How To Keep Canvas From Sticking

If you are an artist, a painter, or simply enjoy do-it-yourself projects, working with canvas can be a satisfying endeavor. Nonetheless, a frequently faced problem is that the canvas tends to stick to the easel, the protective surface, or even to another canvas during the drying process. In order to assist you in overcoming this issue, I will delve into the details of how to prevent canvas from sticking.

Why Does Canvas Stick?

When canvas sticks, it is usually due to the presence of wet paint or a thick application of gesso or varnish. These substances become sticky when drying and can cause your canvas to adhere to whatever surface it’s in contact with, leading to damage when you try to remove it.

Preventing Your Canvas From Sticking

1. Apply an Appropriate Amount of Gesso

Modulating the amount of gesso you use can significantly affect whether your canvas sticks or not. While applying gesso, less is more. The goal is to cover the canvas without creating a thick layer that can become sticky.

2. Allow Proper Drying Time

Patience is key when working with any art medium, and canvas is no exception. If your canvas is sticking, it might be because the paint or gesso hasn’t had adequate time to dry. As a rule of thumb, lighter applications of paint or gesso take around 24 hours to dry, while heavier applications may need up to 48 hours.

3. Use a Non-Stick Surface

Consider placing your canvas on a non-stick surface while it dries. Materials such as wax paper, silicone mats or even plastic wrap can work wonders in preventing your canvas from sticking to your work surface.

How to Unstick Canvas

Even with these precautions, you still might end up with a stuck canvas. In such cases, don’t panic. Here is a simple method to unstick your canvas:

1. Gently slide a spatula or a thin piece of plastic underneath the canvas, being careful not to damage it.
2. Slowly work your way around the canvas, loosening it bit by bit.
3. Once the canvas is free, move it to a non-stick surface to continue drying.

Please note that this method should be done carefully to avoid damaging the paint or canvas.


Keeping a canvas from sticking is all about appropriate preparation and patience. By applying an appropriate amount of gesso, allowing proper drying time, and using a non-stick surface, you can significantly reduce the chances of your canvas sticking. And remember, even if your canvas does stick, there are ways to free it without causing damage.

So, keep creating, keep exploring, and let not the fear of a sticking canvas limit your creativity!