Ordering Custom size Canvas stretching bars (canvas stretcher)

Canvas bars, DIY Canvas framing -

Ordering Custom size Canvas stretching bars (canvas stretcher)

This article provides guidance on various aspects of preparing your artwork, including: techniques for measuring your artwork accurately, determining the necessary margins/borders, selecting appropriate wrapping styles, identifying common mistakes to avoid, and tips on where and how to order the proper canvas stretcher set for your rolled canvas.

Making the mistake of ordering an incorrectly sized frame for your canvas can lead to disappointment and unnecessary expenses. To ensure a positive experience, it's crucial to steer clear of these common errors.


The face area and side-to-side size of the canvas parts

About Canvas and Wrapping styles

Canvases can be different in sizes, thickness, shapes, conditions, and more. But all of them have a Face area. The Face area is basically the area that you want to display on a wall. At the same time, it is the actual frame size. Canvas is always bigger than a frame, an edge-to-edge size contains the Face area and margins or borders around the Face area. How much big should the canvas be than a stretcher frame? That depends on the frame thickness, wrapping style you want to wrap, and the canvas itself.

There are two base ways how you can wrap canvas. “Gallery” wrapping is where the canvas is secured on the backside of a stretching frame. “Standard” wrapping is where a canvas is secured directly on the edges of the stretching bars. You can do different wrapping styles depending on how big the margins are on each side. Sometimes, you need to combine both types depending on the situation.

Gallery wrapping is the best way how to wrap any canvas. You can display a canvas without a frame, and the edges always will be free of cuts and staples, or you can use a floating frame to hide all mess on the edges. But make the Gallery wrapping not always possible. A canvas print can be printed with a small margin or without margins, or part of the margin could be cut off when somebody didn’t want to spend time properly unframing a painting. You can cut the Face area to make the Gallery wrapping, but very often, it leads to cropping the painting composition. For abstract painting, it could work, but not always, and sometimes it breaks the design or the idea. So it is a good idea to avoid cropping original art.

Canvas wrapping styles (Gallery wrapping, Standard wrapping, and  combined))

Getting measurement of your artwork

Depending on the size of the Face area of your art and the size of margins/borders, you can calculate the right size of a stretching frame. But there is very important correctly take measurements. If the canvas was printed, the geometry of the print would be suitable, so the print is square, but painting on canvas very often is out of the right proportions and sizes. When you got a painting in a mailing tube, probably your artwork never was stretched on stretching bars. Usually, artists attach a canvas to a board, and the margins can often be different or smaller than needed; geometry can also be out.

Rule #1: Double-check high and length by getting measurements from both sides of the face area on the painting. Even the canvas previously was stretched on stretching bars. For example, check high on the left side (from the left-top to the left-bottom corners) and the right size (from the right-top to the right-bottom corners), and the same for the second dimension. If there is a difference, use the smaller size.

Rule #2: order stretching bars only when you have a canvas on your hands.
Sometimes the artist can round the size of the canvas, and 35.75” becomes 36.” And if you order a 36” long bar instead of a 35.75”, you will get a white line on the sides. That is why when you come to framer service double-checks all sizes, even if the size is printed on a canvas.

Instruction on measuring canvas size for ordering a canvas stretching bars

Margin is matter

The margin should be big enough to cover the frame thickness. If the margin can overlap the frame thickness and you have an additional one or more inches for stretching, you can make Gallery wrapping. Gallery wrapping is the best way to go.

So, there are three possible situations:

#1 Your canvas have enough margin

The thickness of a stretching bar plus one+ canvas on each size. Order a stretching frame the same size as the face area of your canvas.

An example for a 1” thick stretcher. The face area of a painting is 24”x36”, on each side 1.5-2” black border and an additional 1-2” of a blank canvas. So, so the total edge-to-edge size is 29+” by 41+”. The needed frame size is 24”x36”x1”, and make Gallery wrapping.

#2 The margin is too small

Usually canvas print. Here can be a couple of scenarios.
An example for a 1” thick stretcher. The face area of a canvas print is 24”x36”, on each side one inch of a blank canvas. So the total edge-to-edge size is 26” by 38”.

  • Plan A: Get the 24”x36”x1” frame and make Standard wrapping. So, the canvas would be secured directly on the frame edges. Paint edges or get a picture frame for the artwork to hide its edges.

  • Plan B: Get the 22”x34”x1” frame and make the Gallery wrapping. So, the edges will be clean and free of staples, but the main image will be cropped; sometimes, it is a problem.

    #3 no margin (borderless print/painting)

    An example for a 1” thick stretcher. The face area of a borderless canvas print is 24”x36”, so the total edge-to-edge size is 24” by 36”.

    • Plan A: Get the 22”x34”x1” frame and make Standard wrapping. So, the canvas will be secured directly on the frame edges and slightly cropped.

    • Plan B: Get the 20”x32”x1” frame and make the Gallery wrapping. So, the edges will be clean and free of staples, but the image will be significantly cropped; sometimes, it is a problem.


    • Measure the face area of your canvas and get it right.
    • Check margin/borders.
    • Get stretching thickness (standard thicknesses are 0.75", 1", 1.25", 1.5", and 2").
    • Make a simple calculation based on the face area size, the margin/border size, the thickness of stretching bars, and the wrapping style (Gallery/Standard/combined if everything is wrong).

    If 1” or heavy-duty 1,5” thick stretching bars fit your needs, you can order them as a set. The set means a package that includes all you need to assemble the stretcher (braces if needed, corner keys, and hangers). You order the size. I’ll prepare the rest.

    For regular use as oil/acrylic painting, canvas print, or another light type of canvases with bars less than 70” long, you can use a 1” thick Classic American Canvas stretching bar set. Get a quote on my Etsy shop*.

    For a large application with bars longer than 70” (for example, 9’x12’) with heavily textured painting, use 1,5” thick Heavy-duty Classic American Stretching bars. You can also find them in my Etsy shop.

    To get the quote on Etsy, you need to select the perimeter length of the wanted canvas stretcher from the drop-down menu.

    For example, after all measurements and calculations, you know that you need the 27” by 42” stretching frame (the perimeter length is 42+27+42+27=138”), go to my Etsy listings, select the correct perimeter length option (“130-139 inches” - for the 27"x42" frame) and add 27“x42” to a personalization field.
    Note: you can order in inches or centimeters, and fractions of an inch work too ( for example, 34.5”, 34 1/2”, 52cm.

    * - Etsy service is trusted, friendly, insured, and safe place to make online transactions.

    I hope this guide is helpful and you made some notes. If you still have questions about your unique situation, you can contact me directly via my Etsy shop or ask in the comments section.

    Framing should be fun and satisfying, which is what I wish you.

    - Viktor Sh.

    1 comment

    • Kathleen

      Hi Victor it’s me again… I measured again- my main image is 50+73.75+50+73.75. (247.50)
      I think that gives me enough canvas to stretch around the stretcher bar…(my canvas size is 55.5×78.75… I hope this is what you need to finish… You said you would ship- I could come and pick it up if I knew where you were… I’m in Auburn

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