How to Repair a Ripped Canvas Picture

Written by mark morris
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How to Repair a Ripped Canvas Picture
Torn canvas paintings must be handled with care while making repairs. (painting image by Dmitri MIkitenko from

The sound of canvas ripping is one of the most disheartening sounds that any art lover can hear, especially when it is accompanied by the realisation that a favourite piece of art has been damaged. Repairing canvas is a task that most handy art lovers can do on their own with heat sensitive adhesive tape and a little patience. If you are not a painter yourself, recruit one to help you with the final stage of the repair, the restoration of the actual image.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Thermoplastic film
  • Linen
  • Iron
  • Wood block
  • Gesso
  • Putty knife
  • Paint
  • Art brush

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  1. 1

    Lay the painting flat with the image completely supported on a smooth, flat surface. Plug in the iron and turn it to its highest setting, which is typically labelled "linen." Put on a pair of rubber surgical gloves before proceeding to keep skin oil from getting on the canvas.

  2. 2

    Cut a piece of thermoplastic film, or heat shrink, a little larger than the damaged area. Place this piece of plastic on your linen and cut a piece of linen just barely larger than the plastic tape.

  3. 3

    Remove the paper backing and position the thermoplastic tape over the rip in the canvas and smooth it out over the back of the rip. Place the cut piece of linen on top of the tape, centred to cover it completely.

  4. 4

    Place the larger piece of linen, folded in three thicknesses over the patch. Place the hot iron on top of that to heat the thermoplastic and adhere the linen patch to the back of the painting. Remove the linen cover and press the linen patch flat with a thin metal spatula, smoothing it as flat as possible.

  5. 5

    Turn the painting over while the tape is still warm and press a flat wood block against the back of the repair. Press the edges of the ripped section firmly onto the heat tape, closing the rip as much as possible. Allow the painting to cool.

  6. 6

    Use a flexible putty knife to apply a coat of acrylic gesso to the rip from the front of the painting and allow it to dry. Mix paint of the same type and colour as the damaged area and apply a small amount of colour to the rip to blend it in using an art brush.

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