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How to choose the right bars for canvas stretching?

December 16, 2019

Canvas Stretching

Most people require canvas stretching services for artwork purchased online or on overseas holidays. It seems like a relatively simple thing to get done and most people either try to do it themselves or enlist the services of a local picture framer. However, canvas stretching can be a complicated art, especially when trying your hand at stretching yourself, but choosing the right picture framer to stretch your canvas can also be tricky. The reason being is that there are many stretcher bars available on the market, all with varying quality and prices and choosing the right one for your canvas is extremely important if you want the job done correctly. This article will go through the things to consider when getting your canvas stretched to ensure a perfect job that will last for generations to come.

The first point to consider when getting your canvas stretched is price. Stretching a canvas seems simple enough so most people base their decision on the lowest price, however more questions need to be asked to find out what type of materials will be used. Most people call around for quotes, some picture framers will try to win the customer by quoting a low price and therefore may use a cheaper or the cheapest stretcher bar available, but not necessarily the right one for the job. So, it’s always a good idea to do some more research and have a look at the stretcher bar they intend to use for the price quoted.

 So how do you know what is the right stretcher bar for your canvas? It can seem quite complicated for someone who has never had a canvas stretched before, given the varying amount of stretcher bars available on the market, but there are a few key things to look out for when obtaining quotes.

 Firstly, you will want to make sure that the picture framer does not intend to use a brace on the frame. A brace is a piece of wood that is put between the two longest pieces of stretcher bar to stop them bending or warping under the pressure and tension of the stretched canvas. This is a sure-fire sign that the stretcher bar being used is not strong enough for the size of your canvas and will most likely not stand the test of time. It will likely bow or warp in time. If the frame bows, buckles or warps, it will not sit flat against the wall and you will need to re-stretch the canvas on a new stretcher bar to resolve the issue. The correct stretcher bar should never require bracing as the bar is strong enough to support the tension of the canvas.


Secondly, ask your prospective picture framer if you can look at the stretcher bar they intend to use. Look at the quality of the wood. Is it solid, or would it snap if you tried with enough force to break it? Art gallery standard stretcher bars are made from solid pine and would not break or bow under pressure. If you have a relatively large canvas, let’s say anything over one meter by half a meter, you would need a large stretcher bar, around five to six centimetres in width which would be strong enough to support the canvas under a very tight tension without the need of a wooden brace. Anything smaller and you will find your canvas will warp and not sit flat against the wall after a period time, if not immediately.

 Thirdly, it’s always important to make sure you have enough “spare” canvas around the outside of your painting to wrap around the sides and back of the stretcher bar. Using a stretcher bar with a high profile or depth will mean you will need more “spare” canvas than using a stretcher bar with a smaller profile. A good guide is to make sure you have at least 5cm of “spare” canvas but if this isn’t an option you can also opt for a gallery wrap look where the painting wraps around the sides of the stretcher bar. With this option its always a good idea to choose a lower profile stretcher bar if possible so a minimal amount of the painting is on the sides.

 At Portfolio Picture Framers we have completed many stretched canvases over the years and all canvases stretched by Portfolio Picture Framers are stretched to art gallery standards using the best quality materials available. We will always use the correct stretcher bar and we will never use bracing on stretched canvas. We are big believers in doing the job correctly, professionally and to the best of our ability. We never complete a job that is not up to our standards simply to get the customer, so you can be assured that when you visit Portfolio Picture Framers for canvas stretching you will get a professional and art gallery standard product at very competitive pricing.

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