Canvas vs Poster (A Simple Comparison: The Difference Between Canvas Prints & Poster Prints, & How To Choose Between Them)

What Is the Difference Between a Poster and a Canvas Print?

There are many differences between posters and canvas prints. So let’s look at both of them separately.

Poster Prints

Posters prints are a kind of reproduction (a copy of an original work of art or photograph) and are one of the cheapest ways to decorate bare walls.

Posters are printed on all kinds of poster paper that differ in size and weight. But typically, posters are easily printed in bulk and use low-quality inks and paper. Posters are also usually printed on smooth semi-glossy or glossy paper.

Its lower standards of quality are what make posters much more affordable than canvas prints. But their lower standards in quality also limit their life span and careful attention to true color is usually not a top priority.

However, when you go to popular sites like Society6 and Redbubble, you’ll quickly find that poster prints that are sold as wall art have more similarities than differences to canvas prints.

Although poster prints are considered to be of lesser quality than other types of prints, sites like Society6 and Redbubble have posters that are printed on high-quality, smooth gloss, or semi-gloss poster paper.

The weight for most poster paper is usually 120-140gsm* which is sturdy enough for temporary posters you would find nailed to a post outside, advertising a band’s gig, or trying to find a missing pet. They can definitely handle a bit of wind and rain.

* GSM means grams per square meter and describes how heavy paper is.

However, posters that are meant to be hung on your walls as art should usually be 185gsm in weight or more if they won’t be framed.

Society6 posters are around 271gsm and Redbubble posters are 185gsm in weight.

Canvas Prints

A canvas print is an image printed (from a printer) on canvas fabric. Canvas prints look similar to oil and acrylic paintings because their surface has the same texture.

Today, canvas prints are usually sold as some kind of stretched canvas print. This just means that the canvas fabric has been pulled tightly over a wooden frame. The staples that hold the canvas to the wooden frame will either be on the sides or the back of the stretched canvas.

An example of what a stretched canvas typically looks like is in Society6‘s product video (below).

Society6 Canvas Prints | Product Video

Typically, high-quality canvas prints are also considered to be giclée canvas prints.

Giclée canvas prints follow these standards:

  • Inkjet Printer: Standard inkjet canvas prints are made using dye-based inks. Giclées canvas prints are made using pigment-based inks.
  • High Resolution and Color: They have the sharpest detail and highest resolution, displaying a full-color spectrum. Giclées canvas prints capture every shade of an original work.
  • Archival Canvas: Giclée canvas prints must be acid-free and of archival quality to ensure longevity.

Basically, giclée prints are better than regular prints because the standards mentioned above are what make them high-quality prints that are very resistant to fading and yellowing.

Canvas prints sold by Society6, Redbubble, and iCanvas are all considered giclée canvas prints.

What’s Better, a Poster Print or a Canvas Print?

The main difference that you’ll see between canvas and poster paper is the texture and thickness. Canvas prints will have a lot more texture and thickness compared to the smooth, glossy paper of a poster.

A canvas print will also typically be more high-quality and durable than a poster, especially if it’s a giclée canvas print.

But, monetarily, canvas prints win over posters most of the time. However, there are always exceptions to every rule. A poster could be a highly valuable collector’s item (like a WWII propaganda poster) or could be signed by someone famous, etc.).

So a canvas is better than a poster, right?

Well, it depends. Each type of print has its place.

There are many benefits to getting posters for your walls. Here are a few:

  • For one, poster prints can be very affordable, which makes them a great option for decorating on a budget. Since they cost very little compared to other types of prints, they also make great gifts for friends and family members.
  • Poster prints are typically easier to hang on your walls since they don’t require any special framing or mounting. However, you can easily get inexpensive, easy DIY poster frames (Amazon) to get a contemporary, polished look.
  • Poster prints can be a good investment if you purchase them from a reputable source. If you find a limited edition or rare poster, it could be worth a lot of money in the future. So, if you’re into collecting things, posters are definitely something to consider investing in.

Some of the benefits of canvas prints include:

  • Canvas prints are often much more expensive than posters, but they’re affordable compared to many other types of wall art. This makes them a great option for people on a budget.
  • Because of the canvas’ texture, high-quality canvas prints can look just as great as an original piece of artwork.
  • Canvas prints are durable and long-lasting. They can last for many years without showing any signs of wear or tear.
  • Since they are lightweight and don’t need framing, canvas prints can be hung without the worry of damage to the walls. Just hang it on a nail or two, or use Command Strips (Amazon). They can also be displayed on a shelf with little effort.
  • Most of us don’t have millions of dollars to go to an art gallery to buy famous paintings from well-known artists. So canvas prints of famous paintings (iCanvas) are a great alternative.
Can a Poster Be Made Into a Canvas Print?

Yes, a poster can be made into a canvas print through a technique called canvas transfer. This is where posters are transferred onto canvases, making the poster look like a painting. Unfortunately, the original poster is destroyed in the process.

Another great way to enjoy your favorite posters is to visit places like iCanvas where they have framed and unframed canvas prints of famous posters. iCanvas also has a printing service where you can create canvas prints with your own photos.

Or showcase the posters you already have with affordable, contemporary poster frames (Amazon).

Conclusion: Which Should You Choose? Poster or Canvas?

When it comes to choosing between a poster and a canvas, there are a few things to consider.

If you’re looking for something that is going to last a long time, then a canvas print is probably the way to go. A canvas print is also a good choice if you’re looking for something that you can hang on your wall without framing.

If you want the artwork or photo to look like a painting, or you prefer a matte finish, a canvas print is also a good choice.

On the other hand, posters are less expensive and easier to find, but they’re not as durable as canvas prints.

However, you can protect your posters from damage caused by sunlight and other environmental factors with a frame that includes UV protection (Amazon). (A simple black or white frame is particularly trendy.)

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what you hope to get out of the artwork.