Our Frame of Mind

A collection of tips, framing techniques and artist insights.
Matte Black canvas depth wooden picture frame

Your canvas: What’s the right frame for it?

Canvases come in all shapes and sizes. When it’s time to choose frames for canvas, it can be daunting.

We want to make it easy.

The right type of frame for a canvas painting, photo, or other style of artwork–whether you need a canvas float frame, canvas depth frame, or simply a traditional frame–will depend on several things: The composition and style of the art you’re framing; your personal tastes and preferences; and your budget.

Let’s narrow down the options and help you choose the best DIY picture frame.

Types of Canvases

  • A stretched canvas has fabric stretched around and stapled to stretcher, or strainer, bars. Stretched canvases are available in various thicknesses, from dramatic depth to a rather thin bar.
  • An unstretched canvas has no stretcher or strainer bars. It simply consists of the canvas by itself, with no physical support.
  • A panel is a lightweight alternative to a stretched canvas. Panels are sturdy without using any bars.

Step 1: Determine your frame depth (rabbet)

In the dimensions of a frame–H x W x R–“H” is the height, “W” is the width, and “R” is the rabbet, or depth, of the frame. The rabbet indicates how much material the frame can hold. If you want to frame a canvas that is ¾”, you’ll want a frame with a rabbet of ¾” or more.

Step 2: Consider your style

Do you want the edges of the canvas to show? Or would you rather the edges not be visible? Is your art deep enough for a float frame, or so thin that a float frame would look “forced?”

For deep, stretched canvases, we offer float frames. The name comes from the space, or “float,” between the art and the inside edge of the frame. In a float frame, the canvas appears to be floating, without making any visible contact with the frame. Float frames allow for 100% of the artwork to be visible to the viewer. They attach to the canvas in the back, rather than the front by the lip of the frame.

When framing a canvas panel, consider giving it greater presence and substance with a deep, traditional frame.

If your artwork is on an unstretched canvas and you want to keep it that way, feel free to frame it as you would a watercolor: with mat board, backing board, glazing, and any frame (except for a float frame).

There. Hopefully, you’re ready to pick from our wide variety of frames for canvas paintings. The thickness of your artwork and what visual effect you desire will certainly help guide your decision. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact our customer service team at 800-537-0944.

February 25, 2021
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