Calculating the Float with a Float Frame

Using a float frame (also known as a floater frame) with a canvas can add some visual resting space between the canvas work of art and the frame, much like the use of a mat when framing works on paper.

In this article, we are going to discuss how to properly measure for the amount of “float,” or space, you would like between the art and frame.

First, measure the thickness of the canvas to determine which frame has a depth that will accommodate the thickness of the canvas. Next, determine if the canvas is square. To do this, measure the diagonals. If the diagonals are not the same, then the canvas isn’t square and will need to either be re-stretched or need the calculations of the float adjusted accordingly.

measure the diagonals
Example of a square canvas (left) and an un-square canvas (right).

In the case that the canvas is out of square, you will need to figure the adjustment needed. You could do this by lying the stretcher down on a piece of paper that is square. Align the bottom of the stretcher with the bottom of the paper. Next, slide the stretcher to the left (or right) until the corner just touches the edge of the paper. Go to the adjacent corner at the bottom and measure the distance from the corner to the paper edge. That is the measurement to add.

out of square canvas
Finally, measure the width and height of the canvas, including the areas where the canvas folds over. These areas, usually at the top and bottom of the canvas artwork, can sometimes add up to ¼˝ to the overall measurement. Measuring the stretcher bar before the canvas is attached will cause the finished canvas to not fit inside the float frame properly. If you’d prefer a relief around the canvas (also known as a float), be sure to measure your finished canvas plus add in the additional amount for the relief on all sides. Example: if the canvas measures 12 ¼˝ x 12˝ and you’d like a ¼˝ relief on each side, the frame size you would need to order is: 12 ¾˝ x 12 ½˝. You can easily add these dimensions into the framing engine at

To see step-by-step instructions on how to frame your canvas with a float frame, click here .

Consult our other canvas articles for more information:
Why Should I Frame My Canvas Painting?
Using Linen Liners for Art and Framing
How to Choose a Frame for a Stretched Canvas
Canvas Clips and Offset Clips
How to Frame a Canvas with a Canvas Floater
Do You Stretch Large Canvas?
What Frames Are Best With Linen Liners?

AubreyK | 6/25/2014 8:40:24 AM | 0 comments
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About this blog

Mike Cromly
So, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, with custom frame shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35+ years with the company. A natural teacher, he loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there. Working in the plant and improving our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man and Ohio State Buckeye fan. Mike's Twitter
For more tutorials and articles, take a look at our other blogs - A Good Frame of Mind or At Your Service

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