How to Make a Frame for a Canvas Painting

Professional framing services are often expensive, but framing a painting yourself is inexpensive and doesn't require much time. This method of framing a canvas creates simple and attractive frames. However, this method does require you to nail the frame into the canvas stretcher bars, and thus this method should only be used if you have confidence in your handiwork. If this method is done properly, the frame will be attached to the canvas without damaging the painting. Still, you may not feel this method is worth the risk if the painting has a high monetary or sentimental value, or if it is very old.

Things You'll Need

  • Painting to be framed
  • Lattice
  • Pencil
  • Circular saw
  • Sand paper
  • Stain
  • Paint brushes
  • Nails
  • Hammer


    • 1

      Using a measuring tape (or a ruler, if the dimensions of the painting are less than a foot), measure each side of the canvas.

    • 2
      In this image, you can see that the frame is deeper than the dimensions of the canvas.

      Purchase wood lattice from a lumberyard. Lattice comes in different widths for different purposes. If you are framing a large canvas, wider lattice will be more appropriate than thin lattice. Keep in mind that the frame may be significantly deeper than the painting. This gives the illusion that the painting is more substantial than it is in reality, and you may find it to be aesthetically pleasing.

    • 3
      Purchase lattice that is straight. High-quality lattice is available at most lumberyards.

      Choose lattice that is warp-free and has no knots. Higher-end lattice is better than cheap lattice. Each side of the frame will be one piece of lattice, laid flat against the side of the painting, so you will need at least enough lattice that it will cover the total perimeter of the canvas in four long, unbroken strips.

    • 4
      The top and bottom sides of the frame will extend over the left and right sides of the frame to form an L shape.

      Mark the lattice where you will cut it. Plan to make the lattice pieces on the left and right side of the canvas only as long as the edges of the canvas itself. The top and bottom pieces of lattice will be as long as the top and bottom of the canvas, plus the additional length of the lattice attached to the left and right sides of the canvas. This means that when measuring the lattice for the top and bottom of the painting, you must add on the depth of two pieces of lattice to compensate for the additional length.

    • 5

      With a circular saw, cut the lattice where you've marked it. Remember, err on the side of caution. It's better to make the lattice too long and cut back later than it is to make the lattice too short, and need to go buy more. Sand down the edges.

    • 6

      With a paintbrush, stain both sides and ends of the lattice. This can be done with actual wood stain, or even painted with a thin layer of acrylic. Allow the stain to dry. Apply a second or third coat as needed.

    • 7
      Side view of the painting in a frame. With this type of frame, the painting appears to be deeper than it really is.

      Beginning with the sides and then moving to the top and bottom of the painting, nail in the pieces of lattice to the appropriate sides of the canvas. The lattice should be flush against the edges of the canvas. The painting should be set slightly back from the edge of the frame so that the frame sticks out approximately 1/4 inch in front of the painting.

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