I like painting on canvas panels because they’re convenient and the wood board makes them resistant to damage. They’re great for painting outside because they’re thinner than regular canvases. The one downside is that you can’t hang them on a wall unless you frame them. Some artists aren’t sure about how to go about framing them.

How Do You Frame a Canvas Panel? There are 3 ways to frame a canvas panel. The first option is to use a frame that’s made for plein air paintings frame. The second option is to use traditional frame which requires a point driver. The points hold the panel securely against the frame. The third option is to use a floater frame which doesn’t require any special tools.

In this post, I frame three of my own paintings using each framing method. Which one you choose depends upon the style of framing that you prefer. You can use these framing methods for flat wood panels and canvas panels. Regardless of your skill level, you should be able to tackle one of these framing techniques.

The traditional framing method is the most popular. It’s also the only method that doesn’t require you to any adhesive on the back of the panel. At the end of the post, I explain how to attach the picture hanging wire to the frame. Caution: before you begin, make sure you use safety glasses when using a drill or other tools!

You can watch me demonstrate all of these framing techniques in my YouTube video above.

1 How to Frame a Canvas Panel in a Plein Air Frame

This is the easiest and fastest way to frame a canvas panel. It doesn’t require any special tools. The only downside is that you’ll have to order these frames online.

There are many “plein air frames,” but the one that I’m using here is different in that has a black piece of wood within the opening of the frame. This will allow you to use silicone adhesive to glue the painting to the wood.

Most plein air frames don’t have the wood panel in the opening, so you have to use points to secure the painting to the frame. I show you how to do this in the next section.

Put a small daub of the silicone in each corner and place it within the frame. The silicone that I use here says it’s dry within 3 hours. I’m not actually gluing this panel to the frame because it’s for sale.

Silicone isn’t as aggressive as wood glue, so you should be able to remove the painting in the future without damaging it. You may want to do some testing though, just to be sure. If this is a concern for you, then you may want to use a traditional frame because it’s much easier to remove the painting.

2 How to Frame a Canvas Panel With a Traditional Frame


Wood Frames & Point Drivers Check Price on Blick
Nielsen Bainbridge Wood Frames (available in natural wood color and Black) [button type=”flat” shape=”rounded” size=”mini” href=”https://shrsl.com/28ok7″ title=“wood frame”]Check Price[/button]
Fletcher Multimaster point driver (can use rigid or flexible points) [button type=”flat” shape=”rounded” size=”mini” href=”http://shrsl.com/28olb” title=“point driver”]Check Price[/button]
Fletcher Manual Point driver (more affordable but only uses rigid points) [button type=”flat” shape=”rounded” size=”mini” href=”http://shrsl.com/28olg” title=“wire cutters”]Check Price[/button]
The links to Blick Art Materials are affiliate links which means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a commission.

A traditional frame has a recessed areas called a “rabbet” that holds the painting in place. The edges of the rabbet overlap the front of the canvas to prevent the canvas from falling out of the front of the frame.

You can frame a canvas panel with this type of frame. However, you will need to purchase a point driver, as explained later. Framing your paintings is a lot easier once you have the proper tools, so the cost may be worth it if you plan on doing all of your own framing.

I have seen paintings that were held in a frame with finishing nails. Don’t do this! If someone were to buy your painting, it would look unprofessional. Also, the nails can loosen with time and the painting could fall out of the frame.

Most frames are available already assembled to the size of your canvas. Another option is to buy the sections and assemble them yourself. That’s beyond the scope of this article, so I will use a frame that’s already assembled in this demonstration.

I’m using a very simple solid maple frame with a square profile. You can use whatever style frame that you prefer. These Nielsen Bainbridge wood frames from Blick look good and they’re affordable.

There are many options to choose from. The important thing is to make sure the rabbet is deep enough to accommodate the thickness of your panel, and then have extra room to drive a point into. This shouldn’t be a problem since canvas panels are much thinner than regular canvases.

Fletcher MultiMaster Framer’s Point Driver

from: Blick Art Materials

I purchased a point driver years ago and I don’t regret it because it makes framing a lot easier.  It’s made to accept both rigid and flexible points. I prefer the flexible points because it allows me to quickly remove a painting from the frame.

Fletcher PushMate

from: Blick Art Materials

If the MultiMaster point driver is too expensive you can use the manual point driver shown above. It only works with rigid points and not the flexible points but that’s not a big deal. It’s very affordable and it’s great if you’re just getting started with framing your own paintings. You can always upgrade later if you find that you’re framing a lot of paintings and want to make things easier for yourself.

Secure the Panel to the Frame With a Point Driver

Simply place the painting into the frame and then drive the points into it. Press the front of the point driver up against the edge of the frame and squeeze the handle. It will drive a point into the frame and hold the painting in place.

The size of the frame will determine how many points you need to install. Wood panels are rigid, so a small 8″x10″ may only require 1 point per side. Larger frames will require more points to securely the panel in the frame.

How to Remove the Canvas Panel From the Frame

I prefer the flexible points because they make it very easy to remove the painting and install a new one. This is very handy for reusing frames for exhibitions. One of the benefits of using similar sizes for all of your paintings is that you can reuse the frames. I discuss this, and other tips in my post about the most common canvas sizes.

You may have to remove one of the screw eyes and the picture hanging wire on the back in order to remove the painting.

To remove the painting, simply bend the points back so that you can lift out the artwork. Place the new painting inside of the frame. Bend the points back down to secure the new painting in the frame.

3 How to Frame a Canvas Panel in a Floater Frame

What is a floater frame? A floater frame is a picture frame that leaves a gap between the frame and the canvas or wood panel. It makes it look like the artwork is floating in the frame. This is an advantage because the frame doesn’t overlap the edges of the artwork like a traditional frame. Floater frames have thin profiles that have a simple and modern style.

Supplies and Equipment

Tools / Supplies Check Price on Blick
Ampersand floater frame [button type=”flat” shape=”rounded” size=”mini” href=”http://shrsl.com/28ohf” title=“floater frame”]Check Price[/button]
Safety Glasses [button type=”flat” shape=”rounded” size=”mini” href=”http://shrsl.com/28oh9″ title=“safety glasses”]Check Price[/button]
Wood glue (or silicone, foam tape) [button type=”flat” shape=”rounded” size=”mini” href=”http://shrsl.com/28ogq” title=“wood glue”]Check Price[/button]
Wire cutters [button type=”flat” shape=”rounded” size=”mini” href=”http://shrsl.com/28oh1″ title=“wire cutters”]Check Price[/button]
The links to Blick Art Materials are affiliate links which means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a commission.

A simple way to frame a canvas panel is to use a floater frame. The Ampersand floater frame from Blick Art Materials is the one that I use. It includes everything that you need to frame a canvas panel and it’s more affordable than professional framing.

For flat panels, you want to choose the frame that’s has a depth of  7/8″. It includes the wood spacers that you need to frame a flat panel. They also make 1 1/2″ deep floater frames for thicker canvases.

I prefer the look of the solid maple floater frames because the neutral color works well with a variety of paintings. They’re also available in black or white.

When framing your painting, it’s best to work on a soft surface to protect the frame and the artwork from damage. You can cover your work surface with a cloth, towel, or a piece of thin carpet. The instructions for attaching your panel to a floater frame are below.

Glue the Spacers to the Back of the Panel

This is the part that you may have reservations about. You have to glue the wood spacers to the back of the canvas panel so that it will be flush with the edges of the frame. The instructions say you can use wood glue, or foam tape to attach the painting to the wood blocks. I’m using silicone adhesive because it’s easier to remove than wood glue.

I don’t know how well the silicone will hold a large, heavy canvas panel. The silicone may give out in time, and the painting may fall out of the frame. You may want to use the wood glue in those cases. This is a 5”x7” painting, so it doesn’t weigh much.

The wood blocks that come with the kit have one side that’s taller than the other. This is to accommodate panels of different thicknesses. Check to make sure that you’re using the correct side before you glue the blocks to the back of the painting.

If your painting is 1/8” thick then you want to use the thickest side of the wood block. Use the shorter side of the block for panels that are a 1/4” thick.

There are four spacers, one for each edge of the painting. You want to align them to the center of each edge. Apply the glue and position the wood block on the back of the painting. I placed them right along the edge, but it’s probably better to inset them a little so they’re less visible from the front.

Allow the adhesive to dry over night.

Attach the Panel to the Floater Frame

When the glue is dry, set the painting into the front of the frame. The blocks will make the front of the painting flush with the face of the frame.

Center the painting inside the frame so there’s equal spacing on all sides. I usually judge this by eye. Wedge some scrap pieces of cardboard along the edges of the frame to keep the painting centered. The instructions suggest using the cardboard leftover from the packaging, which is what I’m using.

The cardboard will keep the painting in place when you turn the painting over.

Carefully turn the frame over and make sure that the painting doesn’t shift.

Put your safety glasses on. Once you’re sure that the painting didn’t shift, use a drill bit to drill pilot holes into the wood blocks. There are four holes in the back of the frame so use those as a guide for drilling the pilot holes. You only need to drill as deep as the length of the screws.

Be careful when drilling the holes. Make sure that you don’t drill all the way through the spacers and through the painting! One trick that I use is to use a small piece of masking tape to mark the desired depth on the drill bit. Don’t drill past the tape and you should be okay.

The purpose of the pilot holes is to prevent the wood from splitting, and to make it easier to tighten the screws. I don’t recommend skipping this step because it would be a setback if the wood spacers split. You would have to make a new set of wood blocks or buy a new kit.

Attach the screws and then you’re ready to add the hanging hardware to the frame.

How to Attach the Hardware to the Picture Frame

The final step is to attach the wire to the frame so you can hang it on a wall. You need to attach the two screw eyes that came with the kit to the inside edges of the back of the frame.

Drill Pilot Holes for the Screw Eyes

The screw eyes attach to the inside of the frame. You need them to attach the picture hanging wire to the frame. Use a ruler to measure approximately 1/3 of the way down from the top of the frame. For example, the outside of this frame measure 9″ so I make a pencil mark at 3″ from the top of the frame.

Again, you want to drill a pilot hole to prevent the wood from splitting when you insert the screw eyes into the frame.

Attach the screw eyes to the frame. You can add a small amount of hand soap to the threads of the screw eyes to make them easier to turn. The ends of screw eyes can be difficult to twist with the tips of your fingers. One tip is to insert the end of a small screwdriver into the opening of the screw eye to make it easier to turn.

Attach the Wire to the Frame

I cut enough wire so that there’s 3 inches of extra wire per side. You’ll need that extra length of wire so that you can tie each end securely to the screw eyes.

You also don’t want the wire so tight that it’s difficult to hang on a wall. The wire should have a little bit of slack in it when you’re done.

There are different ways to attach the wire to the frame, but what follows is the method that I use most often. Insert the wire through the screw eye and then wrap the wire around itself at least three times. Then pass the end of the wire through the opening and then pull it through the opening. Use a pair of pliers to tighten the knot. You want to make sure the wire is secure before hanging the painting.

Trim the excess wire with wire cutters, some pliers have wire cutters built into them. The instructions say you can cut the wire with scissors. I find that cutting wire with scissors can damage or dull the blades.

Wrap the loose end around the wire so that it’s out of the way.

The wire that comes with this frame is easy to work with. The ends of some of the thicker picture hanging wire can be sharp. Be careful of these ends when working with the picture hanging wire.

Stick the Rubber Pads to the Back of the Frame

Some frames come with rubber pads that will protect the your walls. I use them because I’ve had black frames leave scuff marks on the wall. The rubber pads will prevent this from happening.

The pads allow the air to flow behind the painting. They also help the painting to stay in place so it remains level. The rubber has a way of sticking to the wall after it’s been hanging for some time. It doesn’t damage the paint, it’s just slightly tacky.

To install the pads, simply remove the paper backing and then press them onto the back of the picture frames. I like to use 1 per corner but if you only have two, place them on the bottom corners.

Related Questions

How do I frame a cardboard canvas panel? Some of the less expensive canvas boards are made from cardboard instead of wood. I never framed one of these boards, but I think that it would be best to use a traditional frame and hold the panel in place with points.

Framing a cardboard panel with a floater frame would require you to glue the wood blocks to the back of the board. If you ever had to remove the blocks, it would probably tear off some of the paper backing.

A traditional frame would hide the edges of the cardboard canvas panel, and you can easily remove it from the frame without damaging it. Once it’s in a frame, it would probably look like a traditional canvas.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *