There’s something so ethereal and beautiful about canvas artwork, wouldn’t you agree? The sheer versatility of the material allows artists to create stunning masterpieces in any style imaginable and use a wide variety of colours and techniques.

If you’re an aspiring painter yourself or are simply looking to use art as the means to decorate your home, you may be wondering what type of canvas is best for your needs. Of course, you can’t just whip out your creative designs on any old surface – that would be a disaster waiting to happen.


What Type of Canvas Do Artists Use?

Generally speaking, there are four major types of canvases in circulation, depending on the way each one is constructed and caters to the artist’s needs.

Stretched Canvases

As the name suggests, sturdy stretched art canvases are canvases that are tightly pulled over a wooden frame – usually made from pine – and secured using staple guns or tacks. This particular design means that the artist can apply paint directly to the canvas without any need for additional support, so it’s the perfect match for those who are looking to achieve a certain textural effect in their work.

stretched art canvases

The way the canvas is attached to the frame also prevents it from sagging or becoming misshapen over time, even if the artwork is particularly large in size. The only potential downside to this type of canvas is that it can be quite costly, depending on the brand and quality you choose.

Additionally, the frame itself may vary in terms of size and thickness. Thinner models usually offer better value for money but may not be as durable, so it’s important to find a balance that suits your needs and budget. If you’re only just starting out, it might be a good idea to invest in a few cheaper options before splurging on a more expensive one.

If you plan on framing your stretched art canvases once they’re complete, you’ll need to leave a few centimetres of extra space around the edges so that the frame can be properly secured. Removing the wood frame entirely is also an option, but this will make the canvas more susceptible to damage.

Canvas Panels

If you’re looking for an alternative to the classic stretched canvas wood panels could be the way to go. These are essentially thin sheets of plywood or heavy-duty cardboard that have been coated with gesso, a type of primer that’s often used by artists.

The kind of panel you use will likely depend on the painting technique you’re planning to employ and the overall look you’re going for. For example, if you’re hoping to create a more textured finish, a thicker plywood panel might be the better option.

One thing to keep in mind with panels is that they will require an extra layer of support, such as a frame, before being hung on the wall. This additional step means that they might not be the most convenient option for those who are looking for a quick and easy solution.

Canvas Pads

Offering a thinner and more lightweight alternative to traditional panels, painting pads are generally made from either paper or cotton. This kind of painting surface is ideal for those who are looking to create smaller pieces of artwork or for those who prefer a more sketch-like finish.

canvas pad

Pads usually come in sketchbook form, with several sheets of paper or fabric glued together at the binding. This construction makes them extremely portable, so they’re perfect for artists who like to paint on the go.

One thing to keep in mind with pads is that they’re not always as sturdy as other types of painting surfaces, so they might not be the best option for those who are looking to create more detailed or complex pieces of art.

Canvas Rolls

Painting rolls are essentially long strips of either paper or fabric that have been glued or stapled together. To use a roll, you simply unroll it to the desired length and either cut or tear it off when you’re finished.

If you’re keen on making larger paintings or murals, this type of support is definitely worth considering. They offer a level of flexibility that can be really handy for those who are working on bigger projects.

Additional Canvas Considerations

Apart from the specific type of canvas, there are a few other things you’ll need to look into before starting your next painting project. They’re not necessarily make-or-break factors but they’re definitely worth taking into consideration.


The materials used to make canvases can vary quite a bit, from traditional cotton to more modern synthetic options. The kind of fabric you choose will likely come down to personal preference, but it’s worth doing a bit of research to see what each type of material has to offer.

fabrics for art canvases

For example, cotton is a popular choice for artists who are looking to achieve a crisp and clean finish. Synthetic fabrics, on the other hand, tend to be more durable and easier to clean, so they might be a better option for those who are looking to create more experimental pieces.


In addition to the fabric itself, the texture of the canvas can also vary quite a bit. If the surface is too smooth, it might be more difficult to achieve the desired effect with your painting. Conversely, if the surface is too rough, it could end up damaging your brush bristles.

The best way to figure out what kind of texture you prefer is to simply experiment with a few options to begin with. If something feels too rough or too smooth, simply move on to something else until you find a surface that feels just right.

Prime or No Prime?

While some options come with an additional layer of primer, others don’t. If you’re hoping to achieve a certain effect with your painting, having a base layer of primer can definitely be helpful. However, it’s not necessarily a vital step, so it’s really up to you whether or not you want to use it.

In general, using a primer can help to create a more even surface and can also provide a bit of extra protection for the fabric itself. If you’re unsure whether or not you need a primer, simply ask one of the employees at your local art store for their opinion.