Stretched Vs. Unstretched Canvas Prints (Which Option Is The Best?)

Canvases have been around for ages. Primarily, artists have used them to paint artworks. But, with the evolution of technology, canvases are extensively used to print all kinds of images.

Both stretched and unstretched canvas prints are now commonly used as a part of interior decoration to cover the otherwise bland walls. Their durability and pocket-friendliness make them a preferred décor option for urban households.

What you print on them is a personal choice. Family pictures, megacity skylines, favorite quotes, jokes, or anything else you would choose for your wall art. Marvels of nature such as beautiful valleys, high mountain peaks, and animals like pandas also make a fine display on your walls.

The Debate

There has been a longstanding debate about whether stretched or unstretched canvas prints are better. Both sides have strong arguments to support their perspective. We’ll look into both a little later, but first, let’s understand the difference between the two.

What Is The Main Difference Between Stretched And Unstretched Canvases?

So what exactly makes stretched and unstretched canvases different?

A stretched canvas is extended over stretcher bars to support it. The canvas is held in place with any excessive fabric stapled to the frame bars.

It gives a neat finish to the canvas, and it can be easily hung on a wall. It can be used for both artwork and printing images. For the former, additional treatment may be required to add longevity to the canvas.

An unstretched canvas, also known as a rolled canvas, is simply one that has NOT gone through the process mentioned above. It can be kept the same way or added to a frame.

Like its counterpart, rolled canvases are commonly used for art and printing photos.

Which is the Better Option?

Both options have pros and cons, and one must weigh all of them before deciding. Let’s learn more about stretched and unstretched canvases.

  1. Part of Decor

A stretched canvas print seamlessly blends into a décor. Whether you have a large single canvas or a split canvas print, it’s perfect for all options.

It can be placed or hung anywhere without additional support. If a décor-appropriate wrap is added, it adds an exquisite charm to the canvas prints.

An unstretched canvas print looks just fine with the décor. It can be incorporated into the interior though you will need to add some support to the canvas, such as a frame. You can select a frame that looks good with your interiors.

  1. Convenience of Use

Stretched canvases are easy to put on a wall since they already have a support mechanism. The stretcher bars support the canvas to be hung with a nail. Similarly, you can just take them off the wall whenever you want.

On the flip side, you need to treat an unstretched canvas to put it on a wall. Putting up a canvas print could be as simple as taping or pinning it to the wall or adding it to a proper frame. There are other options available, but they all have some processing involved.

If you have a framed rolled canvas, it can be easily removed. However, if you have taped or pinned canvas to a board or a wall, you should exercise caution so that the canvas is not damaged in the process.

  1. Maintaining the Canvas

You’ll need to occasionally dust the canvas print to keep it clean. If there are any dirt marks or grime, a moist cloth should clean well. Keeping it away from too much moisture also helps.

An unstretched canvas will need similar care when on display. However, when it is rolled in its container, there is little to no need for any maintenance.

  1. Pricing

Stretched canvases cost more than their rolled counterparts. The former requires manual labour and materials such as stretcher bars, staples, staple guns, etc. If it is a plain canvas meant for painting, it will also need treatment with a primer.

An unstretched canvas has no additional labour or material costs, making them relatively less expensive. You simply roll it and put it in its container.

  1. DIY Project

If you like DIY projects, stretching a canvas can be your thing. It takes a few tools and stretcher bars to complete the job.

A rolled canvas may need some effort to be put on a wall or a board but nothing too exciting. It is a pretty basic chore, not a DIY project.

  1. Storage

Storing canvases, whether stretched or otherwise, is not a difficult task. Stretched canvases need extra space since the stretcher bars make them rigid.

Ideally, store them away from sunlight to avoid light-related damage. You must ensure that the canvases do not contact a sharp surface to avoid damage. Lastly, place them away from the area with molding or high moisture content.

You can store unstretched canvases in less space since they can be easily rolled and stored in a round container. They’re also easier to protect from moisture, sunlight, and other contaminants.

  1. Shipping

Shipping of stretched canvas requires a box and additional cushioning to ensure that it remains safe during travel. It can cost a bit more due to the fragile nature of the package.

A rolled canvas is easier to ship within a round container. It costs less since it occupies less space and is well protected by its container. It will likely cost less to ship compared to a stretched one.

The Bottom Line

Both stretched and unstretched canvases are great options. There is no universal answer as to which one is better as it depends on your particular needs.

A stretched one is ideal if you want to display your canvas prints on a wall. However, you need to take good care of them, especially if you’re storing or shipping them.

A rolled canvas is easier to store and transport with less cost but harder to display. It can also be easily damaged due to the lack of support when put on a wall.

Before deciding on either of the two options, you should consider all aspects. Such considerations can help you use your canvas prints best and make your interiors look amazing.

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