One of the most common question about vinyl I get is “how do you put Vinyl on a Canvas?” – so I thought I’d test it out and see for myself what method is really best. I did that, and I’m here to dish out all the info!
It was fun to do this as a Live Craft Club segment over on facebook – if you’re not in my Online Craft Club, you’re missing out! Ok, let’s dive into the Best Way to Put Vinyl on Canvas – here are a couple of images in case you need to pin this post for later:
If you love learning from video, you can watch me walk you through each of these tests in my Vinyl Canvas Video.
TESTING Vinyl on Canvas
I tested both Adhesive (or sticky) Vinyl and Heat Transfer (or HTV) Vinyl. I divided the canvas into 4 different sections – I painted two of the sections and left two as-is. So the tests were: Adhesive on Plain Canvas, Adhesive on Painted Canvas, HTV on Plain Canvas, HTV on Painted Canvas. This post may contain affiliate links.
First up, Adhesive Vinyl! When using Adhesive vinyl, you’ll need to use Transfer Tape to move your design from the backer paper onto your canvas – my favorite transfer tape ever is the clear gridded transfer tape.
Adhesive Vinyl on Plain Canvas
This was really hard to do! The vinyl just didn’t want to stick. As I pulled up the transfer tape, the vinyl would just come with it.
I did flip the canvas over and really press and rub from the backside of the canvas. Then I tried again. I had to hold the letters down one-by-one as I peeled the transfer tape. I made it work for those big block letters but gave up on trying the text with thin lines.
VERDICT: DO NOT DO IT THIS WAY
Adhesive Vinyl on Painted Canvas
Next up, same type of vinyl, Adhesive Vinyl, on painted canvas. I painted the canvas with just regular white craft paint, a couple of thin layers. I’ve heard mod podge will do the same thing. The idea is that it will prepare the surface of the canvas so that the vinyl will stick to it.
You guys, this was 10 TIMES BETTER than the plain canvas! I had to be slow and careful, but I was able to remove the transfer tape without too much trouble and was even able to do that with the thin font. If you have Adhesive Vinyl on hand that you’re wanting to use on a canvas, I would say go for it using this method. Painting the canvas made a big difference.
VERDICT: When using Adhesive Vinyl, painting the surface is a must! This is doable!
Heat Transfer Vinyl on Painted Canvas
I had never tried using Heat Transfer Vinyl on a Canvas before – I was missing out!! Since it transfers with heat, the vinyl can melt into the canvas and adhere better. First up though, canvases have some give to them, so you’ll need to put something under it so that you can push down in the middle of the canvas. At first I tried a tshirt as shown below, but later I tried a scrap piece of wood and that worked even better.
Yes, I used my iron. I just pressed firmly for 20-30 seconds. And then voila, the carrier sheet peeled right off, I didn’t have to be extra careful or baby it as I peeled.
This method was 100 TIMES BETTER than the first thing I tried – SO MUCH BETTER! Using Heat Transfer Vinyl will now be my go-to method in putting vinyl on a canvas.
I then wondered if having the canvas painted would make a difference and if HTV would be able to stick to a painted surface, so I tested that. The results were the same as the non-painted surface, paint didn’t make a difference either way.
VERDICT: winner! This was hands-down the best method – using Heat Transfer Vinyl is the best way.
Have you put vinyl on a canvas before?? Which method did you try?
If you love canvas projects, you might like my Create Canvas:
I tried using htv on a canvas that I spray painted silver. I waited one day, then pressed HTV on it. Unfortunately the silver started coming through the HTV. It was very obvious on the red and black htv. Have you done any testing on how to prevent this? I assume the paint is sublimating (just like when you have dye sublimation issues on polyester items)…
Mandy Beyeler says
interesting! I only used craft paint, not spray paint. Maybe give it a try with the craft paint?
Yasix B says
Thank you so much for this info. I received 8 blank canvases for Christmas and I was lost as to how I was going to use them with Vinyl.
It’s great to know that the HTV vinyl is the best option for canvas.
I plan to paint the canvas and then put vinyl on it.
So, curious, did you wait for the paint to dry before using the adhesive vinyl? Then mod podge or spray over it?
Mandy Beyeler says
yep, I waited for the paint to dry before putting vinyl on top of it. And then mod podge over the top of everything.
amy m silva says
do you have to use modge podge? i also have polycrylic at home, can that be used to seal project?
Thanks for doing this project.
I literally was talking this through with my husband last night and woke up to it in my Pnterest recommended lit ! I didn’t have to go hunting it was right there !
I have tried all 4 methods, like you, and had the exact same results. HTV is definitely the way to go! It works great on wood as well!!
Karen Quinn says
I was just wondering about this as I want to make several wall hangings for my daughter’s apartment and I don’t want to do all of them on wood ( a little variety goes a long way!). Yours was 5he first site I looked at and it answered all of my questions except what kind of mod pudge do you use on canvas? On wood? Thanks so much! Great post!
Keisha Cribbs says
Thank you this is so helpful! You e answered all my questions. I’m a beginner and I was starting to feel over whelmed but now I feel like I can do this! Thank you!
Tina O'Connor says
Did you take the canvas off the wood frame to press it on with the HTV? Getting ready to do this. 🙂
Mandy Beyeler says
I just left it on and put a block of wood under it when I pressed it.
Shawna L Ferry says
Can I use clear coat spray paint on my non painted canvas that I used heat transfer on? I made my daughters some wall hangings but want to seal it and have it dry quickly. If I use mod podge won’t it make the black HTV dull and cloudy?
Erica Diamond says
Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for this test and the info. The only other thing that crossed my mind doing (on something to be replicated on many canvases) was making a template and painting. I wasn’t sure if template would stick down well enough so that the paint wouldn’t bleed. Thank you!
I wish I would have researched this before trying adhesive vinyl, it was such a pain in the butt. I am definitely going to try heat transfer next time.