What are Canvas Prints?

One of the most popular print products today is a canvas print. Most people that see a canvas print for the first time ask questions similar to “is it a painting?”, “is it a print?”, “is it a print that has been transferred onto a canvas?”. The simple answer is yes to all of these questions.

For hundreds of years, people have been painting portraits and other images on various papers including canvas. Whether the artist used oil paints, acrylic paints, charcoal, or watercolors, they have been able to present their rendition of the world for others to see. Many of these paintings have lasted for many generations and are still enjoyed today. With the innovation of technology, anyone can now “paint” their photo or image onto a canvas and have it last for generations. To accomplish this feat, the use of inkjet printers is required.

Not all canvas prints are created equal. There are four things to consider when looking at a canvas print: ink, paper, coating, and stretcher bars.

The longest lasting inks are pigment based. Many of the big main ink and paper companies have had their inks and papers tested by 3rd parties to rate their longevity. These 3rd parties generally rate these combinations to last for over 100 years. Some print companies make their own ink and papers to save substantially in material costs, but do not have the combinations tested. Even without the 3rd party testing, they “claim” their ink and papers will last over 100 years. Some of the 3rd party testers have unofficially tested a few of the non oem inks and papers. These results have generally shown longevity of less than 10 years if not less than 5 years.

No matter what printer is used, all canvas prints should be coated to help protect them from the elements and UV rays. Many coatings actually help extend the longevity of the canvas print.

The last component to consider is the stretcher bar. Just like inks, some companies use lower quality woods, thin woods, or composite woods to save on costs. Low quality and thin woods tend to make the canvas print likely to bend and sag over time. Composite woods (MDF) have more acids in them than regular woods and will help eat through the canvas over time.

The old saying, you get what you pay for is generally true. If the canvas is only going to be wall decor that you only want for five years, the cheap quality will work. But, if you have a family photo that you want to stand the test of time, a higher quality canvas print would be suggested.

Image provided by Rachel Olson Photography

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