We’ve worked with thousands of artists and fielded a lot of really great questions about canvas stretching and stretcher bars since opening the doors at Upper Canada Stretchers in 2001. In this resource, you’ll find answers to our most frequently asked questions, with links to additional reading, videos and more.
Canvas Support FAQs
Canvas stretcher bars come together to provide the support over which your canvas prints or paintings are stretched. For best results, look for fully keyable canvas stretcher bars made of straight-grained clear white pine (kiln dried to 8% humidity) and edge-glued and finger jointed to counteract any tendency to warp, with precision tongue & groove joints ensure a perfect friction fit and rigid, square corners.
Your canvas stretcher frame provides the tension and support that lengthens the life of your work on canvas. It is comprised of your canvas stretcher bars and stretcher keys, and may also include mortised and tenoned cross braces for additional support.
Canvas stretcher bars work by creating the tension necessary to support your canvas over its lifetime. Not all canvas stretchers are created the same, though; you’ll need a professional grade stretcher with these 7 key design features to stand the test of time.
Stretching your canvas taut over your stretcher frame provides a smooth, tight surface for painting or displaying your prints. Once you’ve stretched your canvas, it’s important to adjust the tension on a regular basis (annually) by keying your stretcher to ensure that it stays taut over time.
Gallery wrapped canvas is an attractive, clean method of displaying your paintings, photo prints and other prints. Our pre-wrapped gallery wrapped canvas is a premium professional-grade product made with 1-1/2″ (38mm)-thick gallery stretcher bars, back-stapled #12 cotton duck canvas, and 1/2″ x 3″ bracing where necessary.
There is no difference between fine art canvas vs gallery wrap canvas; in fact, you might use a gallery wrap canvas for your fine art projects! The difference is in the quality of the materials used to construct your canvas stretcher frame and the grade of linen you choose.
Absolutely. Floater frames are available for many different canvas thicknesses. If you don’t frame your canvas, the edges of your gallery wrapped canvas should be painted so your piece looks finished when viewed from any angle.
We’ve designed and manufactured custom large and heavy duty canvas stretchers over 30’ wide! When it comes to the largest canvas size available, you’re really only limited to your imagination. Get a free quote for your oversized canvas here.
Definitely! Many of the artists we work with prefer to prepare their own canvases, as it gives them complete control over their piece from start to finish. You’ll find linen and cotton canvas, a variety of in-stock stretcher bars, canvas stretching tools and more here (shipping daily across the US and Canada).
You bet. This ‘How to Stretch a Canvas’ tutorial provides step-by-step instruction on how to stretch canvas for painting and includes a helpful video to demonstrate exactly how it’s done. You can use this canvas stretching technique for your prints on canvas, as well. It’s the only canvas stretcher how-to you need!
Keyable canvas stretchers allow you to adjust the tension of your canvas to keep it strong, taut and protected over time. You can learn how to use canvas stretcher keys and assemble a keyable stretcher frame here.
If you’re just starting to stretch your own canvas, you’ll want to learn how to use canvas stretcher pliers to pull your canvas tight for stapling it to the frame. You’ll find step-by-step instruction and a demonstration video in our DIY Canvas Stretching in 5 Simple Steps resource.
You’ll learn how to insert canvas stretcher keys in Step #10 of our How to Stretch a Canvas tutorial, which includes step-by-step instruction and a demonstration video to get you started.
Building your own support is easier than you might think, provided that it’s engineered and manufactured to our exacting standards! Your canvas stretcher kit comes with everything you need, and you can work through this simple How to Assemble a Stretcher Frame tutorial to build your own canvas stretcher.
Shipping is an important consideration in designing and manufacturing a large canvas. Custom engineering enables us to create and ship large canvas in compact, well-protected packaging, built for easy reassembly at your studio or installation location. When you provide the requested information in your online Quote Form, our canvas stretcher experts get back to you with everything you need to know about shipping your large canvas.
Your paintings, sculptures, antiques and family heirlooms need protection and support to withstand the test of time. Large wooden crates designed and built to store your large canvas paintings offer the greatest protection, and you can learn more about them here.
If you’d like to try stretching your canvas by hand, without the pliers, you can certainly do so. Avoid making tugging or jerking movements, and be sure to apply the same tension as you work your way around the stretcher frame. See the blog post DIY Canvas Stretching in 5 Simple Steps [Video] for more.
The most important element in canvas stretching is that you keep consistent tension on the canvas as you work your way around the stretcher frame starting in the center and working out towards the corners. Stapling should proceed in about 12” increments working on opposing sides of the frame to maintain an even stretch across the canvas.
Whatever the shape of your canvas, it’s important that your stretcher frame is constructed of quality material, and that it’s keyable so you can adjust the tension of your canvas over time. Some shapes make a keyable frame impossible, in which case the engineering and construction of the strainer is even more important. You can get canvas in the shape of an oval, circle, triangle, heart, irregular shape or even multi-layered with cut-outs. Explore the possibilities for your shaped canvas support here.
Gallery wrap canvas paintings and print look stunning on their own, as the image literally wraps around the sides. Still, you might decide that you’d prefer to have a frame. The most popular type of frame for gallery-wrapped paintings and prints is a floating frame. You can also find great DIY framing options in this blog post.
Round, oval and arched canvas stretcher frames are made using our CNC technology, which allows us to produce any shape you can imagine. We’ve constructed round frames over 19 feet in diameter. You can learn more and see examples here.
The larger your artwork, the more important it is that your stretcher bars can stand up to the weight of your canvas. Large canvas stretcher bars are prone to twisting and sagging, making keyable design and heavy duty engineering critical. We can help determine the stretcher bar materials and design elements needed to produce your large canvas, as well as any bracing that may be required. Learn more here.
You’ll find large and heavy duty stretcher bars ready to assemble here. Our large stretcher frames are constructed of laminated & finger jointed clear white pine, with double and triple tongue and groove friction joints for stronger corners. Heavy-duty cross braces provide maximum support and clearance, while fully keyed bars and braces make for fast and precise tensioning of canvas. Flush-bolted sectional designs offer ease of shipping and assembly, and we can design folding stretcher frames for easy shipping and transportation.
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Request a quote for your oversized canvas and we’ll get right back to you.
Given the support they provide, our stretcher bars are lightweight by nature. You can browse stretcher bar profiles and learn how to choose the right fit for your project here. There are lightweight canvas stretchers for your largest works, too; learn about our custom hybrid wood-aluminum stretcher bars here.
Canvas stretcher boards might be constructed of Baltic birch, MDF, plywood or high density foam, depending on your needs. Beware using canvas stretcher boards for works over 48” wide, as the panels tend to warp at larger sizes. Learn more about single and double-faced or shaped art panels.
A keyable canvas stretcher allows you to adjust the tension of your canvas, keeping it strong and taut over time. The keys are placed in the corners of your frames. Read Keyable Canvas Stretchers: How It Works & Why It Matters to learn more.
There are a lot of factors that go into heavy duty stretcher design. Depending on the type of material used for the stretcher bars, the anticipated weight of your canvas, how the piece will be stored or displayed and more, we might recommend different brace types and designs. For best results, submit your dimensions and a UCSArt.com stretcher specialist will recommend a design for you.
Your canvas stretcher options are only as limited as your imagination! We’ve constructed stretcher frames more than 30 feet wide, as well as round, oval and arched, or even custom irregularly shaped designs using our CNC technology. Your next canvas could be a 12-foot teardrop, or a 36-inch triangle. It’s up to you.
Absolutely. Our 1 ½” gallery wrap stretcher bars are a popular and economical choice for canvas prints and paintings between 6″ and 60″. You can take advantage of savings on in-stock sizes or get an instant quote on bars under 60” here, and save 15% by purchasing your gallery wrap bars in bundles of 24. Or, send us your dimensions for a quote on larger gallery bars.
You bet! Start here to get instant quotes on stretcher bar profiles we keep in stock. If you’re looking for an unusual shape or oversized stretcher bar size, send us the information and we’ll get back to you ASAP with a quote.
Definitely! Blank stretched canvas all looks relatively the same on the shelf. However, the moment you start adding media, you’re adding weight to the frame. There are other factors at work, too; the level of moisture in the air, the system used to hang the piece, the use of braces. Within a short time, mass-produced economy stretchers will start to show wear via twisting or warped bars, splintering, canvas slack and more. Protect your largest works with professionally crafted, expertly engineered stretcher bars.
We’re shipping daily across North America, with no customs fees or hang-ups at the border. You can get instant quotes and order in-stock canvas stretchers online today, or submit your unique dimensions and requirements using this form for a detailed custom quote.
Absolutely. You’ll find cotton canvas, linen canvas, canvas stretching tools and a variety of stretcher bar profiles and sizes in the UCSArt Shop.
If it’s volume you need, check out our 50-yard cotton and linen canvas rolls. We supply professional artists, conservators and universities with professional-grade canvas and stretchers, with daily shipping across North America.
Please contact a UCSArt.com representative if you’d like to discuss ongoing, large volume wholesale opportunities.
Each item available on the UCSArt.com Shop has a detailed description that lists everything you will receive with your shipment. If you’re ordering a custom stretcher frame, your Quote will list each of the inclusions. In general, you will receive all stretcher bars, assembly instructions, and keys with your stretcher bar order. Of course, all of the resources on the UCSArt Blog and in our Learn resources are free for you to use anytime.