How to Repair a Canvas Painting

Written by sue stepp
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How to Repair a Canvas Painting
Repair paintings on canvas. (woman painting on a canvas image by from

Repairing a damaged painting on canvas can be a trying experience. There are several repairs that you can do by yourself without having to consult an expert. You can bows in places on the canvas, repair small tears or holes and replacing broken stretcher strips without a lot of problems.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Washcloth
  • Hot water
  • Stretcher strips
  • Staple gun
  • Hammer
  • Canvas
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Repair any bows in the canvas. A canvas can get bows in the fabric when it has been stored. If anything leans up against the canvas, it can push an impression into the fabric. This is the easiest thing to repair on a canvas. Simply wet a washcloth with hot water and hold it to the bowed place in the canvas. Hold the cloth on the bowed spot, and let it overlap onto the undamaged fabric. Remove the washcloth after a minute or two, and allow to dry. The fabric should begin to shrink back into place. If it does not shrink all the way back, repeat the procedure. You may have to repeat the process five or six times to shrink the fabric back into place. If the damaged area is too large for a washcloth, use a towel or dish cloth.

  2. 2

    Repair any small holes or tears. Repairing small holes and tears can be a more complicated process. Carefully flatten out the torn area, glue a piece of canvas behind the tear or hole and allow it to dry. Once the glue has dried, you will need to touch up the paint on the front. Mix your colours on a paint tray or styrofoam plate, tap a little paint on a small scrap of canvas and allow it to dry. Sometimes the colours get lighter or darker as they dry. Once your sample has dried, hold it up to the damaged spot to make sure it matches before you paint it on the damaged spot.

  3. 3

    Replace the stretcher strips. If your stretcher strips have been damaged, you will need to remove them, and replace them with new stretcher strips. Remove the staples from the side of the canvas. The easiest method for removing the staples is to push the tip of the screwdriver under the staple, push the tip upward away from the canvas to pull out the staple. Once all of the staples have been removed, lift the canvas off of the stretcher strips. The stretcher strips have pre-cut corners with wedges that will only fit together one way, so if they slip together, they are in the right position. Put the corners of the stretcher strips together to create the square or rectangle. Staple the canvas onto the stretcher strips. Staple the centre staples on all four sides of the canvas first, and work your way outwards to the edges of the canvas. Fold the excess fabric at the corners so that the excess fabric lies flat under itself. Staple the flaps into place and you are done.

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