- Their versatility (they can look at home in just about any room and with any decor)
- Just about all images work well on canvas
- They are glare free
- They are relatively inexpensive canvas prints without sacrificing durability or quality
- They are not waterproof or scratch resistant (maybe don’t hang them where your toddler can get to them)
- If not cared for, canvas might not last as long as acrylic prints
- They’re waterproof! You can hang them indoors or out, and they’ll be just fine.
- They can last much longer than canvas prints
- They are durable enough to handle being displayed in high-traffic areas where people might touch them
- They’re expensive
- They will not work with all decor or photography types (I think wedding photos on acrylic look too cold and harsh)
- Most acrylic prints have TONS of glare
- They are expensive to ship because they’re so heavy
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Acrylic prints have been making a comeback in the past decade. Yet, I’ve never done a canvas vs. acrylic prints article despite having many canvas prints and many acrylic prints in my home.
They can serve such different purposes given their vastly different construction and how they make images look.
So, I figured it was time to hash this one out!
How Canvas Prints Are Made
Canvas prints are lovely. I have dozens of them throughout my home. But, before I had the folks over at CanvasHQ walk me through the process, I didn’t really know how they were made or what kind of process went into it.
I’ve used CanvasHQ for my canvas prints for years. I sent the wrong print to their customer service representative, and because of our correspondence leading up to the transaction, they caught it for me.
So, the first step of creating a canvas print is to choose a company you trust.
Once you send your print over, it will be printed on a state-of-the-art printer with 6 different deep inks to be able to best replicate the colors you see on your computer screen.
The print makers will then cut your canvas and ready it for stretching.
Stretching is the part of the canvas making process that is easiest to mess up. If the canvas isn’t stretched properly, it could bubble down the line.
Next, your wooden frame is created. Again, I like CanvasHQ because they hand craft each frame.
They also only use kiln-dried wood, which ensures the frame won’t warp with moisture over the years.
As pictured above, all of CanvasHQ’s frames use staples as opposed to glue. Stay away from canvas companies that use glue in the construction of their frames. Canvas prints are expensive and you don’t want their usefulness to wash away with bad craftsmanship.
The first time I ever purchased a canvas print I got a splinter on the wood while hanging it on my wall. Apparently this was due to the fact that the canvas company I was using didn’t properly sand down the frame. But, again, I’ve found with CanvasHQ that this is not a problem.
It’s that kind of attention to detail that makes all the difference!
The canvas maker then aligns your picture to the frame and staples it along each edge.
Lastly, you just hang it up on your wall!
Those are the basics on how canvas prints are made. Though it sounds easy enough, trust me when I say that some companies rock it out, like CanvasHQ, and others simply are not up to snuff.
See what I mean in my secret shopper canvas print shootout.
Pros and Cons of Canvas Prints
In the age-old battle of canvas vs. acrylic prints, canvas gets a bunch of points for the fact that it’s about half as expensive as acrylic.
Other pros of canvas prints include:
The cons of canvas prints include:
How Acrylic Prints Are Made
Acrylic prints are made using one of two methods. The first method prints your photo directly onto acrylic and seals it with a back coating. The second, known as facemount, takes your photo, prints it onto paper and sticks it behind an acrylic front.
For the first method, the shop basically just owns a super fancy printer that works on acrylic.
The above video by BumbleJax covers how facemount acrylics are created.
Essentially, once your photo is printed, the acrylic creator will apply a double sided adhesive to your print before spraying it with air. This is the most important step because even one speck of dust can ruin an acrylic print.
They then feed your print through a machine that applies it to acrylic.
Again, the process seems pretty straightforward in terms of how these prints are made, but just like canvas prints, there is a wide range of quality between good acrylic prints and poor ones.
Pros and Cons of Acrylic Prints
As I noted above, acrylic prints are expensive compared to canvas. Depending upon the size, they can be upwards of $500-$1000.
But, they are also really vibrant, as you can see in the video above by Pro Lab. If you’re a landscape photographer, I believe it’s almost a necessity for you to have at least one acrylic print of your work.
Acrylic prints lend a 3D feel to your photography that canvas simply cannot emulate.
The pros of acrylic prints include:
The cons of acrylic prints include:
Canvas vs. Acrylic Prints: The Conclusion
photo by ChristinLola via iStock
Unless you’re splurging for a photography show where you’re planning on selling your print, I’d go with canvas prints for their affordability and weight. Affordable canvas prints does not mean you would get low quality prints rather the quality would be very good.
I tend to move pretty frequently and a heavy piece of acrylic, which, in some cases needs to be specially mounted to my wall, just doesn’t work with my lifestyle.
If I specialized in landscape photography, however, I would probably have my fair share of acrylic prints.
So, ultimately, the choice between canvas and acrylic really comes down to expense and application.
Either way, be sure you do your due diligence before selecting a canvas or acrylic printer, because it isn’t just the quality of your image that influences how the print looks, but also the craftsmanship of the printmaker.