The Great Debate: Rolled or Stretched Canvas - Which is Right for You?

When it comes to displaying canvas art, one of the biggest decisions you'll need to make is whether to go with a rolled or stretched canvas. Each option has its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks, and the right choice for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. In this article, we'll explore the differences between rolled and stretched canvas and help you determine which option is best for you.

What is a Rolled Canvas?

A rolled canvas is a canvas that is shipped to you in a rolled-up form, rather than stretched over a frame. Rolled canvases are typically more affordable than stretched canvases and are easier to store and transport. They are also great for artists who want to stretch the canvas themselves or have it stretched locally.

What is a Stretched Canvas?

A stretched canvas is a canvas that has been stretched over a frame and is ready to be displayed as is. Stretched canvases are more expensive than rolled canvases, but they are also more convenient, as they are ready to be hung on the wall as soon as you receive them.

How does Canvas Stretching Work?

Stretching a canvas involves pulling the canvas taut over a frame and securing it in place. This process is typically done by hand, using a variety of tools and techniques. The first step is to lay the canvas face down on a flat surface. The corners of the canvas are then folded over the frame and secured with staples or tacks. The canvas is then adjusted and tightened until it is taut and evenly stretched.

What do you need to stretch a canvas?

To stretch a canvas, you'll need a few basic tools and materials, including a canvas, a frame, staples or tacks, a staple gun or 

hammer and nails, and a canvas pliers (optional). You'll also need a flat, stable surface to work on, such as a table or workbench.

Should canvas paintings be framed?

Whether or not you should frame a canvas painting is largely a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer the clean, finished look of a framed canvas, while others prefer the more raw, unfinished look of an unframed canvas. There are pros and cons to both options.

On the one hand, framing a canvas can protect the edges of the painting from damage and dirt, and it can also add a level of sophistication and formality to the piece. On the other hand, framing a canvas can be expensive, and it can also cover up some of the painting, potentially altering the way it is viewed.

How do you display canvas paintings at home?

There are several ways to display canvas paintings at home, depending on the size, style, and subject matter of the piece. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Hang the canvas on a wall using nails or picture hangers.
  • Lean the canvas against a wall or a piece of furniture, such as a bookshelf or a console table.
  • Hang the canvas from the ceiling using wire or string.
  • Place the canvas on an easel or a stand.

How do you display an unframed canvas?

If you choose to display an unframed canvas, there are a few things you can do to protect the edges of the painting and give it a finished look. One option is to use a canvas floater frame, which is a frame that is specifically designed to hold an unframed canvas. Another option is to use a canvas wrap, which is a strip of fabric or paper that is attached to the edges of the canvas to cover up the staples or tacks.

When to Buy Rolled vs Stretched Canvas Art

So, when should you choose a rolled canvas, and when should you choose a stretched canvas? Here are a few things to consider:

  • If you're on a budget, rolled canvases are typically more affordable than stretched canvases.
  • If you plan to stretch the canvas yourself or have it stretched locally, a rolled canvas is a good option.
  • If convenience is a priority, a stretched canvas is a good choice, as it is ready to be hung on the wall as soon as you receive it.
  • If you're unsure of the size or orientation of the final piece, a rolled canvas allows you more flexibility to adjust the canvas to your desired size and shape.


Ultimately, the choice between a rolled and stretched canvas will depend on your specific needs and preferences. If you're an artist or a crafter, you may prefer the flexibility and cost savings of a rolled canvas. If you're a collector or simply want an easy, ready-to-hang piece of art, a stretched canvas may be the better option for you.

As you make your decision, be sure to consider the size and orientation of the final piece, your budget, and your level of comfort with stretching the canvas yourself. With these factors in mind, you should be able to find the perfect canvas for your needs.