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The Best Painting Canvas

Last updated on November 8, 2019

We looked at the top 11 Painting Canvases and dug through the reviews from 12 of the most popular review sites including Education 4 Sustainability, No Place Called Home, artdragon86, Createlet, Ode Magazine, Home Esthetics and more. The result is a ranking of the best Painting Canvases.

Best Painting Canvas

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Our Picks For The Top Painting Canvases

Show Contents
Our Take
  Best Overall


Multi-Pack Painting Canvas Panels

Overall Take

Canvas Panels in Many SizesThe Arteza Multi-Pack Painting Canvas Panels set is a high-quality product at a great value.

  Also Great

Academy Art Supply

8x10 Stretched Canvas

Overall Take

Primed Stretched CanvasesThe Academy Art Supply 8x10 Stretched Canvas set is a good kit for supplying art students with a primed canvas.

  Best Value


Pre Stretched Canvas

Overall Take

Stretched Canvas 10-packThe PHOENIX Pre Stretched Canvas is a great value for the number of canvases you get.

  Also Consider


Canvas Panels

Overall Take

Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, Simplemost analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the painting canvases available to purchase.

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings


Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources.


User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Amazon (AE) and 3 others.

The Best Overall

Arteza Multi-Pack Painting Canvas Panels

Our Expert Score
0 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
175 user reviews
Our Take

The Arteza Multi-Pack Painting Canvas Panels set comes with multiple panels in four of the most common sizes. The smaller panels can fit into a plein air painting kit easily for outdoor painting, while the larger panels are a great size for an evening painting session.

The Best Bang For Your Buck

PHOENIX Pre Stretched Canvas

Expert Summarized Score
0 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
251 user reviews
Our Take

The PHOENIX Pre Stretched Canvas set comes with ten canvases at a great value. This set is great for hosting painting parties where you want to have a small enough canvas to finish in one night.

Our Expert Consultant

Amy Markham   
Artist and art educator

Artist and educator Amy Markham is the creator of Starling, a podcast dedicated to helping artists develop depth in their creative practice. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Amy has been an art educator since 2001. Today, she teaches middle school art at a school outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Her personal artwork explores myth-making and symbolic understandings. Through her brand, Starling Creative Living, she leads others to explore art production as a method for enriching their life experience.

Our Painting Canvas Buying Guide

You’ve figured out what type of paint to try and the necessary brushes to go with it, now you’re narrowing down the last few items you need to begin your career as an aspiring painter and you realize there are a lot of canvases to choose from. The canvas you paint on can have a dramatic effect on the overall look and feel of your art, so you want to be sure to understand the differences in how the canvas works with your paints and technique.

Painting canvases can be broken down into roughly three categories. There is a canvas that is stretched over a frame that is generally made from wood. This canvas will have edges that can also be painted or not painted, depending on the artist’s choice. Stretched canvases are good for most types of paints due to their construction. A majority of the fabric is free from obstruction, as you can see in the Arteza 16×20 Blank Canvas, which only has small portions of the edge of the canvas touching the wooden frame directly. This construction can be great for watercolors, as a solid panel will absorb the water and potentially warp as it dries. A piece of paper from an artist’s sketchbook will warp even worse as it curls up due to the moisture of the watercolors.

These stretched blank canvases are lightweight and come in almost any size you could want. They are commonly purchased in their completed form, but there are plenty of resourceful artists out there who stretch their own canvases, according to Amy Markham, artist, art teacher and the creator of Starling, a podcast dedicated to helping artists develop depth in their creative practice.

“If you are buying [canvas] in rolls you are probably an experienced artist who likes to make your own frames or mount the canvas to panels yourself,” says Markham.

Another popular canvas style is panel canvases. Panel canvases are formed around a rigid piece of wood or industrial paneling that creates a solid backing for the canvas itself. The result is a canvas that is maybe a quarter of an inch thick, which is much less space-consuming than stretched canvases. Panel canvases are easier to store before use due to their thin stature. For example, a set of 28 panels like in the Arteza Multi-Pack Painting Canvas Panels set will consume the same amount of space as maybe four or five stretched canvas panels. This space-saving does come at a small cost, though, as they are constructed in a way that makes their longevity questionable.

“If you are choosing a panel canvas, know that these are often less archival than a stretched canvas. This is due to the adhesive used to attach the canvas to whatever surface, the canvas is mounted to,” Markham said. “Whether the backing is wood, foam board or cardboard, canvas panels can break down over time. However, some artists will prefer the rigidity of a panel over the of give or bounce of a stretched canvas and there are high-end panels available that use the most archival adhesives and methods available.”

The last of the popular canvases is not really a canvas, but rather a piece of thick paper as found in many artist sketchbooks. These are typically bound in a book by hefty metal rings and can be a great product to begin working with.

“Using a spiral-bound canvas sketchbook is great for students and can be mounted after the work is complete,” says Markam.

An added benefit of the sketchbook is that each page comes at a fairly low cost, so repetitious practice sessions won’t be too much of a drain on your art-supply budget. When looking at sketchbooks, the thickness of the paper is very important. Whether you plan to work with acrylics, oils or watercolors, you should read the ratings that are posted on the front of each sketchbook. A thin page will not stand up to watercolor paints and might even warp with heavy applications of acrylics, so save yourself the future headache and make sure you purchase the appropriate page for your paint.

Canvases and panels often come primed and ready-to-use. A set of canvases like the Academy Art Supply 8×10 Stretched Canvas is great for a beginner who wants to get to the fun part of the painting and not wait for a primer coat to dry first. If you do find canvases that are not primed already, you will want to apply a proper primer to them or they will soak up your paints in a way that can easily ruin your attempt at art.

The last major decision you might consider before purchasing any canvases is how big they should be. It’s quicker and often easier to paint on a small canvas since you can start and finish an entire painting in one session. A larger canvas will usually take more time and turn into a bigger project that could take a few different sessions to get it completed. Luckily there are products like PHOENIX Pre Stretched Canvas that offers more than a dozen sizing options for standard stretched canvases, so you can be sure to find the appropriate size for your project.

Simplemost Fun Fact

Cotton is the most common material used in canvases today, but this is a relatively modern development.

“Classically, hemp and linen were used to make canvases for paintings,” says Markham. “And while there are artists that use these materials today, most of the canvases you will find at your local art supply store will be cotton.”

Cotton is strong and economical, so it makes sense that we would use this over the more expensive and less durable predecessors. Think of all the cotton-based things that you could paint!

The Painting Canvas Tips and Advice

  • Wooden shims are commonly included in sets of stretched canvases. These shims actually have a brilliant application in that they can be driven into the corners of the wooden frame to stretch a canvas.

“Some stretched canvases will come with small wood shims, called canvas keys, and many people do not know what these are for,” says Markham. “They are meant to be placed in the corners of the frame into slots if there is any sagging in the canvas or to tighten up the frame.”

  • If you’re looking to dabble in the trend of plein air painting, panel canvases are the perfect product to start with. They are thin enough to slide into your plein air kit without taking up all the interior space and they are lightweight and firm so handling them is a breeze when you’re outdoors soaking in nature’s beauty while loading up that canvas with paint.
  • Use a canvas that is already primed and you can save yourself the entire step of having to prime your new canvas before painting it. If you are hosting a painting party, the last thing you want is for all your guests to wait on standby because the canvases weren’t primed when they got there.