What is Canvas Made From?

Have you ever wondered - What is Canvas Made From? Smart Art Materials

Have you ever wondered what is canvas made from? Nowadays, there are many types of canvas, but I want to talk specifically about Canvas for Painting. So, it's a fabric made from natural cotton or linen fibers that are woven together and usually stretched across a wooden frame called a stretcher, or glued to a panel.


Have you ever wondered - What is Canvas Made From? Smart Art Materials
Cotton Plant

Cotton is a soft, fluffy fiber, and it's more affordable than linen. The cotton fiber stretches easily, and properly prepared cotton canvas will last a long time. When it comes to tightness, cotton also wins. It is possible to stretch cotton much tighter than linen without straining the wooden support around the canvas.

Heavy-grade cotton (which should weigh between 12-15 oz.) can make up for its lack of strength and weight. Important point: cotton is considered too flexible for very large paintings. The most canvases on the market are made from cotton.


Have you ever wondered - What is Canvas Made From? Smart Art Materials
Linen Plant

Linen is a strong, durable surface, it's long lasting and less prone to expansion or contraction due to moisture, but it is expensive. Natural oils in linen help to preserve the fiber’s flexibility and stop the canvas from going brittle.

It is also known for having a more ‘natural’ weaved finish than cotton – a variety of textures and weights are available in both rough and smooth finishes. Thanks to its strength, linen holds up to a heavy painting hand and does not become slack as easily as cotton canvas.  If you want your painting to last then a linen canvas is a sound investment. 

Each fiber is also classified according to its surface texture and weight:

  • The texture depends on the weave and can be rough and fine. A rough texture is preferred by painters who like larger paintings and bold brushstrokes. A finely woven canvas is smooth and best suited to small, finely detailed works (“portrait-grade”).
  • The weight (thickness) depends on the thread density and is measured in ounces per yard. The higher the weight, the better the quality. Try to avoid canvases with weights lower than 8-10 oz.

Overall,  I recommend you to stick with cotton canvas for a start. To find out more about canvases or about other types of the painting surface, check out Canvas for Painting and The Best Surface for Acrylic Painting articles. Please, let me know if you have any comments or question,



6 thoughts on “What is Canvas Made From?

  1. Madeleine says:

    I am a wannabe artist, and have all my acrylic paints, brushes and a nice supply of canvases all ready to go! I asked for them as Christmas gifts 2 Xmases ago but sadly have not done much with it. I have bookmarked your website as a source of information for me. I did not know that about the canvas, I suppose mine must be made of cotton, because they did not cost that much. Thanks for the info!

    • Olga says:

      Hi Madeleine, I promise you one thing – the start is the hardest part of this whole process! Once you start painting/crafting/creating on regular basis, you just can’t live without it 🙂 So…

      Ready, set, go!

      Let me know if you ever need any help.


  2. Tim Bennett! says:

    Hi Olga,

    First I love the website! So colorful and entertaining!

    I have always wanted to paint, but just didn’t got round to it very often, but after reading your post, thought to myself it’s time to get going! I had no idea that there were different types of canvas, so thank you for the information about that. What is your favorite type? I am off now to take a look around your site. Need more information to inspire me! 

    Awesome job!


    • Olga says:

      Hi Tim,

      Thank you, I’m happy to hear that my website is helpful and inspiring. Check out this article to find out more about different types of canvas. My favorite is probably cotton as it’s cheaper yet it completely meets all of my art needs. 

      Please, let me know if you are going to have more questions 🙂

  3. Ernest says:

    I have a few canvas prints hanging on my walls. I like they way they look compared to normal photography or paintings. I never thought to ask what they were actually made from.

    This was a very enlightening article. Next time I buy a large canvas print, I will make sure that it is made from linen as you recommend. It does seem like the quality would be a little better even with smaller prints. Thanks again.

    • Olga says:

      Hi Ernest, thanks for stopping by! So when it comes to canvas prints, it is the whole different story. I’m not sure what is the material that’s been used for this type on canvas, but definitely not the natural fiber (like cotton or linen). This post only applies to canvases for painting. 

      The only thing you need to worry about when buying canvas print is that they are stretched properly – nice and tight 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *