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Are Canvas Prints Waterproof?

framed canvas print next to glass of water

5 Hacks To Protect Your Canvas Print From Moisture & Humidity

I really love canvas prints.

Print technology has come such a long way, that a high quality image will look amazing printed on canvas.

They are also super affordable, even extra large sizes are great value compared to other print mediums.

Whether you’re a photographer selling your work, or you’re buying canvas prints for home décor, they deliver a fabulous bang for your buck.

But you may be wondering if they are moisture resistant & if it’s a good idea to display them in high humidity.

Are canvas prints waterproof? A typical art or photographic print isn’t waterproof, but water & moisture resistant coatings can be applied. Waterproof canvas prints are available & manufactured specifically for outdoor use.

Not All Canvas Is Created Equal

Canvas is a term used to describe a woven material, canvas in itself isn’t an actual material.

Different materials are used in canvas production for creating prints.

Most commonly are linen or cotton & polyester.

Archival prints will use a type of linen or cotton as the inks are absorbed into the material making them longer lasting.

This type of print, as well as being more expensive, usually produces more subdued colours.

Polyester on the other hand is a less expensive synthetic material.

Because the inks sit on the surface rather than being absorbed, they create more vibrant colours.

Often a cotton/polyester blend is used, as it’s a great compromise that still delivers good longevity but at a more reasonable cost.


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Which Type Of Canvas Is More Waterproof?

A pure polyester print will endure a high moisture environment far better than a cotton print.

Mould & mildew will eventually form on a linen print in such an environment.

But without any type of protective coating, both types of print will degrade over time.

Do Inks Make A Difference?

There’s also 2 types of inks used for canvas printing.

These are dye-based & pigment inks.

Back in the mist of time, dye-based inks were cheaper but had a wider colour range.

But their disadvantage was that they faded quicker & being water soluble ..well yes, you guessed it .. a single drop of water would ruin the print.

Pigment inks came in at a higher cost, had less colour depth but were moisture resistant.

Dye-based inks are made using a soluble colourant dissolved in liquid.

Pigment inks are created by suspended coloured particles.

Pigment inks are the go to for archival printing & offer better colour tone.

Not only ink, but technology has developed so much that both these types of inks when used in a top end professional printer will deliver amazing results.

Which Type Of Ink Is More Water Resistant?

Conclusion ..Pigment inks are more water resistant.

But whatever ink or canvas you use can be a mute point to some degree.

As without any protective coating, both are going to degrade over time, just one faster than the other.

Whichever combination of canvas & ink you choose, a waterproof coating will seal in the canvas & ink to protect it from any environmental contaminants

5 Hacks To Waterproof A Canvas Print

There are some straightforward ways you can protect your print from water damage.

1. Laminate

If you haven’t had your canvas printed yet, there are companies that offer laminating.

This is where a plastic film is applied to the face of the print using a heat press.

Water can’t penetrate this barrier.

You can buy a liquid form of laminate & apply it yourself with a roller or brush.

2. Varnish

It’s possible to use a varnish, either a spray or in liquid form.

But make sure it’s a clear varnish, otherwise when dry it will create a tint or slight hue.

3. Fabric Spray

A simple & easy hack is to apply outdoor fabric spray.

Found in most hardware stores or online, it’s used to waterproof cushions & other fabrics used outside.

4. Polyurethane

Getting a bit more serious, polyurethane will provide an impenetrable barrier against water.

It’s applied as a liquid then dries hard.

It comes in either an oil or water based formula.

Oil based is more durable, but can give a slight discolouration.

Water based has less odour & toxicity & dries clear.

5. Epoxy Resin

Probably the ultimate waterproofing method that will not only protect your print, but will give the print an added depth & wow factor, is applying an epoxy resin.

Easier to apply on smaller canvases, as the weight of the resin could make a larger print droop in the middle.

The video below gives a good explanation on applying it as well as showing the final results.

Custom Made Waterproof Canvas Prints

There are companies that produce canvas prints specifically for outdoor use.

They are waterproof, so much so you can hose them off.

They’re also UV & fade resistant.

One company I found stated it’s hard to give a guarantee on how long they will last though.

Anywhere from 6 months to 5 years, depending on the environment the print is displayed.

What About Frames?

Although you can waterproof the print, certain frames are going to be susceptible to water damage.

The most popular prints are canvas wraps, where the print is stretched over a wooden frame.

High levels of moisture can cause the wood to swell, warp & harbour mould & mildew.

Another way to present a canvas print is in a floater frame.

These can be plastic, metal or wood.


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Obviously the wood will be more prone to absorbing moisture, although the wood can be treated or varnished.

A rolled canvas can be mounted similar to a photographic print.

If the canvas has a waterproof coating, then is mounted behind glass or acrylic inside a plastic or metal frame .. I’d say you’d be pretty safe.


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Final Thoughts

If you’re wanting a photo print for outdoor use or in a wet area like a bathroom, canvas prints will be fine, provided you take some precautionary methods as mentioned & go the extra effort to waterproof them.

I’m not sure of the extra cost to go to these lengths, so maybe an acrylic or metal photo print could be the better option.

I hope this article was helpful & feel free to share.


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