What’s the difference between canvas and poster photo prints?

What’s the difference between canvas and poster photo prints? We weigh up the pros and cons of these two wall decoration formats!

If you’re looking to buy some brand-new wall art, you might be torn between two classic print foundations: canvas or poster.

The difference between canvas prints and posters is simple enough: With canvas prints your photo is printed on canvas fabric, but with posters your photo is usually printed on paper. Meanwhile a canvas print is wrapped on a wooden stretcher frame, but a poster is usually a single layer of paper.

But which is better? Even as proud manufacturers of canvas prints, we recognise that both mediums have their advantages. And we think it’s time for them to go head to head!

We’ll compare the two formats according to three important criteria and decide which format is the winner in each case:

  • Aesthetics

  • Durability

  • Price

Let the best format win!


Round One: Aesthetics


Posters were designed for immediate impact. They were first used for public announcements and advertising. Even in the format’s “Golden Age” at the turn of the 20th century, when poster design came to be seen as an art form, the emphasis was still on convenience and simplicity rather than premium performance.

The Difference Between Canvas and Poster Prints: Which Should You Choose? Monochromatic poster print with motivational text.

Most of today’s photo print posters follow the same tradition – a “sell ‘em cheap” business model means they’re produced as quickly as possible, and the quality can suffer. But the top end of the market gets impressive results for print definition.

If there’s one aspect of print quality where posters let themselves down, it’s colour intensity. The thin paper doesn’t allow for the ink saturation that premium photo reproduction demands – so the colours tend to lack depth and glow.


Canvas was used for oil painting as early as the 14th century. And it’s kept its status as a premium foundation for wall art, being used around the world in contemporary photo galleries. With its organic, tactile appeal, canvas lets artworks breathe, allowing for a striking warmth and immediacy.

The Difference Between Canvas and Poster Prints: Which Should You Choose? Two canvas prints displayed next to each other.

Canvas has always been prized for its excellent colour absorption. The fabric material can soak up a lot more ink than the wood fibres of a poster – and that’s why canvas photo prints achieve truly eye-popping colour saturation.

And canvas is by definition a matte format – the richly textured fabric surface prevents glare, meaning that the crisp definition of your photo print can be enjoyed from any angle, and the colours will appear just as rich as they did in the original image.

Judges’ Decision: Canvas

Both formats get fantastic results when it comes to sharp definition, but their exceptional colour performance means that canvas prints carry the day here.


Round Two: Durability


Posters lack the colour saturation of canvas prints. So even if your poster has rich, punchy colours when it’s new, you can expect those colours to degrade with time – even if your poster isn’t exposed to sunlight.

The Difference Between Canvas and Poster Prints: Which Should You Choose? Wall covered with posters of different sizes.

The inks used for the great majority of posters being printed today lack any strong resistance to UV radiation. If your print isn’t shielded from the glare of the sun, fading and yellowing are sure to set in before too long.

And the truth is, not every poster even lasts long enough for its colours to fade. However well produced, a poster remains essentially a sheet of paper – and a format this flimsy will be prone to curling, tearing and crumpling.


Our photo reproductions are printed using HP Latex Inks, developed by HP to have as much chemical stability as solvent-based inks. And our canvas is specially designed for use with HP Latex printing. Our vibrant colours should last for at least 75 years before they start to fade.

The Difference Between Canvas and Poster Prints: Which Should You Choose? Large size canvas print with featuring photo of dog.

The physical resilience of the material itself is superb. Canvas has always been prized for its tough but supple qualities, and My-Picture.co.uk production techniques remain essentially the same as those used over centuries – and we also have the benefit of state-of-the-art technologies.

And of course, each of our canvas prints is wrapped on a real wood stretcher frame, giving your print a robust physical presence that can stand up to all but the heaviest knocks and shocks.

Judges’ Decision: Canvas

There could only be one winner here. Their long-lasting inks, material resilience and robust build put canvas prints in a different league.


Round Three: Price


With their thin paper foundation, posters can be produced and distributed at rock-bottom prices, so (even allowing for the usual huge mark-up) you should be able to find a decent-quality poster for a very accessible price.

The Difference Between Canvas and Poster Prints: Which Should You Choose? Poster with motivational text.

However, because of the durability issues mentioned above, you may well find that your poster has faded – or actually disintegrated – before it’s served its purpose. If you end up having to pay for a print twice over (or more), it might not seem such a bargain after all.

The problem of everyday wear and tear can be solved by having your poster framed and covered with glass. This should offer some protection against UV-induced fading too. But this precaution certainly won’t come cheap – and could make your poster a false economy.


At My-Picture.co.uk we offer a customised service – you upload your own photo and we reproduce it on archival-grade canvas. The printed canvas is then stretched by hand over a real spruce wood frame (made with timber from FSC-approved forests).

The Difference Between Canvas and Poster Prints: Which Should You Choose? Photo canvas print featuring Golden Gate Bridge.

But a personalised service doesn’t have to come at a premium. Relying on streamlined production and economies of scale, we’ve become standard-bearers for a whole new sector of industry: mass customisation.

And we sell our canvas at prices which would have been unthinkable for unique items not too long ago. Take a look at our canvas product page and see for yourself. You don’t even need to shop around – because all our products come with a UK best-price guarantee.

Judges’ Decision: Dead Heat

Yes, posters are very cheap. But a canvas print should stay in peak condition for at least 75 years – so arguably it’s canvas that’s the real bargain in the long run!


Last Word

The Difference Between Canvas and Poster Prints: Which Should You Choose? Wall featuring multiple canvas and poster prints.

If you’re buying printed wall decor to make a quick and simple statement – perhaps decorating student digs or a nightclub – then the throwaway convenience of posters could be just what you’re looking for.

But we recommend that first you compare online prices for posters and canvas. You might be surprised how narrow the gap really is, and decide that the extra resilience, presence and sheer visual pop of canvas prints justifies the modest extra cost.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a wall-decor centrepiece for your home and you want to make a real investment in long-lasting craftsmanship, there can only be one choice. Because canvas prints are designed to last not months, not years, but generations.