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Why we recommend unprimed canvas.

  • 2 min read

Buying cotton canvas? Try unprimed.

Unprimed canvas is something Art Noise has offered for years both by the yard and in pre-stretched sizes, and it is predominantly recommended over pre-primed options if purchasing cotton duck canvas. This is because we discovered through our practice that many pre-primed options currently available on the market have some compatibility issues with acrylic paint products in terms of adhesion - they are issues that can be easily avoided by priming with a good primer.

What happens.

It appears that pre-primed products, and even some economy gesso products contain low quality ingredients and/or insufficient amount of binders. Some issues we have observed with pre-primed products and some economy gesso products include:

- Adhesion issues with acrylics.

- Crumbling of the gesso away from the canvas.

- Hyrdo-phobic tendencies - some pre-primed canvas resists acrylics.

- Grey tint as opposed to bright white.

Why does this happen.

We have observed a decline in the quality of gesso products currently in the market, whether it be a lack of titanium white pigment in the formulation of the gesso, or a cheaper base used as an alternative to expensive acrylic polymer. The bottom line is that cost is the biggest factor for producing consumer products and using less expensive, lower quality raw materials is the easiest way to maintain comfortable retail prices. All of the above listed issues could be avoided and are caused by the following:

- Over-saturation of solids in gesso formulation.

- Low concentration of binder to water.

- Low concentration of titanium white pigment.

What should you do?

Always prime canvas yourself, if you have purchased a pre-primed canvas, it would be good practice to add at least one layer of your own acrylic gesso. Use a good quality acrylic gesso if possible, avoid primers designed for walls as typically these are lower quality. When buying acrylic gesso, ensure that it is a 100% acrylic polymer emulsion product, and if purchasing a white gesso, make sure that it contains titanium white pigment in its formulation.