How to Frame a Canvas on a Budget

It's easy to score great artwork at places like Target or Michael's

If you tuned into our Fall Home Tour last week, you may have noticed things have changed quite a bit in my Family Room. In honor of the dropping temperatures and seasonal decor rushing the shelves of every craft store, I was inspired to ditch these frames (for now) and replace them with art that would fit the rustic vibe a little more appropriately. As much as I love my nautical inspired frames… they just don’t do the trick in getting me excited for fall.
But let’s be REAL here. As much as I wanted a change, I did NOT want to spend a lot for replacements. Those original frames were big, so trying to find a BIG replacement for cheap was tough. Oh, and I had another small dilemma. The new look had to fit over the existing holes/anchors because there was quite an eye soar hiding behind the frames & they definitely weren’t going anywhere during the “off-season”. Talk about some awkward circumstances I was working with.

Easy Canvas Frame
How to Frame Canvas on a Budget

That’s when I stumbled upon these canvas prints at Target. (Fun Fact: this was the exact picture I sent to Matt; trying to get the stamp of approval before I made the plunge). I ended up buying the Tandem Bike Print, which cost me about $50. It was a little pricey for my budget, however, I was having a hard time finding something so I was a little more willing to splurge than usual.

The frame- before assembly

Tandem Bikes are near & dear to my heart (Check out our engagement pics!) so I knew this canvas was almost perfect for us and for our space. Plus, the print was dark and rustic-ish, so I figured it could work for fall… and maybe even winter if we’re lucky! However, there was one thing missing. I still wanted to add a frame to “dress up” the plain canvas look and that’s what I did — for under $6.

Supplies for Easy Canvas Frame

I headed to our local hardware store and bought what is called, “1×2 Primed FJ Board” (fj= finger joint board). I only had to buy one long strip and had it cut to size.

Note: the measurements must be EXACT for this to work flawlessly. Make sure you are very precise measuring before you head out shopping. Heck, maybe it would even be a good idea to bring the canvas with you and let the experts weigh in on the measurements. All together, my wood cost me $4.35 for the one board.

Step-by-Step Tutorial

Once I had the 4 pieces home, I lined up the pieces around the border to check the measurements. There’s probably some scientific, math teacher way to do this in order to avoid errors… I followed none of those practices. All I did was eye-ball that sucker and start drilling. The biggest piece of advice I would give you is to drill a pilot hole.

I drilled 3 pilot holes on each of the longer sides and 2 pilot holes on the shorter sides. I drilled through the FJ Board and through the canvas frame to create the pilot holes (using my all-time favorite drill). Both the FJ Board and canvas frame are super soft woods, so drilling the pilot holes was seriously a breeze.

Rookie Tip

The boards were in good shape when I bought them so I did NOT paint them before getting to work. If you are going to paint yours a different color or even a fresh coat of white, I would advise you to paint before you start the drilling part. Let them dry and then proceed with these steps.

So many screws!

Now, onto the screws. When you choose what screws to buy, just make sure the screws are long enough to go through both the FJ Board AND the canvas frame. Mine were 1 1/4 inches long.

All I did was poke the screws into the pre-existing pilot holes and drilled them in. The previously drilled pilot holes seriously made this step so much easier.

The top and bottom, securely added
Repeat the steps on the short sides

This is how the frame looked after the two long sides were complete.
After I repeated the drilling steps on the shorter sides, the frame was almost complete.

Detail- finished productTwo More Things…

1. The screws can still be seen on the outside of the white frame. Personally, I liked the “industrial” look, but some people may think that looks terrible. In that case, those screw heads need to be covered up.

2. The areas where the FJ board was cut were raw looking. Not white, but wood… not good for a white frame. Those needed to be painted.

Frame edge- touch up with paint
Here's the final piece- framed and hung
How to create an easy canvas frame on a budget
We hung it in the family room and couldn't be happier
The family room, complete with art

See what I mean? I cleaned the board with my Magic Eraser and used some leftover white paint I had hanging around to touch up the corners. At this point, you could also choose to cover the screw heads… I did not.
I hung up my easy canvas frame and marveled and what a difference this $6 frame made!! (I really wish I took some before pictures of the canvas hanging without the frame. Not that it looked terrible, it just looks more finished now).
I love that this affordable Tandem Bike Art is personal, affordable and could hang on the pre-existing anchor/screws. The print brings a whole new feel to this normally very nautical room. I love the change for a few months and can’t wait to ring in the fall with a new look without breaking the bank!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.