Behind every great taut, flat canvas is a set of seriously tough stretcher bars—at least, that’s the hope. Flimsy bars and poor construction can doom an artwork the minute it’s mounted. If you stretch your own canvases, you can avoid that nightmare with our favorite stretcher bars, rounded up below, which all land somewhere on the Venn diagram of quality, ease of assembly, and affordability. Note that a center bar is recommended for canvases with any dimension exceeding 30 inches.
1. Wraptek Canvas Stretcher Bar Kit
This bundle nabs our top spot for several reasons. First, it comes in loads of sizes, with bars ranging from 8 to 60 inches. Second, you don’t have to worry about any additional odds and ends, since each kit comes with nails, corner braces, and corner clips, and for projects 18 inches square or larger, you get hanging hardware as well. All you’ll need is a hammer, screwdriver, and razor. For the whole enchilada, it’s a great deal.
2. P&L Art Canvas Frame Kit
If you want the near-customization of a Wraptek set without breaking the bank, here’s a runner-up that’s a little easier on your wallet. This kiln-dried stretcher bar kit is plenty sturdy and designed for one-person assembly (though some buyers suggest building with a buddy). Another huge perk: To assemble, you need nothing more than a pair of scissors.
3. Jack Richeson Heavy Duty Stretcher Bar
Those who prefer buying individual bars, a la carte, should try this deluxe option. Jack Richeson’s heavy-duty strips are made of firm Wisconsin pine and offer much more expansive sizing than the other bars on our list. (Twelve feet square, anyone?) Be advised: You’re paying for quality here, so expect to shell out more if you go with these beauties.
4. Fredrix Stretcher Strip
If you’re looking for an inexpensive customizable option that doesn’t sacrifice on quality, Fredrix has you covered. Its stretcher bars, available in a range of sizes, features the manufacturer’s tried and true tongue-and-groove design, providing unflinching support to your canvases. This listing is for a single strip 24 inches long. For more dimensions and budget packs, visit the Fredrix store on Amazon.
5. Frank A. Edmunds Mini Stretcher Bar Set, Assorted Sizes
Working on a mini opus? This pocket-size stretcher bar set, designed with needlepoint projects in mind, is a steal, with six pairs of bars measuring 6 to 16 inches long. A word to the wise: The stretcher bars are made of soft, pliable poplar wood, which makes for easy assembly but might not hold up to rough handling.