Do you have old photos that you want to show their age with deep colours and a textured finish? Printing to canvas could be the way to go. And you may be able to do it yourself with a standard inkjet printer.
There are nuances involved in the process though, some of which can ruin the entire process.
The type of canvas that will work with any inkjet printer will be the A4 size. The maximum size will be the maximum width of the paper feeder tray of your printer. That’s often A4, which measures 210mm x 297mm. Given that canvas then needs to be stretched over stretcher bars, requiring at least an inch and a half to cover the bars, then some secured to the reverse of the stretcher bars, the result will not be A4 sized. It will be smaller.
For a larger sized canvas print, a large-format inkjet printer will usually be required.
Factoring for the Extra Weight of Canvas
Canvas is heavier than paper and not all printers can cope with the heavier weight. The majority of brand-name printers stipulate a maximum GSM of 300, which is standard for photo paper. Not for canvas. Most canvases have a weight of 340 GSM and upward. Professional quality canvas is 350 GSM to 400+ GSM. Try to feed a canvas that thick through a standard printer, it is likely to jam.
The Type of Printer Suited to Canvas
Other than a speciality printer designed for canvas, the two most popular types of home printers are laser and inkjet printers. Laser printers work by using heat to fuse ink onto paper. The heat from these can damage the canvas making it ill-suited to the task.
Inkjet printers work by dropping multiple minuscule ink droplets resulting in a deeper colour depth and better detail than even the most precise laser printer could manage. Laser printers are fine for monochrome prints, but when you want to create depth with colour, an inkjet printer is what you need.
The Right Canvas Material to Use with Inkjet Printers
Not all canvases are made with the same materials. Artist canvas tends to be made with either synthetic fibre, cotton, jute, or linen. Inkjet canvas is made with cotton, polyester, or a hybrid of the two. The print side has a receptive coating to help the ink better blend into the canvas. Print on the wrong side though, the ink won’t take to the canvas as well.
Determining the Right Side of the Canvas to Print On
If you feed inkjet canvas into a printer upside down, the result will not be aesthetically pleasing. Rather than the ink blending into the canvas, it’s more likely to run into the different colour pigments creating a completely different colour spectrum (due to colours bleeding into each other).
Some brands of canvas paper watermark the reverse side to make it easy to know which side is printable. Others leave the guesswork to you. When that’s the case, the smooth side is the printable surface. The rough textured side is untreated.