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How To Change The Finish And Frame A Canvas Print


Have you ever seen a really pretty piece of canvas art in one of your favorite home store that you love, except for the weird finish on it? Or you’re undecided on how you feel about the look of the unframed canvas?

I used to adamantly oppose mass produced art, but I’ve mellowed on this subject over the years because filling a home with original pieces of art or limited edition, signed prints is not exactly feasible for all of us, and finding unusual pieces that fit your budget and speak to your soul at antique and thrift stores can be quite daunting.

If we find something beautiful, feel a connection to it and it’s within our budget then who cares if it’s a reproduction from “Marshall’s Boutique” instead of an original piece. I’d like to think that a few “low” pieces will give me or my clients the budget to splurge now and again on a one-of-a-kind or more special pieces. But “low” doesn’t have to mean kitschy or tacky.

Lately I have seen so many pretty canvas-type pictures, but I just do not get the WEIRD, NOT-FOOLING ANYONE, CHEAP, AWFUL finishes.

Take this picture below:  there was something about it that I was really drawn to and I thought it would be perfect for clients who have a LOT of blank walls to fill. Some of the places that are special to them are by the ocean, the colors would work really well in their home, and it would inexpensively fill up a very large blank space.

…but OH – the finish on it vexed me so.

This stamping technique on a printed canvas – why why why why why? Does it fool anyone into thinking the picture was painted? This finish doesn’t enhance the picture at all – it just cheapens the overall affect.
I’ve always wanted to try using gel medium to give a paper print a painted affect (like this tutorial from Miss Kopy Kat), and with that in mind I decided to try to use this product to improve the canvas picture.
After applying several coats of matte gel medium, the stamped affect is still mildly visible but the end result is so much more subtle, the brushstrokes actually make sense, and the piece feels a bit more classy without the shiny leopard print. It looks about a million times better already!
I also made a simple frame for this picture to give it a bit more presence, but before I get to that I’ll tell you quickly how to re-texturize a canvas print.
To add texture to a canvas print you will need –
L// inexpensive artist’s paintbrushes  R//gel medium (I prefer matte)
(Both items are widely available at craft/art stores.
The gel medium is a bit pricey – around $12 – so look for a coupon before you go!)
L// squirt a generous amount of gel medium onto the canvas and cover the entire picture with brushstrokes that follow those of the painting. Allow to dry.
R// build up layers of gel medium in various areas of the picture, allowing the layers to dry in between applications.

Building up the layers gives the finished product a much more natural look, gives dimension in the right places and tones down the original finish. I left the picture on my coffee table one Sunday and every few hours I would stop by and add a bit more here and there as the applications dried.

To really finish off a canvas print and give it a more high end look, build a simple frame for it.

To frame a canvas print you will need –
Wood moulding
Painters tape
Spray paint
Wood glue
Band clamp (optional)
Wood joiners
Finish nails, hammer, nail set
Saw (power or hand held)

First, measure the width of the side of the stretched canvas and then find a moulding that is at least as wide or wider. (1/2″ x 1 1/2″ screen moulding worked for this piece.)

When you are choosing your moulding, make sure to check for warping. Study the pieces to make sure they are straight.

Next, cut two pieces to the exact length of the sides.
Before cutting the top and bottom pieces to size, fit them to the picture to get an exact fit
(any stretched canvas has has a little more material at the corners and therefore is not an exact 90 degree angle so I find this trick helps to make the cuts better):
L//  Place the left side moulding against the picture. Use painters tape to tightly join this piece with the top and bottom pieces at the corners.
R// Place the right side against the canvas and mark the top and bottom pieces so the cut will be exact.

If you don’t have a power saw this kind of moulding is a piece of cake to cut with a hand held saw and miter box.

With all your cuts made, take the moulding outside and spray paint to desired color. The inside edge of your frame will be visible so make sure to paint it. I wanted the front of my frame to be gold and the outer side and inside edge to be black for a little definition, so I first coated all pieces in black and added the gold later.

To join the frame around the picture, put a bit a wood glue on the ends of the side pieces and place them flush with the sides of the picture, then fit the top and bottom on.

To make the corners join really well, I used a band clamp (which you can find at a hardware store for around $10). The band clamp comes with corner braces that you place on each corner, then place the band around the frame and tighten with the clamp. Make sure the corner pieces are flush with each other and wipe away any glue that squeezes out.

While the glue on the frame is setting, add a few finish nails to the top and bottom corners and set them into the moulding with a nail set. The band clamp keeps everything together perfectly while you do this.

Once you have a nail in each corner you can remove the band clamp and add another nail on each side for stability.

Fill those nails in and touch up with paint.
Next, join together the frame and the stretched canvas.
These little buggers are SHARP, beware!!
Gently place the framed canvas face down on a carpet or towels.
Lay a wood joiner on both the frame and the wood of the stretched canvas and gently tap into both with your hammer. I placed one about an inch from each corner, and then also one in the middle of each side, top and bottom, using 12 total so the two pieces (frame and stretched canvas) were solidly attached to each other.
Be careful not to place the joiner too close to the edge of your frame because the prongs could break through the side of the frame (in which case, just pull it out with your hammer, and fill the hole on the side of the frame. No one will ever know!)
So here we have the re-texturized, framed canvas print….
….but I think one more final detail will really make this special.


My old standby, Rub & Buff.
 It makes everything magical!
Now I wish I was keeping this piece for myself!
It’s a bit of work but really not hard at all to make a store bought mass produced piece of art look a little more high end.


So there you have it friends……
how to re-texturize and frame an inexpensive canvas print and turn it into something special for your home. What do you think?

Are you coming to the Best of the Nest party tomorrow? I sure hope so!! We are welcoming another very fun Guest of the Nest so stop by with your favorite project from the month of March and join the party! I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to!


Chicken Puff Pastry
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Thursday 6th of August 2020

Beautiful! What is run and buff product!


Sunday 16th of August 2020

Rub & Buff is a waxy metallic product that you can use to change the finish on many things like light fixtures and picture frames. You can buy it at craft stores or on Amazon!

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Thursday 7th of May 2015

Totally stealing this! Absolutely brilliant. Saw that exact same sailboat at my homegoods and kept on I kinda want to go back and grab it! :)

Emily W

Wednesday 1st of April 2015

What a difference that makes! It really does look more expensive, especially with the custom frame.

Becky {This Is Happiness}

Tuesday 31st of March 2015

This turned out beautiful. I would have maybe thought of the frame, but would have not had a clue about how to fix the finish. So clever!

Janice McElhone

Monday 30th of March 2015

Looks great! Can you clarify how the wood joiners keep the frame on? Where exactly do you place them? Outer edge of canvas and inner edge of frame? Do you have a picture of this step?