What is Canvas Fabric? Uses & Properties

What is Canvas Fabric? Uses & Properties

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about what is canvas fabric and its uses and properties.

Canvas is a plain-weave, heavy-duty fabric that is commonly desired for its water resistance. Canvas is a fabric with many useful uses that can be applied to people from painters to handbag designers to sailors. It is known for its strength and versatility.

There are other uses for this well-liked fabric in addition to what is commonly known as canvas. Following that, find out more about canvas material and its various uses in the sections below.

What is Canvas Fabric?

A plain-woven fabric known as canvas is typically created from cotton and, to a lesser extent, linen. The strength, stability, and sturdiness of canvas fabric are well known. Canvas can be made to be waterproof or water-resistant by combining cotton with synthetic fibers, making it a great fabric for outdoor use.

Because canvas is a durable fabric that is relatively simple to make, people have used it for centuries. The strength of the plain weave and the use of natural fibers like cotton, linen, and hemp make it durable under a variety of circumstances. Although canvas is not a particularly elegant material, it is incredibly practical and adaptable.

What is Canvas Fabric? Uses & Properties


  • Durability.
  • Easily printable.
  • Washable. (See How to Remove Mold from Canvas Fabric?)
  • Water-resistant.
  • strong moisture wicking
  • Not prone to pilling.
  • Its properties can be improved by adding chemical treatments. It can be treated to be more low maintenance, mildew resistant, and flame retardant.


  • The treatment uses some not-so-environmentally friendly chemicals.
  • Low breathability.
  • The majority of clothing cannot be made from canvas because it lacks much drape.

What are Canvas Material Origins?

We’ll talk about canvas’ historical impact now that you know what it is better. While it is popularly made from cotton, the term “canvas” was originally derived from the word “cannabis.” Initially, hemp, a member of the cannabis family and a close relative of marijuana were used to make canvas, which explains why.

Around 1500 B.C., the Indian population began to substitute cotton for hemp. Trading continued to be the most common form of exchange as the world developed and the age of imperialism and exploration was at its height. Because of this, canvas gained a positive reputation in the world’s most developed nations, especially in Europe.

Canvas was a popular material because it was regarded as strong and portable. It gained popularity when European painters started using canvas for oil paintings during the Middle Ages and the Age of Reason.

Through the ages, this helped to immortalize numerous masterpieces. This fabric is still in use today, particularly in the art world.

How is Canvas Made?

You now have a better understanding of what canvas material is and how it can be used. The general steps used to create canvas are listed below to help you better understand these variations.

  1. Materials Preparation – Hemp was replaced as the primary component of canvas by cotton, and occasionally PVC. In the art world, synthetic canvas is more cost-effective and is known to be better suited for using acrylic paint. Further Reading: Can You Use Fabric Paint on Canvas?
  2. Yarn Production – It is now possible to create the yarn after choosing one of the base materials. The yarn is typically carded rather than combed as the process continues. This is because the canvas is all about durability, not softness, which is irrelevant for the canvas.
  3. Weaving – They will now be woven together after being produced as yarns. The majority of canvas fabrics are made with two-ply yarn, though the spacing and patterns can vary depending on the application. Using single-ply yarn is adequate for artistic purposes.
  4. Finishing – After weaving all those yarns together, the finished product may or may not have a finishing layer applied. The canvas will have a PVC layer applied to the outside if it is intended for industrial use. The canvas will be bleached first and then covered in gesso for paintings and textiles.

What Are the Properties of Canvas Fabric?

Despite how straightforward it is, canvas has a tight plain weave that gives the material stiffness, strength, and water resistance. There are additional characteristics of the canvas.

What is Canvas Fabric? Uses & Properties


Cotton canvas is a very strong material, as was already mentioned. This is due to tightly woven cotton or linen created in a plain-weave pattern, forming a thick material. The durability and thickness of this fabric are actually comparable to those of denim.

Low Thread Count

The thread count of most canvas materials is low. This means that when you cut it and look at the edge, there won’t be as many threads sticking out as there would be in a fabric with a high thread count.

By increasing its thread count, canvas fabric can also have a softer texture. To achieve this, it must, however, be at the expense of its thickness and robustness.

Water Resistant

Another unique property of canvas is that it is naturally water-resistant due to its thickness. An additional finishing coating can be used to strengthen the canvas. These characteristics make the canvas a well-liked outdoor fabric. Learn How to Waterproof Canvas Fabric?

Ways to Use Canvas

With applications ranging from sailing to home d├ęcor to fashion, canvas is a remarkably adaptable material. Here are some of its most popular functions:

  1. Sails. Sails on boats were originally made from canvas though today, most sails are made out of synthetic sailcloth.
  2. Tents. The heavy-duty canvas is a great material for making shelters and is used frequently for making tents and other camping gear.
  3. Bags. Backpacks, tote bags, and other types of bags are frequently made out of canvas. Canvas is a strong, water-resistant material that makes it ideal for use in everyday objects like bags.
  4. Shoes. For footwear, canvas works well because it is both flexible and strong. Converse sneakers and Tom’s espadrilles are both examples of canvas shoes.
  5. Painting. An excellent painting surface is a canvas stretched over a wooden frame. Canvas became popular for painting in the 15th and 16th centuries. Learn how to paint on the canvas fabric.
  6. Backdrops. Photographers frequently use lightweight canvas as backdrops because it is portable and easy to carry.
  7. Coverings. Waterproof canvas fabric is used in numerous industries, such as the military and construction, to cover everything from boats to doorways.
  8. Clothing. Canvas is a common material for jackets and outdoor clothing. The durable and water-resistant qualities made it great for camping and sailing gear as well.
  9. Furniture. Because of its strength and durability, canvas is frequently used to reupholster furniture.

Different Types of Canvas

What is Canvas Fabric? Uses & Properties

There are many different types of canvas, which is one of the reasons why it has so many applications. Each one is tailored to highlight certain canvas properties. With minor variations, the weaving method and fiber composition are the same for all canvases. See what is Linen Canvas and Polyester Canvas.

Duck Canvas

Duck canvas is a typical canvas type used for clothing, shoes, and other applications where a smoother canvas is desired. Other canvas fabrics can’t compare to their higher thread count and finer threads. It is available in twelve different weights for a range of uses that are industry-required.

Waste Canvas

An exclusive type of canvas for sewing and crafts is a waste canvas. Because it is designed to fall apart easily, the weave is much looser. A project, functions as a grid or temporary support. It is useful for adding embroidery to less-sturdy fabrics. Once the embroidery is complete, you pull the threads of the canvas out of the project, like taking down scaffolding after construction.

Embroidery Canvas

Aida cloth is a type of fabric that is specifically designed for embroidery. There are more warp threads than weft in the weave of Aida fabric, which results in tiny boxes in the fabric. This canvas comes in a variety of “counts” which refer to how many boxes there are per inch of fabric. The weave gets tighter as the count goes up. To maintain even embroidery stitches, Aida is designed to remain stiff.

Waxed Canvas

Any type of canvas can have a wax coating applied by manufacturers, hence the term “waxed canvas.” Adding a coating of wax to one or both sides of the canvas fabric makes the canvas fabric waterproof.

Manufacturers can wax one side without concern for wax leaking through due to the tight weave. Manufacturers can also coat the threads in wax before weaving for a similar effect. This is typical for waterproof bags or equipment covers. Learn How to Wax Canvas Fabric?

Canvas for Painting

Another common type of canvas is the canvas for paintings. You may purchase it stretched over a frame or in rolls. Depending on how much of the canvas texture you want to see through the painting, there are different weights and thread counts. Some artists prefer cotton duck for their canvases for a smoother surface, for example.

How to Care for Canvas Fabric?

What is Canvas Fabric? Uses & Properties

How you care for canvas fabric depends on whether or not it has any treatments. For example, the waxed canvas cannot be washed or dried without running the risk of the wax melting. Before washing canvas, be sure to read any care or product tags.

Use a gentle cycle in warm water with mild detergent for untreated canvas. To minimize shrinkage, tumble dry on low heat, or air-dry the item to eliminate all shrinkage. Cotton and linen can both withstand fairly high heat but are prone to shrinkage.

The majority of treated canvas fabrics shouldn’t be machine washed or dried. Waxed canvas or water-proofed canvas is usually resistant to staining. Any dirt or debris ought to be simple to slide off. Use a damp cloth to clean the canvas if it doesn’t come off on its own.

Canvas garments will soften faster the more you launder them. After washing your canvas items, you can iron the canvas and starch them to maintain their stiffness. This will aid in maintaining their original sturdiness.

Can I Print on Canvas?

You absolutely can! Printing on canvas has never been simpler, and it only takes a few easy steps. Simply locate the image, work of art, or even surface pattern that you want to use. Upload it to our design interface next, and after that, feel free to edit!

You can repeat your upload, enlarge it, or make it smaller while still seeing real-time updates. That is really how simple it is. Why not order a test print once you’re satisfied with your design to see how stunning it appears when printed?

What is Canvas’ Impact on the Environment?

With this knowledge, you can evaluate the environmental impact of the canvas. When only natural materials like cotton, linen, or hemp are used in the manufacturing process to create a canvas, the environmental impact is lessened.

However, in this modern era, synthetic materials are also used, negatively impacting the environment due to how they are manufactured. Check out Is Canvas Fabric Eco-friendly?

Gesso is a mixture of natural and synthetic materials, including PVC, even though it is applied to art canvas as the final step in the process. Gesso comes in natural varieties, but the ones that are most frequently used contain PVC in their composition. It is important to properly dispose of rejected or discarded canvas materials, especially those that may have PVC residue.

Conclusion: a Complete Guide to Canvas

One of the most practical and widely used fabrics in the modern era is the canvas. Due to its usefulness, it has survived throughout history. Canvas is the best option for a lightweight yet strong fabric, being used in everything from art to clothing to tents and sailboats.

With more knowledge, you can choose canvas as your preferred material, particularly if you work in the production of outdoor gear, the clothing or furniture industry, or the art industry.


How Much Can Canvas Cost?

Canvases can range in price. The most affordable canvas is made from natural materials like cotton and linen. Canvas made from hemp might be more expensive. Since hemp is also used for medical purposes, its price has increased due to its current demand.

Is Canvas Good for Clothing?

Comfortable and available in a variety of thickness grades, the canvas is a great material for clothing. Again, the adaptability, affordability, and durability of canvas make it a fantastic material for work clothing. Even though the canvas is a stiff material, additional washings do help to soften it and make it very comfortable.

Is Canvas Good for Summer?

Canvas shoes have long been a staple of summer fashion. They are perfect for active days during the warmer months because they are lightweight and made of a material that is fresh and breathable. Beyond that, they are versatile and comfortable.

What Fabric is Similar to Canvas?

In paintings, cardboard is a less expensive alternative to canvas and a fantastic way to recycle. The cardboard needs to be primed with gesso, a primer made of glue, chalk, or gypsum, just like cotton or linen canvas.

Which is Better Canvas Or Polyester?

Cotton canvas is a natural fabric that is breathable and absorbent. It is a good option for heavy-duty use because of its high level of durability. Cotton canvas is not the ideal material for damp or humid environments because it is susceptible to mold and mildew. Cotton is more breathable than polyester canvas because cotton is a natural material.

Can Canvas Fabric Be Dyed?

It is simple to dye fabric made of canvas. Reactive dyes can be used to color untreated, unprocessed canvas made of cotton fibers. Reactive dyes come in powder, liquid, and print paste forms and are reasonably priced.

Reactively dyed canvas does not lose color when cleaned or exposed to sunlight. Furthermore, dye sublimation printing can be used to print on untreated canvas made of polyester fibers.

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