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How to Stretch a Large Canvas

how to stretch a large canvas

Canvas stretch is an important aspect of painting, so we need to figure out the process to ensure everything goes smoothly from there. So, how to stretch a large canvas?

It seems like the process is not as easy as it sounds. But, even stretching a vast canvas is doable at home, with the necessary tools and a clear instruction.

Please read below to see how you can do it yourself.

What Items do we Need for this Tutorial?

The first step of stretching a large canvas is finding the right equipment, which includes:

  • Stretcher bars (but if that’s not an option, then use clothespins or tape to stretch it out and keep it in place). Make sure it has the lowest moisture content
  • A low-temperature glue gun with high-temperature glue sticks
  • Crossbars for your canvas
  • Nails and staples
  • Screws to reinforce the crossbars

Once that has been done, some other steps need to be followed for this process to go smoothly.

How do you Stretch a Large Canvas?

what items do we need for this tutorial

Step 1: Clear your Space

The stretch of the large canvas should be done in a dry, dust-free area. You can clear out all the obstacles lying around on the floor to give the canvas frames a huge space.

Step 2: Prepare the Canvas and Draw Lines its Edges

Remember that you need to make sure the painting surface is flat. If your canvas has been rolled up for any period, it will have creases in one or both ends from being bent back and forth along its length. If this happens, don’t panic! Roll the end of the painting that doesn’t have a crease around an ironing board until it lays flat again.

The first step is to draw straight lines on all four sides of the top and bottom edges that you want to be glued together later. These are important to line up correctly once finished with this task.

Step 3: Secure all the Crossbars

As you arrange all the crossbars at the right place, secure them in place by reinforcing all the cross-sections. This step is to prevent the bars from popping out when we stretch the canvas.

Step 4: Stretch your Canvas

Now, stretch your large canvas over a frame or stretcher bars using tape as needed for support.

To make sure it doesn’t slip off during stretching, secure one end with nails or staples at each corner and then stretch until taut across the entire width before securing the other corners (make sure not to stretch too far).

Step 5: Glue the Canvas

Next, paint glue along both long vertical sides where those two will meet when stretched out flat onto an even surface.

Place the glued stretcher bars onto a flat surface (like a table) and position the large canvas over it, ensuring that everything lines up correctly.

Apply pressure evenly to the entire surface for about 30 seconds so that the glue can bond properly with both surfaces.

Step 6: Let it Dry

Let the adhesives dry completely before continuing to the next step.

If needed, add more staples or nails around the edges of your newly stretched large canvas- but be careful not to put them through to the other side!

Once that’s done, stand back and admire your work. You’ve now successfully stretched a large canvas.

How much Does it Cost to Stretch Canvas?

This depends upon your skills and availability and type and size of materials used while making paintings. All these factors lead to the final price range. For example, If you are working on large-scale projects which require stretching of canvases, then a professional painter will charge more than $100 per hour for this service.

But if you stretch a small size painting like 20 x 30 inches or so, then an hourly rate shouldn’t exceed $30-$50 depending upon location and quality of services offered by local artists.

Can you Stretch the Canvas after it’s been Painted?

Yes, the canvas can be stretched after it has been painted, but you need to take a few extra steps during the painting process. Here are some tips on how to stretch the canvas after its already been painted:

  • If possible do not stretch your large canvases while they’re still wet. Let them dry first, and then stretch later. This will help prevent the warping of stretched canvas that is too damp or moist
  • When stretching, check for any moisture in between the layers of paint. If there is any, allow the piece to completely air dry before applying even pressure or trying to stretch again
  • Apply multiple coats of gesso over previously painted surfaces as this helps avoid cracking when stretching by providing additional support under larger pieces
  • Spray with water occasionally throughout drying time so that the canvas doesn’t dry out and warp
  • Use a stretcher bar that is slightly larger than the painted surface to help avoid any buckling or tension on the paint film while stretching
  • Apply even pressure when stretching, using clamps if necessary, but avoid damaging the paint layer
  • After stretching, allow 24 hours for drying before hanging or framing


There are some ways to stretch a larger canvas, so you don’t have to sacrifice quality or spend more money on an even bigger piece of artwork. Stretching a large canvas can be difficult. There are many steps to follow, but if you’re careful and patient, it will pay off in the end.

We hope this article has helped guide your efforts. Feel free to reach out to us if you face any problems while stretching your own canvas.

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