Framing a canvas


Grumbler in Training
Apr 27, 2006
Hi - first time framer here and I have to do an oil painting. I have NO idea what to do. I bought "canvas clips" - they didn't have a size option so I thought they were one size fits all. How do I use these? Are they for metal frames or wood frames? Still debating whether to frame it with metal or wood. The canvas is already stretched (don't painters normally paint on a stretched canvas?) and it's on bars that are 2 1/2 inches wide. Should I just put a foam core backing on it, seal it with points and backing paper and forget about these clips? Thank you!
Well bluehorse, welcome to the Grumble.

I have to say that you leave alot of questions unanswered in my head with your thread. You don't have any information in your profile as to how much experience you may have as a framer or who you work for. I am wondering if your employer doesn't do canvases or just didn't want to share the framing procedure with you. Most framers have some idea of how to frame a canvas or a print or photo when they reach the point where they can call themselves a "framer".

So I have no problem with helping a DIY'er do a single canvas if they are up front and honest with their approach and that is what I am feeling here. I don't think you realized that this is a professional framer's forum where we exchange information of all sorts pertaining to the custom picture framing trade and operating a small business in art and framing and such.

So let's start over and see if we can come to some conclusion about how to solve your problem. First of all, I manage a frameshop in an art gallery where all of our art sales are of original canvas art. So what I will tell you is based on my daily handling of canvases and framing them. We use canvas clips to temporarily install canvases in a frame to show to a customer or to display on our walls until somebody comes in to buy them. When we permanently mount the canvas we normally use canvas offsets which are screwed into the edge of the frame and are shaped sort of like a "Z" with 90&#186 angles. It all depends on how much canvas and stretcher bar extend out behind the rabbet of the frame as to which size of offset is used.

You can use canvas clips if you wish. The end with the teeth is inserted in between the canvas and the frame and the rest is clipped over the wooden bar that the canvas is stretched over.

I have to say that your suggestion about using foamcore, framer's points, and paper dust cover is intriguing to me. I have not ever heard of this being done and would not have thought of doing anything close to this with an original oil painting. I have to give you credit for not being afraid to ask.

Have fun.

From other threads here, I've been educated & changed my approach to stretched canvases. They now get a Tyvek backing & offset clips. I do like the finishd look of the conservation blue/gray paper over it all.


If the rabbet is deep enough, I will put a backing board on and use points then a dust cover. I usually use coroplast, but don't see any problem with foam.

Backing board and dust cover to protect it and something to hold in in the frame. What difference does it make if it's points or offset clips?

BTW, I use offsets if the canvas is deeper than the frame, or when a liner ensures that the head of the screw holding the offset clip will not stick out behind the frame.
Backing board and dust cover to protect it and something to hold in in the frame. What difference does it make if it's points or offset clips?
I took a class a couple/few years ago with Paul McFarland. He told us that if the canvas/backing combo was less than the depth of the frame you should use backwards offset clips.

I asked him why one could not just use points, since functionally they would be identical. His answer was the the offset clips look more "tricked out."

Even though the PPFA standards, at least when taking the MCPF exam, call for the offset clips I have never been able to get a better answer beyond the whole "tricked-out" thing.

And just one more time since it bears repeating: Use a solid backing and a dust cover. DO NOT cut ventilation holes. Paintings do not breathe.