Canvas Frames are hugely popular at the moment and with so many ways to get a canvas on the wall we thought it would be helpful to discuss the options for canvas framing and canvas stretching. There are basically two techniques in order to frame a canvas, one is to stretch the canvas around a frame and the other is to stick the canvas to a wooden board or foam core and place a frame around the outside. Below we will discuss each option in detail with the positive and negatives of both.
Firstly, canvas stretching is the correct way to “frame” a canvas. Stretching a canvas over a wooden bar, which is called a stretcher bar, is an age-old technique and it is used by art galleries all over the world. Now if you were thinking that this were a simple way to frame and go directly for the cheapest quote you would be mistaken. There are many varieties of stretcher bars on the market, each with different widths, heights and strengths and choosing a framer that is educated in selecting the correct one for your canvas is vital in receiving a quality product to hang on your wall. Some picture framers use cheap and inferior stretcher bars to save on expense and then place backing supports or a brace in between the stretcher bar to add extra support so it will not bow or warp. Many people believe this “support” brace is a good thing but unfortunately it is not, and it is the first sign that the materials are cheap and inferior. This is the incorrect way to make a stretcher bar frame for a canvas and will most likely not hold the tension of the canvas in the long term and it will eventually bow or warp. Using the correct stretcher bar means that back support is not required, and the canvas can be pulled under immense tension, causing a drum like sound when the canvas is tapped from the front. Canvases that are stretched over a correct bar will last forever without any bowing, warping or loss of tension.
Once your canvas is stretched over a stretcher bar, you have the option of leaving it like this and hanging it on the wall, which is what most people do, or you can add a picture frame around the outside for an added touch of elegance or drama, depending on the look you are going for. When choosing a picture frame though, it is always a good idea to try and find one that covers the depth of the stretcher bar so you get a neat and finished look on the side of your frame, rather than seeing the stretcher bar poking out from behind the frame. Alternatively, you could also use what is called an L-Bar or what some people refer to as a “floating” frame. These frames are in the shape of an “L”, hence the name, and the stretched canvas sits inside the “L” and the outside of the frame sits around the outside of the canvas. Framers can also leave a gap, usually around 10mm, for an added “floating” effect. L-Bars are specifically designed for canvases and are the correct and on-trend way to frame a stretched canvas.
The second way to get a canvas up onto a wall to display it is to stick it down onto a wooden board and place a frame around it. This technique is typically used when the quality of the canvas is poor, for example, it may have a tear, or it is tearing when its being stretching, or there is simply not enough canvas around the outside of the painting to stretch around the stretcher bar. Usually, the canvas is cut to the desired size and glued to a wooden board. It is then placed in a press to get the canvas to adhere to the board and remove any air bubbles. Once this process is completed you can then place a frame straight around the artwork. It is also recommended that no glass be placed over the canvas as the canvas can sweat underneath the glass and cause mould to grow. This framing technique is usually only recommended if stretching is not an option as the materials used are not acid free and discolouration to the canvas could result from the acid in these materials over a period of time.
So, if you are looking to frame a canvas, our recommendation would be to get it starched over a frame or stretcher bar unless there is a reason this cannot be done. If you are not sure if you would like to add a frame around it once it is stretched, we always recommend getting the stretching completed and then take it home and hang it in your desired spot. Have a look and see if it requires that added touch of elegance or drama to bring the artwork to life or if a less is more approach can be used.