Framing a Stretched Canvas


How do you measure your artwork for framing?

Paintings on canvas only need a frame, while paintings on paper need to be framed behind glass, and they usually look best if they’re also matted. 

Standard size frames are less expensive than custom made frames. If you decide to order  one, keep in mind that frames are sized according to the inside measurements, not the outside. You can see some sizes on this page. 

If you have a stretched canvas, you will have one more measurement to take. Your canvas has stretcher bars, and they have at least 1” of thickness. That thickness is called the "rabbet depth." (See illustration.) That is the measurement between the lip and the back of the frame, which is the space you'll need so that your canvas will fit snugly. Some companies (American Frame website, for instance) will list the rabbet depth under each frame. It will appear as R: 5/8″ (or whatever the precise dimension may be). 

You can hang a stretched canvas painting without a frame, since the stretcher bars themselves make a frame that will hang directly on a nail or two. It depends on the look you want.

When ordering online, some websites offer you an opportunity to try out your image on a variety of frames.


If you wish to mat your painting, be aware that this will hide some of the painting. But in case you do, try a matting material that’s textured or fabric covered. You might find some surprising results!

Other Framing Options:

Fillets. A “fillet” is a frame accessory that is placed inside the frame or inside the mat. It looks especially good with a textured mat or a fabric mat.

Floater frames

Standoff frames

Boxed frames

Double and tripple matted frames





Fillets and Textured Mats

A “fillet” is a frame accessory that is placed inside the frame or inside the mat. It looks especially good with a textured mat or a fabric mat.

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More information about other framing options coming soon.

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