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What is a Canvas Print? All You Need to Know

Whether you want to display a family vacation or a timeline of school photos, canvas prints are an eye-catching way to show off your favorite photos. Not only do they liven up any space, they’re an artistic way to update a room.

For ideas on how to use custom canvas prints to build collages or display unique messages that represent your home, check out our gallery wall ideas.

What is a Canvas Print?

A canvas print, not to be confused with a canvas painting, is an image printed from an inkjet printer onto canvas. Once printed, the canvas gets stretched onto a frame. Some people opt for a frameless border while others prefer framed canvas prints. To create an unframed canvas print, many use the gallery-wrapping technique. During this process, the canvas is wrapped around the stretcher bars and secured to the frame.

There is common confusion between mounted prints, acrylic prints and canvas prints. A mounted print is a paper print attached to a backing board. The emphasis of this print is to preserve the photo and prepare it for framing or hanging on a wall.

An acrylic print takes an image printed on photographic paper. The image is then placed between sheets of acrylic, often referred to as plexiglass. When comparing the three types of prints, canvas prints evoke an artistic feel. This is because they’re similar in appearance to oil and acrylic paintings.

What is Canvas Made of?

Canvas is a strong and durable fabric created with hemp. In more modern times, cotton and linen have replaced hemp. Most of the canvas prints that you buy for your home use cotton or polyester. The main difference between the two is the exactness of the color.

Color seeps into cloth made with cotton fibers while it remains on the surface of synthetic polyester strands. Because of this, polyester prints are more vivid and cotton prints are longer-lasting.

So which is better? It depends on what you’re looking for. Many consider cotton prints higher-quality and closer to what you would find in a museum. But polyester is the more affordable option, and it also yields bold and colorful prints.

Canvas Prints vs Framed Prints

In modern decor, it’s common to mix canvas prints and framed prints. There’s a reason for that. Framed prints tie into the general decor of a room by connecting the color scheme with the frame. They also shift the mood of the photo or artwork with the type of frame chosen.

With a simple black border frame, the focus remains on the artwork or photo. But more stylized frames like contemporary or traditional, bring out the character of the photo. When choosing frames, the furniture and room decor are important to maintain cohesion.

In comparison, canvas prints provide a more versatile approach when decorating a wall. You can add them with much less thought since the frameless borders adapt to any style. The vibrant pops of color create new focal points that liven up the room you’re decorating.

Here are some important factors to consider when comparing the two:

Canvas Prints Framed Prints
  • Image printed is permanent
  • Canvas provides a different texture that adds color depth
  • Photos do not have a glare or reflection
  • Light in weight
  • Prints come in a glossy or matte finish
  • Can swap out many photos in a frame
  • Frames complement room decor
  • Photos can have a glare or reflection
  • Larger frames are heavy and can be difficult to transport
  • The bigger the image, the more expensive the frame

Printing on Paper vs Printing on Canvas

Photography has come a long way since developing film in a darkroom with photographic paper. Yet printing on paper is still the traditional method that many people trust. To get a better understanding of the differences between printing on paper and printing on canvas, let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages.

Printing on paper advantages – We’re most familiar with printing on paper so we know what to expect. The smooth surface depicts sharper details which is important when reproducing smaller prints.

Printing on paper disadvantages –  Paper prints can have a glare or reflection caused by sunlight. They’re not ideal when reproducing artwork since paper lacks the texture found in canvas. Finally, framing a paper print can become costly when considering large print sizes.

Printing on canvas advantages – We’re conditioned to seeing art completed on canvas. Because of this, printing on canvas is the preferred choice when going for a “painted” effect. Canvas prints enhance many decor styles with the contemporary gallery-wrapped edges. For large prints, canvas is the more affordable option that also outlasts paper because of the durable plain weaving.

Printing on canvas disadvantages – The texture of canvas is ideal for art, but can distract from photos. That’s why careful photo selection is important. It’s also good to use a system that alerts you of poor photo quality, which is a feature included when customizing one of our prints. Unlike paper prints that you can swap out of a frame, canvas prints are permanent.

What Size Canvas Prints Should I Get?

When it’s time for a wall decor update, canvas prints are a simple way to transform your walls. They add texture and a stylish visual aesthetic. Whether you select one or two large canvas prints, they’ll enrich the colors and furniture in any room.

To get a better understanding of standard print sizes, check out our canvas sizing guide. If the wall you’re decorating is complete and you’re looking to make an update, you’ll need to have a size in mind. But if you’re working with a blank slate, you’ll want to map out your vision for your wall. Our design a wall feature offers even more guidance to help you plan.