Have you ever purchased a canvas print online or at a local store? Canvas wall hangings are extremely popular in my area, but many do not know the differences that canvases hold. Many do not understand that a $10 canvas print might just be made of fiberglass.
According to my research, there are two types of canvases: Polyester and Cotton. Both have their pros and cons, but cotton does stand above the crowd. Both offer a way to print your image and hang it on the wall. Both have some type of wood or stretcher bar and hanging posts. But, what about the quality? What do you get for $20 from an online or local store? Do you even care?
If you do care about the quality and beauty of the image, please read on.
There are two different types of canvases, Cotton and Polyester, and a third made from both. 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. And, the third Poly/Canvas is a mixture of both cotton and plastic fiber strands.
Have you ever seen the specials for incredibly cheap canvas? Most of those very inexpensive canvas options are made from Polyester alone. Plastic fiber strands. And some also have fiberglass in addition to the plastic. Since this type of material is very inexpensive, that value can be passed on to the consumer. The cost is "cheap" but the quality is usually not very good.
Poly/Cotton is a good alternative to Polyester alone. Having the added Cotton in the fabric helps with the durability, look, and longevity. Cotton is a pure material that absorbs the ink much better than the Poly canvas, is more durable, lasts longer and gives you a more museum quality look.
Polyester and Poly/Cotton canvases do not hold up as well in the long-term as cotton canvases do, and do not absorb the ink very well. The ink sits on top of the canvas rather than being absorbed, although, it will be absorbed better with the Poly/Cotton. By not being absorbed, eventually the canvas will crack and stretch thus eventually falling apart. Poly canvas and PolyCotton can also be very thin. The thinner, the less durable.
Cotton is more expensive than Polyester or Polyester/Cotton, but is a much better material than the other two due to the durability, absorption of ink, quality of the stretcher bars and longevity. If you care about quality, choose a canvas that uses Poly/Cotton or better yet, just Cotton.
Since we care about quality, we only use Cotton in our Premium Line, or Poly/Cotton in our Timeless Line. Both offer quality options depending on your budget, wants, and needs.
Another thing to consider, is the use of optical brighteners, chemicals that absorb invisible ultraviolet light and emit it as light our eyes can see. When optical brighteners are used, the canvas looks whiter than white, but is not permanent so the image will not look the same over time.
And, lastly, the weight of the canvas and the color process are all part of the considerations.
WEIGHT OF THE CANVAS
As mentioned earlier, Poly and Poly/Cotton canvases are thinner, and that is due to the GSM, or grams per square meter, of the canvas. Canvases with a higher GSM are heavier, are higher quality, and have a longer lifespan.
COLOR PROCESS & INKS
Some professional canvas printing companies use a pigment based ink process rather than a dye based one. Using pigment inks produces a longer lifespan and uses more colors, which produces a more vibrant sophisticated product.
LESS EXPENSIVE WOOD
Many consumer canvas stores use inexpensive wood that will eventually warp or crack over time.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on what is important to you, most consumer online canvases and canvas printing stores use Poly canvases, dye inks, and optical brighteners. It is more cost effective, so the savings is passed onto their consumers, produces a product that is less expensive, and produces a product with quality issues.
So, there you have it. A very brief overview of the differences between canvas materials and some of the pros and cons of each. Next time you see an ad for a very cheap canvas, just keep these things in mind!
And, if you are interested more in quality with the ability to pass your art to your children and/or grandchildren, give us a call. We would love to create a canvas for you that will stand the test of time.