Stretching Canvas

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It seems lately I’ve been stretching a lot of canvas for specialty-sized commissions.
Sizes have ranged from 28”x28” to 7ft (which I am about to tackle today.)

 Thank you JWB Photography (my talented hubby Jeremy Baker) for taking this image for me!

There was a time when I was extremely intimidated by the thought of stretching a canvas until I had an unusual size request from Fogle Fine Art Gallery in Jacksonville, FL about 5 years ago. It was a 24x60 or something along those lines. One of my good friends, business partner and incredibly talented artist, Carol Winner, stretched it for me and then later showed me how to do it myself. It really wasn’t as hard as it looks though depending on the size it can be quite tedious.  

Image and more info on this site: Loft Art Supply

You will need special tools like the ones shown below. 

This is a mallet hammer which is needed to tap the corners or other areas on your frame without placing dents in the wood that a traditional hammer could do. It is VERY important that you use either a level or a T-Sqaure to make sure your frame in level all the way around before adding canvas.

I love using a PowerShot staple gun as the weight of your hands lands in the front right where you are aiming your staples.

These are canvas stretching pliers that actually pulls and holds the canvas as tight as possible while placing your staples in.


For larger canvas sizes you will want to add a stabilizer brace. I usually place one or two in the middle of my frame. I use wood glue and sometimes a finishing nail for extra stability.

Last thing to do is prime your canvas! I usually add three coats of Gesso to insure the cloth canvas is properly sealed.

Here is how you do the job! This is a simple tutorial YouTube video that some may appreciate. Now, I actually place one staple on each side, rotate my frame and then work my way out vs the way he is showing here but I assume either way works just fine!

I took this one morning of a 72"x48" canvas (and our dog Java) I had stretchered. I had added wood filler to the corners for extra stability and allowing it to thoroughly dry in the sun. It was a perfect day just for that!

If you are an artist and would like to add any additional suggestions or links please feel free to leave your comments.



  1. I don't know how I missed this post, Christina. I stretch special sizes too. The stapling part is so much easier with an electric staple gun. I just stretched silk on a frame as a painting experiment.

  2. I desperately need an electric staple gun!!! I need to tell Santa maybe ;)

  3. There was a time when I was extremely intimidated by the thought of stretching a canvas until I had an unusual size request canvas prints canada

  4. I always prefer these types of the things...... wait wait i am not suffering from nostalgia but this is love and affection with the wooden stretcher bars it is very near to me and my heart. I ficus my beloved one in this frames :)


  5. Electric staple gun is very convenient for the wood industry, this is a great product. Thank you for sharing the article.
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