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by Bart Arondson

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I want to put photographic canvas prints on stretcher frames in my bathroom, how bad of an idea is this? Obviously it depends on how wet my bathroom is, but I would call it fairly typical, and it does have a fan that pulls air out and two doors. The canvas prints are typical of what you could get from mpix, prodpi, whcc, or canvas on demand.

My main question is around bonded canvas prints and durability.

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6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Most canvas prints use inks similar to (or actually are) big name inkjet inks like Epson and Canon. Such inks are susceptible to moisture and gaseous toxins and the like. Its kind of tough to generalize the print so much...all of the print houses you've listed use different kinds of canvas and different kinds of inks, and none of them really clearly specify what those inks are or how long they will last (a couple seem to indicate 100+ years, but don't specify under what conditions you might get such a lifetime.)

While you may not notice any change in the short term (i.e. a few years), hanging any canvas print that is printed with anything outside of modern Giclee inks (which are incredibly durable and excellent for canvas) will most likely not have a particularly long lifetime...I would say at most a couple decades, and after a number of years you'll likely start to see some fading or color shift. Only under archival conditions, wherein humidity and air quality and light are all controlled within a specific range, can you hope to achieve 100-200 year longevity.

You might also want to consider a clear protective spray. There are a variety of them available, and I am not sure if some are better suited to canvas prints or not. Usually you just need to evenly spray on a coat of this stuff once a print has fully cured (usually a full day, so if you send it off to a lab it should be cured by the time it gets to you). The spray should give your canvas prints much greater durability in a bathroom environment. It should protect from direct water exposure (splashing from sink or shower), and help protect a bit longer from fading.

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Thank you for your insight. I would be plenty happy with 5 years even! Just hoping for that. –  dpollitt Oct 21 '11 at 12:08
    
I think my main shortcoming is that I don't understand the difference between prints I make at home as compared to canvas prints. From your answer I gather that it may have a similar lifetime, but I would be best talking to my print shop. I didn't specify which print shop because I have canvases from all of them, and I haven't decided which one I may put in the bathroom :) –  dpollitt Oct 21 '11 at 13:17
    
@dpollitt: Most print shops these days use some form of pigment based inkjet printing. They are all fairly similar, however some pigment inks are better than others. Some have larger gamut, some have better longevity, some work better on canvas specifically (like Giclee). The type of canvas also plays a role...some are purely natural, while others are coated to support better inkjet printing. These factors all kind of lend a hand to longevity. Regardless, though, I would expect any one of yours to get a decent lifetime well beyond just 5 years. –  jrista Oct 22 '11 at 17:02
    
Added an edit about protective print spray that might help. –  jrista Oct 22 '11 at 17:06

I work for http://www.canvaspop.com I can't speak for the other companies but I believe they use a spray varnish and I'm not sure how spray varnish holds up. We use a matte laminate (by Drytac) which would completely hold up in a bathroom for a long time. Our laminate seals the art piece from moisture making it waterproof. We've tested it in such extreme cases. My biggest concern would be around the wood frame warping. To prevent that I would go with at least a 1.5" stretcher (depth). Thicker frames are less likely to warp in extreme humidity. Most top quality photo canvas printing companies offer this option. Hope this helps!

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Thanks for the response, much appreciated! –  dpollitt Oct 25 '11 at 23:41

If your bathroom is at all similar to mine I wouldn't expect anything that is not water sealed to last.

However, your best option is to ask the printing company - they should know exactly what kind of canvas and ink they use and (if they're any good) how durable those materials are in diffrent conditions - they may even have special options for wet conditions.

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I will ask my printer, that is a good suggestion. –  dpollitt Oct 21 '11 at 12:09

I have a canvas print from mpix that has held up quite well for a year. While, it's not in a bathroom, it is in a room that doesn't get much AC during the hot, humid Washington DC Summers.

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One year is a very short lifespan. I would not be happy with that at all, it should last a minimum of 100! –  Sarzy22 Mar 14 '13 at 6:01

I know some companies use a heat set laminate, which protects them from moisture. One I have used and very happy with the results are Canvas This (www.canvasthis.com.au), who also deliver Australia wide!They have outstanding service, provide advise on resolution & a free quality assessment, have calibrated monitors to ensure accurate colour results and offer a lifetime and 100% customer satisfaction guarantee! Good Luck!

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Are you affiliated with canvasthis? –  MikeW Mar 14 '13 at 8:23

For the long term durability of your canvas photo prints it is very necessary to protect your photos from humidity and moisture. Earlier varnishes were used to protect canvas prints but with the use of modern technologies this method becomes inefficient.

Today’s mostly canvas prints are done in inkjet prints and these inkjet prints are more prone to moisture. So for the long lasting of your pictures appropriate treatment of canvas prints is required most of the time which depends upon the type of material used in printing.

Also there are several products available in the market which will protect your photos on canvas from fading and will make your canvas water proof.

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protected by MikeW Mar 14 '13 at 8:23

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