What is Canvas Material – Uses & Types

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What is canvas material? You might have heard about this particular fabric when talking about oil paintings. While that is known as canvas, there are also other applications for this popular fabric. With that said, learn more about what canvas material is, and its various applications are below.

What is Canvas Fabric, What is Canvas Material Made Of?PinWhat is Canvas Fabric, What is Canvas Material Made Of?


What Is Canvas Material Made Of?What is Canvas Material`s Properties?DurabilityLow Thread CountWater ResistantWhat is Canvas Material Origins?What Are the Different Types of Canvas?How is Canvas MadeWhat Is Canvas Material Used For?What Are the Advantages And Disadvantages Of Canvas?How Much Can Canvas Cost?What Is Canvas’ Impact on the Environment?How to Clean Canvas?Cleaning Canvas ShoesCleaning Canvas FurnitureWhat Is Canvas Material – In Conclusion

What Is Canvas Material Made Of?

Canvas material is a fabric typically made of cotton or linen with a plain weave. How it is woven is a critical factor in attaining its outstanding durability. Canvas can also be made from hemp or PVC and other synthetic fibers, but these are less common.

Canvas fabric has been essential in some of our most significant milestones throughout history. For example, canvas was used in sailcloth, which resulted in progressing countries stumbling upon many discoveries centuries ago. It was also used for manifesting the countless ideas of renowned artists through paintings. Additionally, canvas is also produced as a wearable fabric. It can be used for sneakers and bags because of its heavy-duty and waterproof capabilities. 

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What is Canvas Material`s Properties?


As mentioned, cotton canvas is an incredibly durable fabric. This is due to tightly woven cotton or linen created in a plain-weave pattern, forming a thick material. In fact, this fabric is similar to denim in terms of durability and thickness.

What is Canvas Material - Plain WeaveWhat is Canvas Material - Plain WeavePinWhat is Canvas Material – Plain Weave Warp and Weft

Low Thread Count

Most canvas materials have a low thread count. This means that as you cut it and observe the edge, you’ll find fewer threads protruding than a fabric with a high thread count.

Canvas material can also have a softer texture by increasing its thread count. However, it needs to sacrifice its thickness and durability to make this happen.

Water Resistant

Another unique property of canvas is that it is naturally water-resistant due to its thickness. Canvas can be further reinforced by adding a finishing coating. These qualities are what make canvas a popular fabric for the outdoors.

What is Canvas Material Origins?

Now that you have a better idea of what is canvas let’s discuss its impact throughout history. While it is popularly made from cotton, the term “canvas” was originally derived from the word “cannabis.” This is because canvas was initially sourced from hemp, a plant in the cannabis family and a close cousin of marijuana.

The people of India started using cotton instead of hemp around 1500 B.C. As the world continued and the age of imperialism and exploration was in its heyday, trading remained the prevalent mode of exchange. That is why the reputation of canvas spread throughout the leading nations at the time, particularly in Europe.

Many people liked canvas because the material was considered durable and easy to transport. It became mainstream when artists across Europe during the medieval ages and the age of thinking began using canvas for oil paintings. This immortalized many masterpieces throughout the centuries. Until today, this fabric remains relevant, particularly in the art industry.

What is CanvasWhat is CanvasPinWhat is Canvas

What Are the Different Types of Canvas?

Now you know more about what is canvas, it is also essential to identify its types. Modern canvas has 8 main types:

Drop Cloth – It is an absorbent subtype of duck canvas used for making slipcovers and painter’s drop cloths.Duck Canvas – This is also known as cotton duck canvas. It is made from coarse yarns that have been tightly woven together. It is used for itms constantly dealing with intense pressure like shoes and tents.Marine-Grade Canvas – This refers to all canvas fabrics used in marine applications, such as boat cushion coverings and awnings. It is composed of strong acrylic fibers.Needle Point Canvas – Needlepoint canvas is an open-weave fabric with small holes in between the yarns. It is mainly used in needlepoint embroidery.Organic Canvas – Also known as ‘plain’ canvas, this is made from 100 percent organic cotton fibers.Polyester-Cotton Blend Canvas Material – This canvas is composed of cotton and polyester woven together. Nowadays, it is used for painting and also for printing photos and other artworks.Waste Canvas – This type of canvas has a loose thread with a grid pattern which is needed for embroidery.Waxed Canvas – This is a type of canvas uses wax as its coating. It is used for making bags, jackets, and outdoor gear.

How is Canvas Made

By now, you have a clearer idea of what is canvas material and its types. To help you better understand these differences, the general steps of how canvas is made are stated below.

Materials Preparation – The base material of canvas has gone from hemp to cotton and, now occasionally, PVC. Man-made versions of canvas offer a more economic advantage in the art world and have gained a reputation of being more suitable to the application of acrylic paint.Yarn Production – After selecting one of the base materials, the yarn can now be made. As the process continues, the yarn is usually carded instead of combed. This is done so because softness is an irrelevant factor for canvas, with sturdiness being what is canvas all about.Weaving – After producing the yarns, they will now be woven together. The spacing and patterns can differ depending on the application, but most canvas fabrics are made using two-ply yarn. For art use, using single-ply yarn is sufficient.Finishing – After weaving all those yarns, the resulting material may or may not be applied with a finishing layer. If the canvas is for industrial use, a PVC layer will be applied to the outer surface. For painting and textiles, the canvas will be bleached first and then applied with a layer of gesso.

What Is Canvas Material Used For?

Canvas is often used for the following applications:

PaintingTentsBagsShoesBackdropsCoveringsJacketsFurniture UpholsterySails (old boats)

You may have observed that the majority of its uses are outdoor. This is due to its durable quality and waterproof properties. Therefore, it is used for many outdoor applications.

What is Canvas Used ForWhat is Canvas Used ForPinWhat is Canvas Material Used For

What Are the Advantages And Disadvantages Of Canvas?

Canvas’s strong points have made it one of the most popular materials used today. However, there can also be disadvantages to using canvas. To give you a clearer idea, here are the pros and cons of using canvas:


Durability.Able to be easily printed.Washable.Water-resistant.Highly moisture wicking.Not prone to pilling. Chemical treatments can be added enhance its properties. It can be treated for flame retardation, mildew resistance, and increased low maintenance.


Chemicals used in the treatment are not that eco-friendly.Low breathability.Canvas doesn’t have much drape so it is not suitable for most clothing items.

How Much Can Canvas Cost?

The canvas prices can vary. Cotton and linen-made canvas are the least expensive because they are naturally occurring. Hemp-made canvas can be costlier. Since hemp is also used for medical purposes, its price has increased due to its current demand.

What Is Canvas’ Impact on the Environment?

Now you know what canvas is made of, you can gauge its impact on the environment. If the process used in making canvas involves only natural materials such as cotton, linen, or hemp, it has lower negative implications for the environment.

However, in this modern era, synthetic materials are also used, negatively impacting the environment due to how they are manufactured.

Although gesso is applied in the finishing stage of art canvas, it is still a mixture of natural and synthetic materials, including PVC. While there is an all-natural option for gesso, the ones predominantly used incorporate PVC into their formula.

Rejected or discarded canvas materials, particularly those with traces of PVC, need to be disposed of properly.

How to Clean Canvas?

Now that you understand what is canvas, how it is made and applied, and its impact on the environment, it’s time to learn how to maintain it. To make it more simple, we will be focusing on the maintenance of canvas shoes and upholstery.

Cleaning Canvas Shoes

Remove shoelaces completely.Remove the surface dirt using a brush with soft bristles.Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing a mild detergent and water.Soak the laces for about 15 minutes.While the laces are soaked, scrub the shoe’s surface with a brush soaked in the soapy mixture. After scrubbing all parts, rinse the shoe. Make sure to avoid getting any liquid inside it.After soaking the laces, scrub them while rinsing. Air-dry the shoes and laces or let them be exposed to sunlight.

Cleaning Canvas Furniture

Brush any surface dirt off by hand. You can wipe it off or use force by hitting the surface to remove debris.As you remove the canvas cover, if stated in your furniture’s label that it is machine-washable, you may do so. But to be safe, you can choose the handwashing option. Prepare a cleaning mixture in a bucket. Fill it with 2 gallons of water and approximately half a capful of any mild detergent. Mix well until suds are formed.Soak a cleaning sponge or rag in the solution and use it to clean the canvas’s surface. You can also use a brush with soft bristles for scrubbing stubborn dirt.Rinse the canvas by spraying it lightly with clean water. Allow the newly cleaned canvas to dry naturally. To avoid discoloration, do not expose it to direct sunlight.To protect the canvas from further damage, consider using a fabric protectant. Make sure to follow its instructions.

What Is Canvas Material – In Conclusion

Canvas is a fabric known throughout history for its exceptional durability and functionality. It has both its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully, this has helped you understand what is canvas material and its various applications. Having a deeper understanding means you can consider canvas as your fabric of choice, especially if you’re in the apparel or furniture business, outdoor gear manufacturing, or working in the art industry.

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