How To Repair A Damaged Or Ripped Canvas Painting

wait for PVA glue to dry when repairing painting

Once you’ve got you patch applied and your piece of board laying flat on top of it, you need to place a weight of some description on top of that to keep everything is position and to make sure a good bond is formed between the patch and the original canvas. Once you’ve done that you need to let the PVA dry for at least 24 hours before doing anything else.

finished painting repair

Once the glue had dried and you’ve removed the piece of hardboard and the weight your repair should look something like this.

repaired oil painting

The new canvas patch should be glued to the original canvas right up to the edges. If it isn’t, and the edges of the patch can still be lifted up, you’ll need to work a little more PVA glue under the unglued edges with match stick (or something similar), replace the board and weight onto the back of the painting, and wait another 24 hours for that to dry.

front of repaired canvas painting

This is what the front of my painting looks like after the patch repair has been made to the rear.

successful painting repair job

If you look closely you can see my repair was very successful. The canvas is even and flat once again, and all the edges are lined up well. You can however see that there are some stray/loose fibres, that’s not a problem, we’ll sort that out next.

liquin oleopasto used to repair damaged canvas oil painting

To paint over the repaired area I mix a little Liquin Oleopasto medium into the paint that I use. Liquin is a medium that artists can add to oil paint and is mainly used to speed up drying times in every day oil paining, Oleopasto is just a much thicker form of this medium and helps to fill in any indentations in the repaired area as I repaint.

perfect repair of a damaged and torn canvas painting

One of the keys to repainting a canvas like this is to repaint more than just the repaired area. Like with all painting, looseness/tightness of brushwork should match that of the rest of the painting, in my case other parts of my painting are painted with quite thick loose paint, namely the foreground wall and rocks, so this new more thickly painted area doesn’t stand out. You can see I continued repainting across the horizon line so that it all matched the newly repaired area – you might say the repair is hidden in plain sight. I used a palette knife to mix the new paint/oleopasto mix, and put the paint on quite thickly and deliberately uneven.

repaired oil painting torn canvas

Here is the final result; a permanent repair and will last as long as the rest of the painting, and one that is unnoticeable unless one looks at the back of the painting to see the patch. Of course when selling a repaired painting like this it goes without saying you should tell the buyer.

See the framed repaired canvas painting here

Read this post if you want to get a dent out of a painting canvas.

If you have any questions just get in touch.


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30 thoughts on “How To Repair A Damaged Or Ripped Canvas Painting”

  1. Thanks for the lesson on repair. My canvas is ripped almost exactly like yours but I painted mine with acrylic paints. I assume a gel medium for acrylics would work to help fill out the break in the canvas when I go to repaint the area?

    1. Yes acrylic gel would work to fill the indention left after repairing the canvas. You may not need it however, acrylic dries fast and can be put on thick, which may be enough to fill the area. Just be sure to try and match the painting’s surrounding texture when you apply paint/gel to the damaged area ~ Chris

  2. Hi there! We have a canvas painting at my Grandmas house that was torn when it fell on a TV. It was painted during WW2 in Germany and brought back by my great Uncle. It isn’t a famous artist or anything but I have no clue how to fix it – or more importantly who to send it to. Do you have any suggestions? I can do the first bit of this but I am certainly no painter. 😂 thank you!

    1. Hi Ross, that looks like a print, as you say not an easy fix. One option might be to photograph the picture, repair the image in photoshop, and have a new print made ~ Chris

  3. Hi Chris,
    I have a 19th century landscape painting that has a big crack/hole where the canvas is peeling back about 1.5 inches square, so quite large. It is in a large panel of blue sky, so hard to camouflage. I don’t know if a patch would work well since the canvas is quite dry and might crack if I try to flatten it. Any ideas on how to repair it? Is there a way to relax a dry canvas? Is re-lining the only option? If so, I don’t think I can do that myself, or do you know a good website that explains re-lining for amateurs?

    1. Hi Deborah, As your painting is a good age I would suggest contacting a local museum or art gallery, who should be able to put you in touch with a professional art restorer. These organisation use these services regularly. I wouldn’t suggest trying to release the canvas yourself on such an old painting ~ Chris

  4. Hi Chris thank you for your reply. I am afraid I chose the PVA and it does look good, all I have to do now is to retouch the paintwork using your advice, but will probably be nowhere as good as yours. It is a small area only, so will take my time. Once again thank you.

  5. Hi Chris
    Thank you for the information. What are you thoughts on using beeswax instead of PVA, but then again would it be as stable as PVA? I have a small oil painting with a small tear, and I am quite nervous about repairing though I have done it before but a long time ago, I will just to take the bull by the horns. Thank you once again

    1. Hi Gaynor, I’m not sure beeswax will work, I’ve not tried it, but I doubt it has the adhesive strength to cope with the stretch of the canvas. Let me know how you get on if indeed you do use it though ~ Chris

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