Properties of Canvas Fabric


Canvas is a heavy-duty fabric weave that has been used for centuries. Canvas fabrics have been used to make boat sails, tents, tarps, handbags and even air bags in vehicles. Canvas can be made out of a wide variety of materials, each with its own set of properties.

Cotton Canvas Fabric

  • One of the most common types of canvas fabric is made out of cotton. According to Sin Seng Guan & Co., a textile manufacturer, cotton canvas is a medium-strength fabric that is between 10 and 20 times stronger when wet opposed to dry. Untreated cotton canvas fabrics are absorbent and the fibers will swell as a result. The canvas is slow to dry. Because it absorbs water, the fabric is susceptible to mildew and molds. The fabric is also very flammable. Additional chemicals can be added to help waterproof and reduce the flammability of the fabric.

Linen Canvas Fabric

  • Linen is another type of natural fiber than can be woven into canvas fabric. According to the Textile Furnishings website, linen is two to three times stronger than cotton. Linen is also considered the least elastic of all natural fibers, meaning that once stretched, it will not return to its original size. The linen canvas is also highly absorbent and wrinkles very easily, which is similar to cotton. Linen canvas is a popular type of art canvas used by professional artists, according to the Cheap Joes website.

Hemp Canvas Fabric

  • According to the Hemphasis website, the word canvas derived from the word cannabis. Hemp, which was popular as a rope-making material, can also be woven into canvas fabric. Hemp canvas has multiple advantages over cotton canvas, including its resistance to mildew, rot and light. Hemp canvas is also known to actively repel insects. Hemp fibers are very elastic and can withstand higher temperatures than cotton without degradation.

Synthetic Fibers

  • Canvas fabric can also be made out of synthetic fibers. These canvas weaves can be completely synthetic or a blend with natural fibers. The advantages of synthetic fibers includes the ability to make lightweight canvases with better mildew, rot and water resistance properties than any of the natural fibers available. The synthetic fiber canvas fabric can also be used for heavy-duty purposes. Common types of synthetic fibers used to create canvas fabrics include polyester and nylon.


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