Don’t be intimated by framing art on canvas yourself. Here’s some tips on how to frame paintings on canvas based on the painting’s profile size.
Canvas with a Traditional Profile (thickness of 1 inch or less)
There are two main options for framing a canvas with a traditional profile: a standard frame or floating frame. Standard frames can be purchased prebuilt or if you are framing an odd size you can buy individual pieces and assemble the frame yourself. These options are available for both metal and wood frames. Many artists work with pre-stretched canvases, which means there is a good chance that if the work is a standard size a prebuilt frame can be used. Once you have your frame, pop the painting in from the back and secure with either the packaged hardware (metal frames typically will come with this), or for wood frames you can use offset clips (which are screwed in) or a point driver (which shoots metal points into a wood frame to tightly hold a work in place). The second framing option is to use floating frames, which is my personal preference. I find them to have a more modern look and you can still see a some of the painting’s edge while giving a canvas with a thin profile some bulk. Attach the painting from the back with hardware screwed through the floater frame and into the stretcher bars. Floating frames typically come in smaller, standard sizes, so they can’t be used for all works. But they can really set off a painting, especially small paintings that need a little more body.
Deep Canvas (thickness of 1 inch or more)
If the canvas has a “gallery” or “museum” profile (thick canvas bars that are usually 1.5 or 2.5 inches), it doesn’t necessarily require a frame. These paintings, especially abstract works, are deep enough to stand on their own without a frame. Ideally, the artist has painted the edges solid or allowed the painting to flow over the edge. However, if you are interested there are frames available from online sellers that accommodate deeper profiles.
Unstretched Canvas or Paintings on Paper
There are a couple of options for paintings on unstretched canvas. One is to stretch the work on stretcher bars. If you are going to stretch the painted canvas, you might want to ask the artist if they are able to stretch it, take it to a framer, or follow my tutorial here. Once it’s stretched you can frame it as described above. Another option is to mat and frame it like a work on paper (see my blog post on how to do this). You might also choose to mount the painting, in which case I would use PVA glue to adhere the canvas to an archival support such as mat board or a wood panel. If you are matting or mounting within a frame, leave at least several inches around the painting so it has a little breathing room.
Finish It Up
You can now add your hanging hardware (more details in my blog here). I typically use screw eyes and wire. Pro tip: If you want to finish your work like the professionals, glue a sheet of butcher paper to the back edges of the frame and use a razor blade to trim it to the exact size. Then add your hardware. Now your painting is ready to hang.