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An Explainer on Canvas Stretching and Canvas Framing

You’ve finally taken another step when it comes to art: you’ve purchased a rolled-up canvas. Now, you need to figure out the best way for it to get on your wall so you can display it. That could be a giclee (digital image printed on the canvas) or original art painted straight on the canvas itself. Instinctively, you’re probably immediately looking to get into picture framing in Sydney. Before anything else, what you actually need is to get it professionally stretched first.

What Is Canvas Stretching?

Very simply, canvas stretching refers to a canvas being attached to wooden bars. In that way, they can be hung or framed without an actual frame present. It also helps for the canvas art to be preserved properly. It should be noted that there are alternatives for stretching, such as wet or dry canvas mounting in Sydney. However, the best option is generally stretching. It’s the typical choice when it comes to displaying canvases.

Which Bar: Strainer or Stretcher?

Traditionally, canvases got stretched through the use of stretcher bars. Back in the day, stainless steel wasn’t created yet, so copper tacks were used as fasteners for them. There were typically two keys in each corner of stretcher bars back in the day. Needless to say, in order for the canvas to get tightened in the needed direction, the keys were used. In modern times, stretching is reserved for old canvas.

Today, strainer bars and staples are used for stretching canvas. Joined like a standard frame, strainer bars are mitred. When they’re built, adjustments can no longer be made to them. These bars do not have an entirely flat composition, given the outside typically having a raised, rounded lip. This helps to prevent the stretched canvas from the majority of the bar. Otherwise, in the areas where the bar and canvas touch, a line will show up.

There are a variety of widths and sizes that strainer bars come in. Professionals will be able to help in choosing what’s best based on the size of the canvas to be stretched. Larger canvases will sometimes require crossbars, which prevents warped strainer bars and keeps the canvas tight.

The Stretch

Strainer bars use two methods when fastening canvases. They’re stapled to either the rear or the side. When it’s the rear, the term used is Gallery Wrap. This is best for an unframed stretched canvas. When it’s on the side, it means you’re looking to get the canvas framed after it’s stretched.

It should be noted that pre-made strainer bars typically have 10 feet as their maximum length. This means that if the canvas is 10 feet or more, then a majority of frame shops out there won’t get to work with it. However, just because it’s not as common doesn’t mean it’s not available entirely should the need arise.


A rolled-up canvas can be displayed in a few ways, but first, it needs to get stretched out. That step comes even before any framing. Traditionally, stretcher bars were used, but today people prefer stretcher bars instead.

Are you looking to get canvas stretching in Sydney? Contact Picture Framing, a Newtown-based picture framer, today! We have framed the memories of many customers over the years.