Stretched or unstretched Canvas Prints?

We offer a wide variety of art media options, for more info on all the options visit this page.

What is a Rolled / Unstretched Canvas?

what is a rolled canvas print

One of the biggest questions we get asked is what is the difference between Stretched and Unstretched/Rolled canvases. In a nutshell, the definition between the two is a stretched canvas print is a canvas print that has been stretched over a kiln-dried timber frame and is delivered ready to hang straight on the wall. An unstretched or rolled canvas is just the printed canvas without the stretcher bars, customers that buy the rolled canvas normally either want to make their own frame or ship their art overseas.

We highly recommend the Stretched Canvas Print option as your artwork arrives ready to hang straight on the wall, no fuss, no extra work, just a beautifully presented artwork that has all the fittings and can be hung on the wall immediately. However, we do have an offer to our customers I’m unstretched canvas printing as an option as we appreciate some people prefer to stretch their own artwork or travel with the art.

Why would you choose a Rolled Canvas Print instead?

  • If you are planning on transporting the art overseas or interstate
  • It costs less than regular canvas (arguably), it’s cheaper to have it done by us than a local framer
  • By taking the rolled canvas to a local framer you can easily have it stretched yourself
  • Fear of damage that might occur during shipping (we cover any damages by couriers but if you don’t want to tackle the risk then its an option
  • People occasionally prefer a DIY approach – therefore, they want to stretch it themselves, some customers have stitched hem at the top of the art and run poles thought the art to drape them etc

Please note that a rolled canvases is not designed to be used for traditional framed prints, they are designed to be stretched over a wooden frame, a rolled canvas print will usually have a mirrored bleed / gallery wrap. ie the sides of the canvas will have a printed image on it, that would normally be wrapped around the sides of the canvas print.

What is Stretched Canvas

The printed canvas is carefully stretched over a preassembled timber frame, it is stretched taught by professionals so that it will not be loose either now, or in the foreseeable future. The tautness of a canvas is one of the primary tell-tales between a well-made canvas and one made for example in China.

Because stretcher bars are the “unseen” part of the canvas, they’re often not discussed. There is no point having a really nice canvas if it’s mounted on a thin badly made wooden frame.

Our stretcher bars are:32mm in profile
Kiln-dried making our stretched canvas prints more sturdy and even less likely to warp over time
Bevelled edges to prevent cracking
Bevelled contour to prevent ‘ghosting’ – an impression of the canvas touching the stretcher bar
The first thing to consider is whether or not it’s been kiln dried. Wood is a porous material, that is, it absorbs water. When it absorbs water, the wood expands and as it dries it shrinks. All this expanding and shrinking causes the wood to warp over time, much like the pages of a book that gets wet – they irreparably ripple. Kiln-dried wood is protected from warping and this means you don’t have a canvas unevenly sitting on your wall.

The next thing to consider is the quality of the wood used. Low-quality wood is likely to crack over time or break if the canvas is dropped.

Blue Horizon Prints uses wood that does not leach tannins (tannic acid). Then there’s the shape of the bars themselves. “Square” bars rest against the back of the canvas and over time create a visible impression – not good! To prevent this we use bevelled stretcher bars, which are slightly cutaway on the side that faces the canvas so that the only contact point on the facing side is on the very very edge – and NOT the entire width of the stretcher bar. This edge is also rounded off so the canvas doesn’t stretch over a sharp, 90 degree angled frame edge.
We use Sustainable Plantation New Zealand Pine Kiln Dried with a routed lip, bought from a major Australian picture framing supplier, this is then glued and underpinned in house.

Then there’s the physical depth (profile) of the stretcher bar. A stretcher bar that is very small will not sit out from the wall, losing the depth that a canvas print or painting would normally have. We use 3.2cm thick stretcher bars, what we think is the optimal depth for canvas printing.

Top Tip: When ordering a stretched canvas print always question the thickness of the stretcher bars.

rolled canvas print tools

Stretched canvas print: 100% archival quality, cotton canvas, stretched over a thick 35mm kiln dried timber frame. Delivered ready to hang straight on the wall, including picture wire and felt protective bumpers on the back. This is the best option if you want to receive a finished piece of art.

Unstretched canvas print: Unstretched canvas otherwise known as a rolled canvas is without the wooden stretcher bars, delivered rolled in a tube. It is just the canvas itself, customers often buy unstretched canvas for overseas delivery or if they want to get the canvas framed themselves.

Framed Print: Your photo is printed on premium grade, archival rag paper then framed in either a black, white or mahogany frame. Lastly, we cover the canvas frame with a Perspex cover (it looks and feels the same as glass but adds a lot of durabilities.) See this page for all the details about our Framed Prints, Paper Prints and Floater Frames.

Rolled Canvas vs Stretched

The Pros of a Stretched Canvas Print
  • Delivered ready to hang on the wall
  • Cutting-edge technologies provide a near-perfect print work
  • The handcrafted spruce wood framework makes the canvas stay intact for decades
  • The guarantee of a professionally stretched canvas with perfect tension
  • An overall more affordable option as its cheaper to stretch then art with us than locally
  • Delivery with professional fittings, picture wire and buffers to protect the artwork

The Pros of Rolled Canvas

  • Transportable: Many customers select this option if the artwork is a gift and being taken overseas
  • The print quality that in no way differs from that of a framed canvas
  • A chance to try your hand at wall decor crafting if you want creatively hang the art yourself
  • Around 30% cheaper than a Stretched Canvas Print

stretched canvas

Our focus here at Blue Horizon Prints is the key for customers the best possible purchasing experience right from the first step of ordering online, through to receiving the finest quality artwork, the after-service follow-up and of course making sure that our customers are happy and keep coming back again and again. We now offer more than 4000 different wall art designs all available as stretched or unstretched canvas prints, a wide righty of other formats such as floating frames or wall decals.

The Blue Horizon Difference

  • All Australian orders for Art are Hand Made in Noosa, Australia (*International orders are printed overseas)
  • Free image manipulation such as removing red-eye, straightening horizons and lightening the image if needed
  • Art is delivered ready to hang on the wall, straight to your door
  • Carefully bubble wrapped and boxed to prevent damage in transit
  • Free choice of 6 wrapping types
  • Every canvas print is stretched by hand on a quality kiln-dried pine wood stretcher frame
  • Protected with invisible spray UV laminate against fading in the harsh Australian climate, our art shouldn’t fade for up to 70 years!


Lastly it’s not something we recommend however to take an unbiased view it’s only fair to include some details about how to frame a canvas painting unstretched print. There are a number of resources online displaying videos and ‘how to’ walk-throughs however my personal favourite is this one on wikihow,

Its a pretty comprehensoive and gives a good walk through in laymans terms about how to stretched your unstretched canvas. however again it’s worth adding a caveat, framing your own rolled canvas print can lead to some complications unless done correctly, such as tearing the canvas or the canvas being loose and flapping / sagging. This being said it is possible to do it yourself if you take care and use the correct equipment.

We are here at your disposal, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or enquiries and we are more than happy to help with any aspect relating to your canvas print or wall art orders.

Our full contact details are here.

The Blue Horizon Prints Team