Are Canvas Prints Okay in Bathrooms?


Canvas print in bathroom

You’ve decorated the living room, your bedroom, and the foyer. The one-room that’s left untouched is the bathroom. You’re thinking of adding a canvas print in there, but you know the bathroom is one of the most humid spaces in the whole house. Are canvas prints okay somewhere so warm?

Yes, you can put most canvas prints in the bathroom, except for special and original canvases. Due to the coating canvas prints have, moisture won’t seep into the material and destroy the print.

If you’re still feeling a bit uncertain about hanging a canvas print in your bathroom, we recommend you keep reading. In this article, we’ll tell you about all about canvas and how it can stand up to humidity. We’ll even provide some tips for being extra safe with your canvas artwork when hanging it in the bathroom. You won’t want to miss it!  

What Is a Canvas Print?

First, let’s talk a little more about canvas prints, including what they are and how they’re made. When you order a canvas print from a printing company, you’re asking that you get a photo or artwork printed onto the material.

The canvas itself is a type of fabric that’s woven. While hemp was once the material of choice for canvas, these days, it’s linen or cotton. Sometimes polyester canvas is used as well. Depending on the canvas material, the color may be exactly as depicted in the original image or slightly different.

The printing company, upon receiving your image, uses an inkjet printer to transfer the image to the canvas. The canvas can then be wrapped around a frame, stretching to fit into place. This doesn’t stretch the image, though. When this printing method is used, it’s known as gallery wrapping.

A special frame for canvas prints has a stretcher bar that fits everything into place. Some canvas prints come with frames while others do not. When you hang a canvas print on the wall, its raised sides with the image wrapped over each of them gives the art a 3D feel, like it’s popping right out of the wall. These prints can certainly decorate any room then, and yes, that includes the bathroom.  

Check out a canvas print being made here on YouTube:

How Do Canvas Prints Resist Bathroom Humidity?

When you step out of a warm shower and your bathroom is foggy, that’s humidity. Air vents in the bathroom will dispel the humidity eventually, but it takes a few minutes.

Mold and mildew happen to love humid environments. These are both fungi, and you can tell them apart by the trails of grossness they leave behind. When your bathroom or other rooms in your home get moldy, the color is either black or green. Mold can feel slimy to the touch or fuzzy. With mildew, it has a powder-like texture, but it can be fuzzy as well. Unlike mold, mildew is either yellow or gray.

How does a canvas print avoid getting mildewy or moldy? The printing company will finish the canvas with a protective spray, such an acrylic. It will then arrive at your doorstep able to be hung in warmer rooms without incident. Should you decide to put your canvas print in any other, less humid room, that’s more than okay, too.

Another way that printing companies can protect your canvas print is to use giclee inks. Giclee printing has existed since 1991, when Jack Duganne, a printmaker, began using this printing method for fine art digital prints. It’s inspired by gicleur, a French word that means nozzle or jet.

With giclée printing, your artwork has archival substrates, archival inks, and dyes that won’t fade. Most of today’s common printers can print giclée artwork, such as HP, Epson, Canon, and more. The printer will include the color process CMYK, which includes black, yellow, magenta, and cyan. Other color cartridges may be used as well, such as if the customer wants artwork in black and white or even more colors.

In fact, giclée printing can add hues like green, orange, light gray, light cyan, and light magenta, especially with some Epson printers. This doesn’t exclude the black, yellow, magenta, or cyan, but rather, adds to it. The depth of color improves accuracy, allows gradient transitions to look more natural, and expands the color gamut, which refers to a color subset.

Giclée printing is not exclusive to canvas prints, but can also be used on textured vinyl, watercolor paper, and matte photo paper. Even if a canvas was pre-treated with a protective spray, giclée printing is possible.

If you want to see giclée printing in action, take a look at this video:

https://youtu.be/C9qPH7YHNr4

Okay, so now that we’ve discussed it enough, how does giclée printing prevent a bathroom canvas print from succumbing to mold and mildew? The high quality and durability of the ink last longer than other inks. Those ink types won’t show the effects of humidity for a couple of years, but it will happen eventually. Then you’ll see shifting colors and even color fading. For giclée, it takes much longer for any degradation in quality.

What Can Humidity Do to Other Prints?

Let’s say you have a print that’s not made of canvas and you decided to hang it in the bathroom anyway. What would happen? Well, if it didn’t have any kind of glass covering and sat exposed, the picture’s fate wouldn’t be wonderful.

Mildew and mold love wood-based and paper-based goods, such as your non-canvas artwork. They’ll begin growing there, quickly ruining the print. It’s not like you can use a mildew-removing product on the artwork, as that will destroy it. By trying to scrub or scratch the mold and mildew away, you also wreck your art.

You’ll have no choice but to replace your piece, so hopefully, it’s nothing too rare.

As if mildew and mold weren’t bad enough, it gets worse. You also have to worry about sulfur dioxide. This gas isn’t one you can see, but it does tend to have quite a distinguishable odor. When warm air and sulfur dioxide combine, you get sulphuric acid. If the mold and mildew didn’t get to your art, then the sulphuric acid certainly will. The discoloration of your printed piece will be heartbreaking.

Tips and Tactics for Keeping Canvas Prints Safe and Preserved in a Bathroom

If you’re one of those people who believes you can never be too safe, then these tips are for you. The following methods can preserve your canvas-printed artwork even longer in your bathroom.

Never Hang an Untreated Canvas Print in the Bathroom

If your artwork didn’t already come varnished with a protective spray, then you’re going to want to do the job yourself. This spray is part of what resists the impacts of moisture, including mold, mildew, and sulphuric acid. While it’s true mold and mildew like wood and paper best, the bacteria thrive in whatever environment is warmest. That’s your bathroom, including the canvas print that’s sitting exposed in this warm space.

If you’re not sure if the printing company already took care of treating the canvas, then call and ask or shoot them an email.

Keep the Print as Far from Humidity Sources as You Can

If you have a particularly large bathroom, then you’re going to want to be strategic with where you hang your canvas print. The shower or tub is what generates most of the humidity in your bathroom, so keep the artwork as far from the shower as you’re able.

This may not be something that’s possible in smaller bathrooms, and we realize as much. The other tips in this section do apply no matter how big your bathroom is.

Hang the Print So There’s Space Between the Wall and the Canvas

The way you position your canvas print on the wall matters. You want to ensure that the back of the print never directly touches the wall. This may take some finagling to get the print hung just right, but this gap is very important.

By creating some extra space behind the canvas print, now warm air can travel past the wall without getting stuck around the print. This can prevent mildew and mold from developing since the artwork never retains as much warm air.

Get a Glass Frame for the Canvas Print That Creates a Full Seal

Part of the appeal of a canvas frame is seeing it from all sides, that’s true. However, in the bathroom at least, it might be worthwhile to consider using a glass frame for your art. This layer of glass protects your canvas print even further.

For best results, you want a frame that’s all-encompassing. This way, it can make a seal around the entire print, ensuring warm air can’t get in.

Never Hang Irreplaceable Artwork

At the end of the day, all the methods in this article are only slowing down the degradation process, which will happen with time if your art is exposed to enough humidity. For that reason, if you have a canvas print that means a lot to you or one you could not easily replace, then we don’t recommend putting it in your bathroom. Any other room that doesn’t contend with nearly as much humidity is the better option.

Conclusion

Canvas prints can withstand the humidity in a bathroom, but they must be treated with a protective finish first. It’s also best if your art was printed using giclée ink, which may retain its look in a humid space longer than other types of ink.

Humidity can do terrible things to art, so you might consider a frame for your canvas print. Also, never hang a one-of-a-kind print in the bathroom, just to be on the safe side. Best of luck!

Henrik Bruhn

Owner of a danish Print On Demand production facility and writes about the craft, techniques, and trends in the business

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