home decor

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?

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

Metal vs Canvas

Metal prints and canvas prints yield very different results due to the material the photos are printed on. High-definition photos printed on .45 inch thick metal panels have a sleek, clean look. These prints are also glass free and with rounded corners, making them resistant to breakage. Depending on the selected finish, metal prints have a metallic coating appearance. This is different from the softer material and more vibrant color on a canvas print.

Acrylic vs Canvas

Acrylic prints and canvas prints differ in material, texture, and appearance. While canvas prints are printed directly onto the cotton or linen material, acrylic prints are printed onto photo paper. This print is then pressed between acrylic sheets or plexiglass. Both of these types of prints have vivid color, but a canvas print would look more similar in texture to something you’d see in a museum.

Art Print vs Canvas

Art prints most notably differ in size, texture, thickness, and finish. Where a canvas print is printed on cotton or linen canvas, an art print is printed on cardstock. Our premium cardstock can either include a matte finish or Pearl Shimmer finish. Either option appears as a clear, and crisp image with vivid colors. The final major difference between a non framed art print and a canvas print is price, where the art print would be considerably less.

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.

Types of Canvas Print Layouts

Canvas types and choices easily differ depending on the space and layout of your wall. If you’re trying to decide what kind of canvases work best for your room’s layout, check out our advice below.

  • Single Canvas: Single canvases are a great choice or large, statement pieces or for smaller spaces in your home where more than one canvas print feels crowded.
  • Multi-panel: If you have a larger wall space or plenty of room for canvas prints, you may want to create a multi-panel layout. Whether you use 2, 3, or even 10 canvas prints, you can develop a beautiful layout that fits any space. For additional help make sure to visit our resource on how to hang canvas art.

Canvas Shapes and Sizes

Looking for the perfect canvas shapes and sizes to fit your space? We’re here to help. Check out our descriptions and use cases below. And if you want additional information, make sure to visit our resource on canvas sizes.

Square

Square canvas prints have equal lengths for each side of the print. This shape of print is perfect for creating a grid layout on a wall and for use of multiple canvases.

Rectangular

Rectangular canvas prints include prints when two sides of the canvas are longer or shorter than the other two. These prints are great for walls where there is an unequal amount of space either vertically or horizontally or for filling gaps in an asymmetrical layout.

Hexagon

Hexagon canvas prints are six sided polygons. This unique canvas shape works great as a statement piece is a special space or as a clustered piece in a honeycomb-like pattern of canvas prints.

Mini Sized

Mini canvas prints, easel back canvas prints, and other small art prints are perfect for filling those small spaces around your house with fond memories. So if there’s an open gap on your shelf or on a bedside table, check out the sizes below:

  • 4×4: A tiny square canvas print, perfect for fitting in the corners of bookshelves.
  • 4×6: A size with similar proportions on a smaller scale to the 5×7. This size work great for the top of desks or bedside tables.
  • 6×6: This small, square sized canvas print works great for small spaces like spots in larger arrangements or in the bathroom.
  • 5×7: This standard photo size canvas print is great for smaller wall spaces in the bedroom, bathroom, and stairways.

Small to Medium Sized

Small to medium canvas prints are perfect for creating multi canvas print layouts in larger rooms, or for filling smaller walls in the bedroom or bathroom.

  • 8×10: This canvas size is a standard printed photo perfect for family pictures or momentos from travels when hanging in smaller rooms.
  • 10×10: Compared to the 8×10, this size is slightly larger and square, making it perfect for multi canvas layouts.
  • 10×20: A 10×20 is perfect for highlighting a special landscape photo or for unique wall space.
  • 11×14: This medium sized print looks great as a guest bedroom stand alone or a part of a varied layout on a larger wall.
  • 12×12: Very similar to the 10×10, but slightly larger, making it the better option for walls with more space when creating a multi canvas layout.
  • 14×16: This substantial size works great for family holiday pictures, portraits, or wedding photos.

Large & Oversized

If you have plenty of wall space, a special family portrait, or a favorite high quality photo, these extra large canvas prints might be the best choice for you. Check out our breakdown of sizes below:

  • 20×20: A 20×20 canvas print is the perfect way to showcase a special photo in either a gallery wall or as a stand alone.
  • 20×24: This portrait ready size looks great in bedrooms, guest rooms, and hallways.
  • 24×24: It’s large, square, and perfect for placing above a signature piece of furniture or above a headboard.
  • 24×36: This tall canvas looks great hanging above a sofa as a stand alone photo.
  • 30×40: This large stand alone canvas print is perfect for living rooms and offices, or anywhere that you want to impress guests.
  • 36×36: Searching for a canvas print that looks like it might belong in a museum? This size is best used as a stand out piece in a large room.

Popular Designs for Canvas Prints

Each canvas design can be customized specifically to match your tastes, preferences, or room design and layout. Check out the most popular designs for canvas prints below to find your best fit.

  • Modern: Modern canvas prints often focus on bold colors, unique shapes, and other modern designs.
  • Family Photo: Whether it’s a holiday family portrait or a picture from a family reunion, these are common subjects for canvas prints.
  • Abstract: Abstract designs are perfect for the living spaces in a home with modern or minimalistic interiors.
  • Inspirational/Quotes: Many families love adding a meaningful quote to a decorative canvas, which help brighten any room of the house.
  • Pets: Families with especially photogenic pets may prefer hanging a canvas or two featuring their furry best friend. Getting their pet to sit still for a photoshoot is another matter.
  • Landscapes: Whether the photos are from a family trip or even just a nearby location, landscape photos look great on canvas. Just make sure your photo is high enough quality before printing.
  • Maps: Map designs and prints are another popular option for canvas prints.

Common Questions About Canvas Prints

If you still have a few questions about canvas prints, we’ve got you covered. We’ve made a list of the most common questions about canvas prints below, just for you.

binding of canvas print

How Much Does A Canvas Print Cost?

The cost of a canvas print largely depends on the size of the print. Smaller canvas print sizes cost as little at $20, whereas larger prints can cost up to $200. This price can also be affected by discounts, promotions, and additions, such as adding a frame. Please note that you will also have to add the shipping cost to the final total.

Can You Frame Canvas Prints?

Canvas prints can be either framed or unframed, depending on your decor and preference for the room. The frames must be thick enough to contain the entire canvas print however. You can also order framed canvas prints so that you don’t have to find the right frame later.

Is It Hard To Hang A Canvas?

Hanging a canvas isn’t hard if you follow instructions. Different ways to hang canvas prints include the following:

  1. Nails
  2. Sawtooth Bracket
  3. Eye Hooks
  4. J-Hooks
  5. Adhesive Strips

For more specific help or instructions please visit our resource on how to hang canvas art.

Will Canvas Fade Over Time?

Shutterfly’s fade-resistant inks are created to last, but there’s a few key things you can do to help preserve your canvas prints for as long as possible. First, you’ll want to make sure that the company you purchase your canvas print from prints UV resistant product. Secondly, you’ll want to keep all canvas prints out of direct sunlight. And if you really want your print to last, consider placing it behind a protective glass frame.

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.

Where And How To Order Canvas Prints

Ready to start printing? Simply follow the steps below to order your forever canvas prints.

  1. Visit our home decor options to get started. Select either Canvas Prints and Framed Canvas Prints. When you find a style you like, click on a size to select it, then click “Personalize” to get started designing your print.
  2. Once in the design path, select ‘Get pictures’ to choose pictures to use on the canvas print. You can select photos from multiple sources and albums.
  3. Your selected photos will appear in your project in a bar below the canvas print layout.
  4. Place your pictures on the canvas print by dragging them to the designated photo spaces.
  5. Once a picture has been added to the layout, you can click to adjust cropping, fix red-eye, or apply photo effects.
  6. If your selected layout includes text boxes, you can click on those to add or edit text.
  7. You can choose different layouts and backgrounds using the options on the left, as well as change sizes and add a frame.
  8. When you’re finished designing your canvas print, click “Preview.” Then, click “Back to Editing” to make additional changes, or “Add to Cart” to proceed to checkout.