Canvas Stretching and Framing

Whether you have an un-stretched canvas, or you have a canvas already wrapped around stretcher bars that you would like to display in a frame, Seagull Gallery’s canvas stretching and framing service can help.

Canvas Stretching

If you have an un-stretched canvas (perhaps an original oil or acrylic on canvas, or a print) you will need to have it stretched onto stretcher bars in order to display it.

Stretcher Bars

The stretcher bars we use are made from FSC certified, sustainably grown Baltic Pine.  The outer front edge is rounded to ensure that there will be no impression from the stretcher on the face of the canvas. The stretcher bars are joined at the corner with mortise and tenon joints rather than being glued or pinned. Canvas keys (or wedges) are inserted into the inside of the corners so that the stretched canvas can be “tapped out” in the future to re-tension it if it slackens over time. If your canvas is large, then cross braces will also be added to the stretcher to give it more strength.

How would you like your canvas to be stretched?

When stretching a canvas you have a choice of whether you would like the edges of the image to wrap around onto the sides of the stretchers. This is a commonly used approach for canvasses you want to display without the addition of a frame. This is called a “Gallery Wrap” Alternatively you may want the whole image displayed on the front face of the canvas and are happy to have the spare blank canvas visible on the sides. This is called a "Conventional or Museum Wrap" depending on the location of the securing staples (Conventional on the back, Museum on the sides).

When stretching a canvas, you will need to have sufficient surplus canvas around the outside of the main image to allow for the depth of the stretcher bar plus the width of bar so, for example, on a 25mm deep stretcher bar you will need 25mm surplus canvas to cover the sides of the bars plus another 45-50mm of surplus canvas to wrap behind the bar where it will be attached. If you do not, then some of the outside edge of the image will have to be sacrificed to enable the canvas to be secured correctly onto the back of the bars.

Framing for Canvas and Board

If your canvas is already stretched on to bars, or you have a painting on a board that you would like to display in a frame, there are two approaches to choose from:

  • The Canvas Tray Frame - Your canvas or board is framed within a canvas tray moulding. This method allows you to see the whole of the face of the canvas or board.  A gap of 3-6mm is left between the edge of the artwork and the tray to enable it to expand and contract naturally without damaging the frame or warping the canvas or board. Museum stretching is not sufficient when framing into a tray frame, as the staples may be visible in the gap between the moulding and artwork.
  • A standard picture frame moulding - You can also choose from a wide range of standard frame mouldings as a surround for your canvas or board. When you choose this approach, a small part of the outside edge of the front of the canvas or board will be hidden under the rebate of the frame. As with a tray frame, an expansion gap is needed between the outside edge of the canvas and the inner edge of the frame under the rebate. Museum stretching is sufficient when framing into a standard moulding.

You may choose to have a canvas or painting on board glazed to provide extra protection from the environment. 

Oil paintings need to breathe, so normally, framing would not include glass. If you prefer glass for your art, a frame with a spacer between the art and the glass and an unsealed back will allow the glass to protect the piece and still allowed it to breathe, but may still allow for a build up of condensation.