How to Frame an oil painting on Canvas – All About Oil Painting’s Framing

A masterpiece is nothing without a good showcase frame. To showcase them properly, you have to make sure that the canvas fits properly in the painting frame. This blog aims to provide a complete step-by-step process on how to frame an oil painting on canvas. In addition, you’ll also get to know about most of the important questions that can come to your mind about the process of framing.

Whether you are an artist or an art collector, these precious tips are going to save you time and money. So let’s dive in and learn how to frame an oil painting on canvas!

Table of Contents

Framing is an important step in protecting the artwork. To frame an oil painting on canvas, there is a need to follow some steps:

  1. Choose a suitable frame
  2. Measure the painting
  3. Install the canvas in the frame
  4. Adjustments with clips
  5. Hanging

I also recommend matting if you want to add some borders that can suit the artwork. Covering an oil painting frame with glass is not recommended because doing so can cause moisturization. If you are confident enough about adding a layer of glass, matting can be helpful to provide distance from the surface of the painting.

 You may Want to Know: How much does it cost to frame an oil painting?

One – Choosing a suitable frame

The frame always acts as a visual barrier and you always get excited to see the oil painting closely. To choose a suitable frame, you may have to know the painting’s style first. If your painting is old-style, then gilded or golden frames can be good choices but if the painting contains modern color contrast, go for plane and box frames with thin borders.

Here is a table showing some good contrasts between frames and oil paintings:

Oil Painting TypeFrameOil Painting TypeFrame
ModernThin & SimpleOld StyleOrnate
ModernFloatingOld StyleAntique
ModernMetalOld StyleTraditional
ModernFramelessOld StyleConservation
ModernCustomOld StyleCustom
Table: Suitable frame for old and new oil paintings

Two – Measure the painting

Accurate measurement is needed to frame an oil painting on canvas correctly. This could be known by the dimension of the canvas. If the dimensions of the canvas are 11×8 inches, you have to get a frame that is no more than the same size. Some frames have the same size but they are smaller in depth, so they don’t cover the entire canvas. Make sure to take a measurement of length, width, and depth.

Here are some standard-sized canvases in inches.

Standard frame sizes - How to frame an oil painting on canvas
Frame size idea view for paintings

Three – Installing Canvas in the frame

Check the frame carefully and remove any backing. Just empty the frame so that it can accept the painting. Now, place the frame face down on a flat surface such as a table. Try to adjust the canvas in the center position. The steps to install the canvas in the frame include some steps: preparing the frame, installing frame brackets, and attaching the frame to the canvas.

Four – Adjusting with clips

Use offset clips to hold the painting in the frame. If the frame is not deep enough to accommodate the painting, adjusting clips cannot work. They will work only when you have to adjust the width to hold the canvas in the frame.

A stable gun can also help us to hold better but next time when you will try to separate the painting from the canvas, you have to do a lot of effort to remove a stable gun.

Five – Hanging

After completion of all the above steps, choose the right place that is well-ventilated and visible and also takes care of moisture and direct sunlight. If the such place is not present, use a display light to keep the painting under the proper light. Finally, use a wire to hang the painting on the wall and adjust it to the right angle.

Make sure to use the included hardware to secure the canvas from falling.

How do you attach a frame to an oil painting?

Attaching an oil painting with a frame can be a risky part where you should not want to damage both the frame and the oil painting. To make sure everything goes well, take a piece of carpet or bubble wrap and place it on the table or the flat surface where you are going to place the frame. If your painting is made on a panel, then take care of the thickness because panels can be thin or thick.

Note: This strategy can even be used for oil paintings on canvas or oil on canvas and also for attaching a frame to a painted canvas. 

Usually, the painting or the canvas is not exactly the same size as the frame or rabbit (rabbit: it is the internal part of the frame in which the canvas is placed). So, you have to figure out ways to fit this canvas into the rabbit. Thanks to the little clips that come with the frame or sometimes you may have to purchase them separately from the frame shop. These are offset clips and you may also purchase them online.

To use the offset clip, you have to drill some holes in the frame to place them using a drill and screw. They will work as a hinge and hold the canvas. If your frame is tall enough to fit in the clips then there is no need to worry because different-sized clips are available in the market. So, purchase according to the size of your canvas. Check the image to see all the sizes of offset clips.

All the sizes if offset clips for framing
Different sizes of offset clips for framing

How to frame an oil painting on unstretched canvas?

In the case of unstretched canvas, there is no such support that can hold the painting in the frame. It is like a poster, so we have to stretch it first before framing it. First, you have to take a precise measurement of the unstretched canvas or the painting surface. A wooden structure needs to be used for the support of the canvas. Leave some inches of space for the canvas to get a bit stretched. That’s why leave a minimum of half an inch of space depending on the thickness of the wooden structure.

For stretching, you can use stretcher bars or canvas pliers. We also use a simple wording of wooden structure for stretcher bars. Now, your canvas is being stretched onto the stretcher bars. That means you can now frame it. For framing, measure the length and width of the canvas and then get the appropriate size.

To get your desired size easily, try to create the painting on a standard-sized canvas. Now, you can fit the canvas inside the frame. Just put the frame on a table by placing bubble wrap before it. Adjust the canvas inside the frame to get the right fit. Use offset clips for adjustment and your frame is ready to place on the wall.


Can you mat an oil painting?

Yes, it is possible to mat an oil painting but it is very uncommon because oil paints are not compatible with many different types of mats and there is always a risk of damage that can cause over time.

What is the best way to frame an oil painting?

The best way to frame an oil painting is to choose a frame that provides a good contrast to the painting. Also, the framing procedure should be with acid-free materials and use a spacer to prevent the frame from touching the painting. You can use some other UV-filtering products to protect the painting from harmful UV rays.

How soon can you frame an oil painting

Framing an oil painting could be done after 6 months because oil paints take a long time to dry completely. If you have already varnished your painting and it is also dried, you can frame it now.
Note: Do not frame the oil painting before drying time.

Final Words

Framing is necessary but caring is also compulsory, especially for oil paintings. The framing process has great importance and artists should need to get knowledge about it before they start working on their paintings. A wrong framing can damage the painting, for example, framing before the drying time of oil paint can ruin the whole painting. Although, the framing procedure is somehow technical. First of all, measure the canvas and purchase an exact-sized frame. Fit the canvas inside the frame with the help of offset clips or corner keys.

I hope you have gathered enough knowledge about how to frame an oil painting on canvas. You can check some more information about oil painting from the menu.

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