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How to Frame a Canvas Panel?

how to frame a canvas panel

Most amateur and professional artists prefer using canvas panels compared to traditional stretched canvases. The main reason is that canvas panels are thinner and more economical. However, canvas panels do not have that many choices when it comes to sizes and thickness.

Because of their compact sizes, canvas panels are just the right size for small living spaces. However, you need to know how to frame a canvas panel because they look plain just by themselves. In this article, you can familiarize yourself with the different methods for framing canvas panels.

Step-by-Step Guide

What to Prepare:

  • A Plein Air Frame
  • Silicone adhesive
  • Your canvas panel painting

Detailed Steps:

Using a Plein Air Frame

By far, this is the easiest and quickest way to frame canvas panels. You do not even need to use special tools or any tools for that matter. However, these frames are not readily available in art stores. You can only buy them online for now.

Step 1 – Order the Right Size

Since you won’t find that many art supply stores that carry Plein air frames, ensure that you order the right size and shape.

On the other hand, if you got a frame that is a bit too big, you can still use this by centering the canvas panel inside it.

Step 2 – Mount the Panel

Decide whether you will be selling the painting or not. If you are thinking of selling the painting, use a silicone adhesive so that you can remove the panel later without damaging it.

On the other hand, if you will be keeping the painting, you can use superglue, epoxy, or even a hot glue gun to keep the panel in place. However, it is better and easier to use wood glue.

For this article, let’s say you will use silicone. Place a dab of silicone on all corners of the panel. If the panel is quite large, you can also place a bit of silicone on the sides.

Drop the panel into the frame carefully and press on the silicone to make it stick better. Let the silicone dry and cure for at least 3 hours. After that, expect the frame to be ready for mounting on the wall.

Using A Traditional Frame

Traditional picture frames have a recession in the back also called the rabbet. This depression in the frame is what keeps the picture in place. The frame has a lip that goes over the rabbet. It is what holds the picture in place.

What to Prepare:

  • Your canvas panel painting
  • One traditional picture frame
  • Points and a point driver

Detailed Steps:

Step 1 – Choose a Frame

The most important thing when choosing a frame for your canvas panel is to go for one that has a deep enough rabbet. The rabbet should be deep enough to fit the thickness of the canvas panel.

This is not too difficult, though, because canvas panels are not quite as thick as stretched canvas, often just ½” thick.

Step 2 – Mount the Canvas

In the old days, when you wanted to mount something as thick as a canvas panel into a frame, you would use finishing nails. This is not an acceptable practice now. It looks horrible, and the nails loosen over time. The best answer to how to frame a canvas panel is to use a point driver.

A point can hold the canvas panel more securely. It is also easier to remove if you change your mind later. You do not even need to buy an expensive powered point driver. A manual one will do.

Proceed to drive the points along the inside edges of the rabbet to secure the canvas panel in place. For small panels, one point per side is enough. However, for larger ones, you can use at least two points per side.

Using a Floater Frame

using a traditional frame

A floater frame is one that intentionally leaves a gap between the canvas panel and the frame. This gives the illusion that the canvas is floating inside the frame, hence the name. It gives the same kind of aesthetic as shadow boxes.

Mounting a canvas panel in a floater frame is a bit more complicated compared to the other methods. However, with a bit of patience, you will be able to do it.

What to Prepare:

  • The canvas panel
  • A floater frame
  • An electric drill with a small drill bit
  • Wood glue or any other strong adhesive
  • A screwdriver
  • Safety equipment

Detailed Steps:

Step 1 – Glue the Wooden Spacers on the Back of the Canvas Panel

There are typically wooden spacers included when you buy floater frames. Use the thick side of the spacer blocks if you are using a 1/4” thick panel, and the thinner side when the panel is 1/2”.

Glue one spacer in the center of every edge on the back of the canvas panel. Make sure that they are at the center because you will be covering this later.

Step 2 – Insert the Panel into the Floater Frame

Proceed to insert the panel inside the frame. To make sure that you secure the picture at the center of the frame, use cardboard bits from the packaging of the frame to shim the panel. The cardboard shims will also help keep the panel in place when you turn over the frame.

Step 3 – Turn the Frame Over and Install the Backplate

Carefully turn over the frame, taking care not to make the panel shift. Place the backplate of the frame on the backside of the frame. If you managed to place the wooden spacers correctly on the canvas, they would be directly under the pilot holes of the backplate.

Step 4 – Drill Pilot Holes Through the Spacers

Take a drill, and using a small drill bit, drill pilot holes through the spacer blocks. This is important because this prevents the screws from splitting the spacers.

After drilling the holes. Screw on the backplate in place and put wood screws into the wood spacers.

Step 5 – Remove the Shims and then Mount the Frame on the Wall

Once you finish screwing the backplate in place, you can remove the shims. The canvas panel should be firmly in place. You can now proceed to mount the frame on your wall.

Helpful Tips

  • Add more dimension to your floater frames by installing an LED strip along the inside edge of the frame – You can wire them to run on small batteries with the switch hidden at the side of the frame
  • Use a silicone adhesive if you plan on selling the paintings later – Silicone is easier to remove compared to wood glue, so there is a lesser chance of you damaging the canvas panel


When you know how to frame a canvas panel, you will be able to show off the true beauty of the paintings the way they should be. Yes, you may get much better results if you take your canvas panel paintings to a professional framer. However, just by following the directions above, you will be getting quite acceptable results.

With a bit of patience, some simple tools, and a willingness to learn, you can frame canvases like a pro.

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