Framing with Stretcher Bars

Close-up of faces in completed framing with stretcher bars of diamond painting rendering of Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss"

We all love diamond painting, but what do we do with our finished work? One of the least expensive ways to make your completed canvas display ready is by framing it with stretcher bars. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the process and give you tips and tricks so you can avoid my mistakes.

As I showed you in a previous post, I spent June and July of 2023 working on Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” as rendered by Diamond Art Club for Summer with the Masters. Since I absolutely loved the finished product, I decided to try framing it with stretcher bars to hang in my hallway as part of a to-be-finished diamond art gallery wall.

Project Details

Difficulty: Easy, but did require some elbow grease
Time to Complete: 30 minutes, but my next attempt would go faster
Total Cost: ~$27 for stretcher bar kit with free shipping; staples and staple gun not included

What Are Stretcher Bars?

Stretcher bars are wooden frames used to stretch and support canvases, providing a stable foundation for paintings and other artworks. They consist of four bars that when assembled create a rectangular or square frame. The bars have notches and grooves that fit together, allowing for easy assembly and disassembly. Stretcher bars come in various sizes, making them versatile for different canvas dimensions. The finished look is similar to a frameless canvas painting.

To give the piece a finished look, I decided to buy stretcher bars that would allow the edges of the actual drill area to wrap around the sides. You could also opt to have the blank canvas areas wrap around the sides and have non-adhesive canvas around the edges, but you would probably want to paint or use decorative tape to cover any printed areas such as the color key.

Materials You’ll Need

Before you begin framing your diamond painting with stretcher bars, gather the following materials:

  1. Stretcher Bars: Choose stretcher bars that match the dimensions of your diamond painting. You can find them on Amazon in almost every dimension; I ordered these. (See Pro Tip #2)
  2. Diamond Painting: Ensure your diamond painting is complete and free from any dust or debris. I did not seal my painting and had no issues, but you might need to depending on the quality of your canvas adhesive.
  3. Staple Gun & Staples: The instructions that came with the spreader bars did not suggest this, but it made a big difference in my final product. Before stapling around the edges, the canvas was not completely taut.
  4. Scissors: You’ll need scissors to trim the corners and any excess canvas. I would recommend some sharp crafting scissors, because you may have to cut through a drill-covered corner or edge.
  5. Protective Backing: I didn’t add a protective backing, but you could cover the back panel with acid-free foam board or some other type of lightweight material to prevent dust and damage to the back of your canvas.

Preparing and Framing with Stretcher Bars

  1. Prepare Your Work Area: Find a clean, well-lit workspace where you can comfortably assemble your stretcher bars and frame your diamond painting. If your painting is large, I would recommend using a surface you can walk around on all sides.
  2. Position Your Diamond Painting: Carefully lay your diamond painting facedown on a flat surface. Place the stretcher bars exterior side down in a square with their corners aligned, ensuring that the design is centered and straight within the frame.
  3. Adhere the Canvas: Assuming your stretcher bars have adhesive along the sides, remove the backing paper and stick them into position on the back of your canvas.
  4. Trim the Corners: Using scissors, cut each corner of the canvas diagonally from the edge of one corner bar to the corner of the perpendicular bar. Then, cut each remaining canvas triangle between the bars into half, and adhere the smaller triangles to the ends of the adjacent stretcher bar. (See time lapse video and Pro Tip #3 below)
  5. Form the Frame Corners: Roll each set of perpendicular stretcher bars inward and join the mitered corners with the included pins. If you have corner blocks for added stability, you can slide them in now. (See Pro Tip #4)

Pro Tips

PRO TIP #1: Be sure to factor in the width of your stretcher bars as well as the dimensions of the finished frame. I did not properly account for that, and ended up with some of the non-adhesive canvas showing around the edges.

PRO TIP #2: Be sure to factor in the width of your stretcher bars as well as the dimensions of the finished frame. I did not properly account for that, and ended up with some of the non-adhesive canvas showing around the edges.

PRO TIP #3: If you decide to wrap the diamond covered edges of your canvas around the stretcher bars, you will need to remove any diamonds that will stick in between the mitered corners of your frame. If you don’t, the corners will not fit tightly together, and you won’t be able to get the corner pin in properly. You can see in the time lapse video that I ended up having to scrape off small areas of diamonds in the corners with my scissors.

PRO TIP #3.5: If you stretch the pasting area over the sides of your painting, have tweezers and extra drills ready to replace any that may pop off on the edges and corners.

PRO TIP #4: These look like oversized staples, and on my project, there were pre-drilled holes where they were meant to be inserted. After forming three corners, my project looked warped. Don’t panic! It flattened out once I got that fourth corner pinned in place and the corner blocks set.


  1. Staple the Edges: Starting from the center of one side, use the staple gun to attach the canvas to the stretcher bars. Work your way toward the corners, pulling the canvas taut as you staple. Repeat this process for all four sides, alternating between opposite sides to maintain even tension.
  2. Trim Excess Canvas: Once the canvas is securely attached, use scissors to trim any excess material. I didn’t worry too much about keeping it straight since it’s the back of the piece.
  3. Add Protective Backing and Hanging Hardware(Optional): If desired, attach a protective backing to the back of the canvas using adhesive or double-sided tape. This will help keep dust and debris away from your artwork. You can also add hanging hardware; my stretcher bar kit came with it, but I did not use it.
  4. Inspect and Display: Carefully inspect your framed diamond painting to ensure it’s securely stretched and free from wrinkles or creases. Once you’re satisfied, your masterpiece is ready for display!

Final Notes

Framing a diamond painting using stretcher bars was an inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing way to display a finished canvas. I definitely will use this method in the future with a more detailed approach to measuring, though I don’t think it would work as well on smaller or lower quality pieces. Dry mounting and framing definitely provides a much better final product, but at a fraction of the cost, this DIY method is a good option depending on where and how you want your piece presented.

Time lapse video of framing Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” with stretcher bars

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