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Types of Canvas Materials for Printing

Many artists expand their audiences by reprinting some of their works onto canvas. This gives the prints a museum-like quality and, in many ways, replicates the look of an actual painting. Two main types of canvas exist—cotton and polyester. Each has its pros and cons. Artists should carefully study each type before agreeing to a reproduction of their work. The difference between the two types of canvas can affect the long-term value of a print.


Canvas prints enhance the quality of prints. While it’s common to encounter paper prints, canvas prints give the print the look of a painting. These prints can be signed and numbered just a like a paper print and are considered works of art in their own right by art collectors. Many artists, like Thomas Kinkade, take canvas printing one step further and have professional artists highlight places on the canvas with oil paint. This procedure really creates the look and feel of an actual painting because upon close examination viewers see the paint flecks.

Types of Canvas

According to Canvas101.co.uk, there are two main types of canvas: cotton and polyester with variations of each of them. The difference between them in terms of materials is that the poly canvases are made from plastic fiber strands, whereas the cotton canvases are made from cotton fibers. The poly canvas has the texture of the cotton type but isn’t actually canvas at all.


Poly canvas is cheaper. For people who only care about their works of art, whether photos or fine art, printed on canvas, this might be the way to go. According to Canvas101.co.uk, many Internet companies providing works on canvas actually use poly canvases on all their print jobs. The color tends to be vibrant.

Cotton canvas tends to be more durable than polyester canvas. It also gives pictures a museum-quality look. Canvas prints hold their value over time. Artists who reproduce their paintings on canvas might be interested in this type of canvas over the other for this reason.


Polyester doesn’t hold up as well in the long-term as cotton canvases do. According to Canvas101.co.uk, it doesn’t absorb the ink as well as cotton does either. The ink sits on top of the canvas rather than penetrating it. This opens the works up to cracking and stretching in the future. Some poly-type canvases can also run pretty thin. Some are even thinner than some print-quality papers.

Artists using cotton should expect to pay more for their canvases as cotton canvas runs higher in price than does polyester canvas. Sometimes, a single print costs almost as much as a roll of poly canvas.


Canvas101.co.uk warns that many companies use polyester canvas, but do not let their customers know. For customers specifically interested in cotton canvas, a little investigating is in order. The site likens the difference between cotton and poly canvases as the difference between buying a fake Louis Vuitton handbag. It looks the same, but the value is drastically different. For artists interested in preserving the value of their printed works, questions like these should not be avoided.

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