Linen Canvas: Understanding the Differences Between Cotton and Linen Canvas

Linen Canvas: Understanding the Differences Between Cotton and Linen Canvas

If you’re exploring other fabric options like duck, linen, or traditional cotton for apparel and home needs, here are a few things to consider.

For painters, cotton canvas and linen canvas are the two primary types of canvas available. Both are made from different types of fabric; linen canvas is made from flax, while cotton is made from the cotton plant. Aside from what they are made out of, there are some notable differences between the properties of the two types of canvas.

Discover which fabric would be more suitable for your painting practice by studying the differences between cotton canvas and linen canvas in this guide.

Further Reading:

What is Linen Canvas?

This fabric blend of 45% cotton and 55% linen has a medium weight and a lovely natural texture. It combines the softness of cotton with the durability of linen. While its absorbency makes it a favorite for tea towels, the slubby hand adds character to table linens.

Makers love creating drapes and Roman shades from this fabric due to its medium light transparency, and it adds charm to throw pillows. One of the most adaptable materials, linen cotton canvas opens up a world of creative possibilities with uses ranging from bags and backpacks to embroidery projects and stretched canvas art.

Linen Canvas: Understanding the Differences Between Cotton and Linen Canvas


  1. High quality: For lasting artwork, linen canvas is a better option due to its reputation for quality and durability.
  2. Smoother and easier to paint on: Linen canvas has a texture that is smoother and easier to paint on, making it a great option for artists looking to produce high-quality artwork.
  3. Durable: For artwork that will last for a long time, linen canvas is a better option because it is more rigid and durable.


  1. More expensive: Being more expensive than other types of canvas, linen canvas is a less practical choice for creatives on a tight budget.
  2. Less readily available: Compared to other types of canvas, linen canvas is less widely available, making it more difficult for artists to locate and buy.

Characteristics of Linen Canvas

  • Made From Flax Plant Fibers: Linen canvas is made from the fibers of the flax plant. A material known for its tensile strength and high quality, canvas is made by weaving together the fibers.
  • Durable and Rigid Material: Canvas made of linen is renowned for its rigidity and durability. Due to its ability to endure the test of time, it is a better choice for artwork that will last for a long time.
  • Smoother and Easier to Paint on: Compared to cotton canvas and other types of canvas, linen canvas is smoother and simpler to paint on. For artists who want to produce high-caliber work, it is the best option.
  • Higher Quality and More Expensive: The price of linen canvas is typically higher than that of other types of canvas due to its strength, rigidity, and ease of use. However, for artists who want to produce high-quality, long-lasting works of art, their quality and durability make it a worthwhile investment.
Linen Canvas: Understanding the Differences Between Cotton and Linen Canvas

What is the Longevity of the Two Materials?

Linen will stand the test of time, whereas cotton won’t to the same extent. If you plan to sell or pass down your artwork to future generations, it is an investment.

In comparison to cotton, the threads that make up linen fabric do not expand or contract as much in response to moisture content. In different environments, whether they are humid or dry, they are more stable. The oil-filled fibers of linen fabric also prevent the canvas from brittleness with time. So I would suggest painting on linen if you want to sell your artwork, advertise it as “fine art,” charge more for it or send it to a gallery.

Cotton Vs Linen Canvas: Which is More Suitable for Oil Painting?

Because it is more rigid and unlikely to warp, linen is better suited for oil painting than cotton. The paint film hardens when the oil dries. Oil paint film could crack if a cotton canvas warps excessively.

Cotton won’t warp if kept at a constant temperature and in an environment without sharp changes in humidity. Therefore, losing the shape of a cotton canvas is a rare occurrence, but it is more likely to occur with cotton than with linen. For professional artists, linen’s durability is what makes it more desirable.

You don’t need to worry as much about the possibility of the paint film cracking when using cotton canvas because acrylic paint dries to a flexible film.

Cotton Vs Linen Canvas: is the Texture Different?

Linen Canvas: Understanding the Differences Between Cotton and Linen Canvas

The texture of cotton is more pronounced but more constant. Small brushes and delicate lines may get lost in the weave, so this is less suitable for work in fine detail.

The texture of linen is distinctive. Additionally, to being finer and better suited for painting in detail, it also has a more organic appearance. Oil and acrylic paint both require a slight surface texture to adhere to the surface, so linen’s surface texture makes it ideal for these two paint types.

You can buy both linen and cotton canvases in a range of textures from smooth to rough that the manufacturer has smoothed and primed.

Cotton Vs Linen: How Do You Prepare the Canvas for Painting?

To paint on canvas, whether it be cotton or linen, the fabric must first be stretched around wooden bars and primed.

For artists who want a surface they can pull out of the package and start painting on, there are many ready-made options available. Manufacturers such as Winsor & Newton and Canvases are prepared for painting by Belle Arti’s application of gesso as a primer.

The preparation process for raw canvas is the same, despite whether you are working with linen or cotton.

Make sure you read the product description before purchasing a ready-made canvas. It will inform you if gesso has already been used or not. A canvas that is labeled as ‘universally primed’ will have been prepared with acrylic sealant and gesso. Choose to paint with acrylic or oil on universally primed canvases. However, only use oils to paint on “oil-primed” canvases.

For a smoother surface, which is better for painting in fine detail, sand your primed canvas with fine-tooth sandpaper, then apply a few extra coats of gesso.

Cotton Vs Linen: Which is More Expensive?

Linen Canvas: Understanding the Differences Between Cotton and Linen Canvas

Although it can be more expensive, professional painters frequently choose to purchase linen canvas because it is stronger and more durable. Fewer companies offer linen canvases. The fabric can be stretched and primed after being purchased. Painters who use this technique enjoy having control over how their painting substrate will turn out.

Cotton is more widely available and less complicated to make. It’s simple to locate numerous brands that sell cotton canvases for incredibly low prices. Artist-grade cotton is stronger because it is more tightly woven, but it will cost a little more.

Examine your options and your budget. Cotton is a good choice if you’re looking for a cheap practice surface. With a variety of mediums, it is still a high-quality surface. Get used to how it feels to paint on canvas by practicing on cotton before you invest in linen.

Linole is a wise investment to make if you want to work large, sell your paintings, or if you prefer something more rigid and high quality.

Common Canvas Materials

The most popular types of canvas are listed here.

Cotton Vs Linen

When compared to cotton-based canvas, linen canvas is made from woven flax fibers and is similarly strong and long-lasting. Some linen canvas is slightly more rigid and longer lasting than canvas made from cotton. Cotton canvas is typically more supple and smooth in comparison to linen canvas.

Learn more about linen in our fabric guides:

Cotton Canvas Vs Duck

Canvas and duck canvas, which are made of cotton, are very similar fabrics. Actually, duck canvas is a less expensive variety of cotton canvas with a tighter weave. Duck canvas is more commonly used for industrial applications, so if you’re looking for a fabric to use in bedding or clothing applications, cotton canvas would be a better choice.

Cotton Canvas Vs Regular Cotton

Although the source plant for both cotton canvas and traditional cotton fabrics is the same, there are significant differences in the production method and typical weave types. While cotton canvas is meant to deliver strength over softness, regular cotton used in delicate clothing frequently features a more precise weave or knit for a softer feel against the skin.

It is possible to find a soft cotton canvas that is resilient and won’t feel scratchy or rough after repeated use. Many cotton canvas fabrics used in clothing are made from a slightly softer grade of cotton for improved comfort while still providing the traditional canvas benefits.

Conclusion: What is Linen Canvas Fabric?

It is an absolute pleasure to work with heavy to mid-weight cotton linen canvas fabrics. The choice between cotton and linen canvas ultimately depends on the specific requirements and preferences of the artist. Each type of canvas has specific advantages and disadvantages.

Inquiring into your feelings regarding stretching your own canvas may be a good idea. When you first start out, linen is not only pricey but also difficult to stretch. Although pre-stretched canvases are also available for those who don’t feel comfortable stretching their own, cotton is easier to work with.


Can Linen Canvas Be Used for Acrylic Paintings?

Acrylic paintings can be made on linen canvas, yes. In fact, because it has a smoother texture and is of higher quality, many artists prefer linen canvas for acrylic paintings.

Is Linen Canvas More Difficult to Paint On?

Due to its tighter weave and more rigid texture, linen canvas is typically smoother and simpler to paint on than cotton canvas.

Does Linen Canvas Shrink Wet?

Linen shrinks dramatically in reaction to humidity and moisture. When stretching over a frame, shrinkage later is desirable. For this reason, we normally recommend that artists stretch linen canvas when humidity is low because canvases stretched in a humid environment tend to “relax” and go slack later.

Does Linen Canvas Shrink?

Cotton Linen canvas will be softened by pre-washing and will shrink quite a bit. tumble dry and use a warm machine to wash.

How Much Does Linen Canvas Cost Compare to Cotton Canvas?

Since linen canvas is of higher quality and is regarded as a premium material for artists, it is typically more expensive than cotton canvas. The exact cost of linen canvas can vary depending on factors such as the size and quality of the canvas.

Don't forget to share this post.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.