Simple Steps to Stretch Unprimed Canvas

Whether you are making a small painting or a large stage flat, stretching your canvas properly is key to a successful result. Ultimately once you master the technique, your stretched canvas will fit like the top of a drum.

Step 1

To get started you need stretcher bars. Stretcher bars can be bought pre cut or if you are handy with a saw, they can be made.  Store bought stretcher bars will always have mitered corners. When making your own, if you can also miter the corners – all the better. On your first few attempts try simple squares or rectangles and nothing too large.

Step 2

A good quality cotton canvas duck is extremely important. We recommend  #12 canvas duck which is about 11.5 oz per square yard.  Cut the canvas duck several inches larger than the frame on all sides.

Step 3

Place the canvas on a flat surface and lay the frame on top of the canvas.

Step 4

Go to the center of the longest side and using a staple gun, put your first staple in place.  Go to the opposite side and place your second staple. Follow the same procedure on the 2 remaining sides and continue to work your way around all sides. No wrinkles or ripples is key again referring back to a drum top affect.

Step 5

You have now reached the corners.  Fold your canvas with the same 45 degree angle you would wrap a gift and staple in place.


Your first few attempts at stretching a canvas will mostly likely be a struggle until you find your groove. That’s when you have your “ah ha” moment and the rest is easy sailing… or should we say easy stretching!!


Chicago Canvas and Supply stocks a wide selection of Canvases: Natural Canvas, Extra-Wide, Color Canvas, Ticking, Primed Canvas, and Economy Canvas.  Need some advice on how to tackle that next canvas project? We are here to help.

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