How to Flatten a Rolled Up Painting?

There are so many times that we buy artwork or posters that come rolled in a tube. To a person who hasn’t dealt with rolled up artwork before, flattening it up can be very challenging. There are various simple techniques that can be tried at first.

1. Place the painting on a flat surface and place heavy books on it

2. You can also try rolling the poster in reverse. But this process should not be followed if it’s a canvas. Reverse rolling might damage the paint

One of the most well known professional techniques that help to flatten a rolled up canvas or a poster is through humidification. This refers to the process of introducing moisture carefully, followed by flattening the canvas. This technique is used not only in flattening canvas or posters but also to safely flatten old brittle documents. Extreme caution should be exercised in humidifying canvas.

The technique that I will describe here is known as a Humidification Sandwich and this help to both humidify and flatten a canvas at the same time.

You will need the following items: 2 Acid free blotting papers bigger than the size of the canvas; 2 flat boards made of wood, Plexiglas or glass; 6 chipboards and weights

Following steps outlined below for humidification:

Step 1: Clean the surface of the canvas of any dirt. Otherwise these will settle on the canvas during humidification. You can use a soft brush for this.

Step 2: Place the flat board of wood, glass or Plexiglas on a flat surface like the floor or table top. Place the 1st chipboard on the flat board.

Step 3: Next, take the 2nd chipboard and spray water on one surface. Place this chipboard on the stack with the humid side up. Place the dry 3rd chip board on this.

Step 4: Place an acid free blotting paper on this stack. Next place the canvas on this and another blotting paper on it.

Step 5: Now place the 4th dry chipboard on the stack. Take the 5th chipboard and spray water on one surface and place this on the stack with the humid side down. Take the last dry chipboard and place it on top.

Step 6: Lastly, place the last flat board on the stack to complete the sandwich. And place weights that are equally place on the flat board.

If the canvas is kept in the above sandwich for 48 hours, that should help it flatten out.

Please keep in mind that very old and brittle artwork is best taken to an expert for flattening and framing.