How to print a photo on canvas at home: your step-by-step guide

Perhaps it’s that one anniversary you want to remember for the rest of your days. Or maybe a fancy painting that you just couldn’t pass up. Printing that photo on canvas and putting it up…

How to print a photo on canvas at home: your step-by-step guideHow to print a photo on canvas at home: your step-by-step guide
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Perhaps it’s that one anniversary you want to remember for the rest of your days. Or maybe a fancy painting that you just couldn’t pass up. Printing that photo on canvas and putting it up for display can be a great decision.

Ideally, this is often done by professionals in a studio somewhere. However, this multi-billion dollar business, slated to grow 5.4% between 2023 and 2030, isn’t the preserve of the pros. You can still take and print a photo right in your backyard and get it right. 

Wondering how? This is your guide to DIY photo canvas printing right at home.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Gather Your Tools
Gather Your Tools

To get this process right, you’ve got to use the right tools. Here’s what you’ll typically need:

The Canvas

Think about how you’ll showcase your creation. An 8×10 inch canvas is perfect for a bedside table or a gallery wall grouping. Looking for a statement piece? Bigger is bolder. Think along the lines of 16×20 inches or larger. Sure, canvas size matters, but the material also plays quite an important role. Here’s how to choose the best one:

Classic Cotton

This is the most popular choice for a reason. Cotton canvas prints offer a timeless, slightly textured look that goes well with any style.

Linen Canvas

Explore linen canvas prints for a touch of the rustic. Their unique texture complements vintage or farmhouse photos beautifully.

Polyester Canvas

For busy areas like kitchens or kids’ rooms, go for polyester canvas prints. They’re water-resistant and easier to clean, making them perfect for those splash-prone spots.

With different materials to choose from, you can create stunning photo canvas prints that fit your style and space.

But in case you want to put down your DIYer hat to ensure premium-quality results, you can always count on photo canvas prints experts. Their specially developed canvas fabric allows for superb photo reproduction.

High-Resolution Photo

Megapixels (MP) determine how crisp your photo will look when printed. Aim for photos with at least 300MP. Not sure where to find such? Most modern smartphones take high-resolution photos that work perfectly for canvas printing.

For perspective, the average medium-quality photo size is around 500 KB. Most 4K resolution photos can afford between seven and 12 megabytes, while a typical smartphone takes about three megabytes. 

If you’re using an older phone or camera, check your photo’s properties on your computer. Here’s a helpful tip: high megapixel count usually translates to larger file sizes, so make sure you have enough storage space.

Step 2: Preparing the Photo

Preparing the Photo
Preparing the Photo

Once you’ve taken that picture you love, crop it to ensure it perfectly fits the canvas. If it’s a family portrait, you might want to crop in on everyone’s smiling faces for a more intimate feel on a smaller canvas.

Conversely, for a landscape photo on a larger canvas, you might want to crop out some foreground elements to emphasize the vastness of the scenery.

Also, double-check to ensure your photo doesn’t have any blurring, red-eye, or unwanted edits. Use photo editing software to adjust brightness, contrast, and color balance if needed. A high-quality image will translate to a high-quality canvas print.

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Step 3: Printing or Mod Podge?

You’ve got two exciting options for bringing your canvas to life: printing and the Mod Podge method.


If you have a printer that supports canvas material, this might be the faster option. Just make sure your printer settings are optimized for high-quality canvas printing. Many printers offer specific settings for this purpose.

While you’re at it, make sure you’re not printing using regular printer ink. It might smudge on canvas. Look for pigment-based inks specifically designed for canvas printing.

Also, not all printers can handle the thickness of canvas. Check your printer’s manual for compatibility before investing in a particular canvas type.

Mod Podge 

The Mod Podge method is a DIY way to create canvas art by adhering a photo directly onto a canvas using Mod Podge (a glue and sealant) instead of printing the photo on the canvas itself. This method is perfect if you don’t have a canvas-compatible printer or simply enjoy the DIY process.

Step 4: Let Your Print Dry Completely

Let Your Print Dry Completely
Let Your Print Dry Completely

Freshly printed canvas ink can smudge, so allow ample drying time. Most printer manuals will specify drying times, but generally, plan on a few hours or overnight. Once dry, gently examine the canvas for any streaks, smudging, or imperfections. 

While not always necessary, applying a coat of archival-quality spray sealant can further protect your canvas print from dust, fading, and moisture. This is especially helpful in high-traffic areas or rooms with bright sunlight.

Step 5: Hanging

Many canvas prints come with pre-drilled holes for easy hanging. But before you hang them, make sure you’ve ticked the dos and don’ts boxes.

Do these:

  • Before hammering nails or screws into your wall, use a level to ensure your canvas hangs straight. Measure the distance between the hanging hardware on the back of the canvas and mark corresponding spots on the wall.
  • For lighter canvases, sawtooth hangers might suffice. Heavier canvases or those in high-traffic areas might benefit from sturdier D-rings and screws. 
  • If your walls are made of drywall, consider using wall anchors for additional support. These screw into the wall first, creating a stronger hold for the hanging hardware.

Pro tip: If you’re creating a gallery wall with multiple canvas prints, play around with different layouts and spacings on the floor before transferring them to the wall. This helps visualize the final look.


  • Hang in direct sunlight. Over time, sunlight can fade the colors of your canvas print. Opt for a location with indirect light or filtered sunlight.
  • Hang above furniture. Avoid hanging your canvas directly above furniture like a couch or bed. Leave enough space to prevent bumping or damage.
  • Hang in humid environments. Studies show that canvas prints and paintings thrive in places with relative humidity levels between 45 – 55 %. The maximum fluctuations should be between 4 °C and 5 % in any 24-hour period.

That said, bathrooms or laundry rooms might be too humid for canvas prints.

Why Should You Consider Printing a Photo on Canvas at Home?

Why Should You Consider Printing a Photo on Canvas at Home
Why Should You Consider Printing a Photo on Canvas at Home

When you choose to print a photo on canvas at home, you get to:

Express Yourself

Unlike limited studio options, you have complete creative control over the size, material (cotton, linen, polyester), and photo selection.

Save Money

Professional canvas printing can be expensive. Printing at home allows you to control the budget and choose affordable canvas materials.

The Personal Touch

There’s something special about creating your own wall art. It adds a personal touch to your home decor. Also, as your tastes or photo collection evolves, simply swap out the printed canvas for a fresh look.

Wrapping up

Printing a photo on canvas at home is something that can take a bit of time and expertise to pull off. However, if you’ve got the right tools for the job, why not consider it? This guide has shared some great tips to put into practice. Try them today. The results may just knock you off your feet.

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Martin Pitonak

Martin Pitonak is a creative professional and entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in the creative industry. His passion for helping businesses in all areas of visual marketing sets him apart in a variety…