photo by ChristinLola via iStock
Canvas vs. framed prints is an age old argument...
One is cheap; one is durable. One is a family heirloom; the other is in every household.
While I always think how you decide to print your photos depends on what photos you’re printing, there are some essential differences between framed prints and canvas prints every photographer should know about.
Table of Contents
- Framed Prints - How Are They Made?
- Pros and Cons of Framed Prints
- Canvas Prints - How Are They Made?
- Pros and Cons of Canvas Prints
- Canvas vs. Framed Prints: The Conclusion
Framed Prints - How Are They Made?
As always, it depends upon whether you DIY your framed print or outsource. While you can print your photos on a high-quality printer at home, you probably won’t be able to achieve the same quality framed print as a professional.
If you outsource your framing, you’ll want to be involved in choosing the company because they will be choosing the materials. A good company will tell you what type of paper they will be using, whether it will be a luster or matte finish and how heavy the paper is.
You’ll also want to ask what type of ink they are using to print your photos, because a lower-quality ink is a great way to ensure your framed print isn’t as vibrant as it should be.
Once your actual photo is printed onto the paper, the company will then build your frame (which should come with all of the mounting hardware so you can easily hang it up as soon as you get it home).
You will probably be able to choose a finish on your frame. We suggest something noncommittal like black, white or espresso so that your photo stands out and so that you can change out the photo with another print at any time.
After the frame is built, the framing company will then insert a low-glare glass so your photo can work in any part of your home.
See the process of getting a framed print from start to finish in the video above by Nick Carver.
Pros and Cons of Framed Prints
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Framed prints, like canvas prints, are very versatile. You can use a framed print for any picture and any type of photography. Plus, they are very inexpensive. A framed print is one of the only prints you can actually DIY and make it look good.
Framed prints are also a good long-term investment because once you have a high-quality printer for your fine art prints you’ll have it for a very long time and will be able to create as many framed prints as you want to.
However, framed prints don’t necessarily convey the fact that you’re a photographer like a canvas print does. Almost every family has framed prints, so if you’re looking for a method to make you stand out framed prints may not be the way to go.
The pros of framed prints include:
- They are inexpensive
- There’s a wide variety of sizing and frame possibilities
- Pretty much all images work well as a framed print
The cons of framed prints include:
- They are commonplace
- They sometimes don’t have a “Wow” factor
- They typically don’t last as long as canvas prints
Canvas Prints - How Are They Made?
The most important part of the canvas printing process is to choose a company that touches up your photos for free, like CanvasHQ.
If your photo is so much as a half inch off center, or you forgot to remove some acne on your teenage son’s face, the photo will not look good as a finished print and you’ll never hear the end of it.
For those of you who are not new to the printing game, you also know it’s pertinent to ensure you like the look of the colors that will be printed and not just the colors on your laptop screen. For this reason, CanvasHQ uses 6 different inks to perfectly match your photo’s original colors.
Once you’re happy with your image, a state-of-the-art printer will be used to reproduce your image onto canvas.
Once the image has printed, the print makers will cut it and ready it for stretching.
Part of the canvas printing process that most people forget about is the creation of the wooden frame.
Good canvas printing companies will use kiln-dried wood to ensure the canvas won’t warp two decades down the line.
Good canvas printing companies will also never use glue. Glue can lose its usefulness in extreme weather conditions, which is why CanvasHQ uses brads and staples in the development of their wooden frames.
The frames are then sanded down to make sure you don’t catch a splinter while hanging it up on the wall.
Finally, the next step is the hardest part of creating a canvas print. Canvas makers need to align the canvas perfectly to the frame and staple the taut canvas onto the frame.
If the canvas maker messes this step up, the stretch could be uneven or the corners could be bunched.
Pros and Cons of Canvas Prints
Canvas prints aren’t waterproof. With the addition of a glass frame, framed photos are.
But, if you use our recommendation of Canvas HQ, then your canvas photos will be water resistant. They’re basically built to be hung in your garage, workspace, or any number of other places where the canvasses will be beat up a bit.
Canvas prints will also be more expensive than framed prints. But, they will probably last a lot longer and will obviously work as a family heirloom with your best prints.
Canvas prints also look incredibly good in any setting, whereas framed prints can be found in any home. If you have a canvas print it’s a surefire way to show off your photography skills because it will be a centerpiece in any room.
The pros of canvas prints include:
- Their versatility (they’ll never look out of place)
- All images work well on canvas
- They are glare free
- They are inexpensive without sacrificing durability or quality
The cons of canvas prints include:
- They are not waterproof or scratch resistant (maybe don’t hang them where your toddler can get to them)
- They are more expensive than framed prints because it’s extremely hard to DIY a canvas print well
Canvas Vs. Framed Prints: the Conclusion
If you’re looking to create a plethora of prints over the years, you may want to invest in a good printer so you can create framed prints for yourself. But, investing in one or two canvas prints as family heirlooms should be a goal of every photographer.
Maybe I’m just biased given the quality of the canvases I’ve gotten over the years. But I honestly believe that canvas prints are just more special, which is why I choose it to print my favorite photos. You should too!