How Is a Painting Re-Lined?

by Georgia Dennis
Paintings can be damaged by neglect, time, mold and water.

Paintings can be damaged by neglect, time, mold and water. Images

When a painting is relined, the back of the painting, which may be damaged or old, is replaced with a new backing of canvas. Many paintings need to be relined sometime in their lifetime. This process is not one for amateurs. The process should only be completed by experts because mistakes can devalue and even destroy the painting. Many painting restorers do not reline paintings at all. If they have to perform the procedure, restorers complete the process in a sterile environment.

Facing Tissue

Paintings are relined in a sterile vacuum. All the air is filtered out of the room and sterile air returned. This method allows the restorers to control the temperature of the air and prevents dust and debris from entering and possibly being trapped in the painting. A tissue layer is placed over the front of the painting to hold any damaged areas in place and to prevent the paint pigment from flaking loose.


The relining process of a painting occurs on a table that is designed to heat wax or glue to the desired temperature. This table is set up to hold the painting in place to ensure mistakes don't happen and to prevent the tiniest slip while relining. The painting is secured face down, with the face tissue in place.


A special wax or glue is administered to the back of a painting during the relining process after a new backing of canvas has been applied. This wax is designed to travel through the new layer of canvas and permeate the old layer and the paint pigment itself. This is to hold the painting and old backing in place before the new one is applied. The wax or glue temperature is strictly regulated, ensuring it does not get high enough to damage the painting.


The new backing of canvas is allowed to dry, while any imperfections or tears on the front of the painting are restored. Rebacking or relining a painting must be completed carefully to prevent further damage to an already damaged painting. After the new backing is dry, the tissue is removed and the painting can be rehung.

About the Author

Georgia Dennis has been writing since 1995, specializing in the areas of education, behavioral sciences, canine behaviors, human resources and language development. Her work has been published in literary journals, magazines and in print. She is also suspense novelist. Dennis is pursuing her Bachelor of General Studies, with an emphasis in writing and psychology, from Indiana University.

Photo Credits

  • Images