] Remove your fingers once the nail is steadily inserted into the wall, and continue hammering until only a few centimeters of the nail is still outside of the wall.
    • A standard 16-ounce hammer will suffice.[24]
    • One 2-inch nail will support most pictures.[25]
    • Try to hammer the nail at a 45 degree angle.[26]
    • Hanging pictures 57 inches off the ground is standard. This is the average human eye-height and is regularly used in galleries and museums.[27]
  4. Image titled Frame a Canvas Step 20
    Place the frame on the nail. Lift the frame, and place the hanger wire on the wall over the nail. Remove your hands slowly, and the frame should hang.
    • Ensure that the frame hangs safely and is not too heavy for the nail.
    • If the frame is too heavy, use another nail to support it.
    • Check that the frame hangs straight. If not, adjust it.


  • Most canvases will require 4 to 6 canvas clips to secure the canvas in the frame. If the canvas is 24 by 36 inches (61 by 91.4 cm) or larger, use 8 canvas clips.

Things You Will Need

  • The canvas you want to frame
  • Tape measure
  • Picture frame
  • Canvas clips (note: canvas clips that need screws will require 2 screws each)
  • 2 eye screws
  • Wire
  • Long-nose pliers
  • Nail or hook
  • Hammer
  • 2 inch nail
  • Brown or black paper
  • Glue
  • ATG tape gun
  • Screwdriver
  • Small drill

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Decorative Home Paintwork | Painting