How To Tell If A Canvas Is Pre Primed

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced painter, it’s crucial to be able to determine if a canvas has been pre-primed. This means it has been coated with a layer of “gesso” or primer to prepare it for painting. This article will provide the steps to determine if your canvas has been pre-primed or not.

Why is it Necessary to Know?

Painting on a pre-primed canvas will not only make your colors pop but also prevent your canvas from soaking up all your paint. It creates a smooth and consistent surface for the paint to adhere to. Thus, it’s crucial to know whether the canvas you’re about to use is pre-primed or needs some priming before getting started.

How to Tell if a Canvas is Pre-Primed

1. Visual Inspection

Firstly, you can simply look at the canvas. A pre-primed canvas tends to have a visibly smoother, slightly textured surface and usually comes in white or off-white color. On the other hand, an unprimed canvas is more likely to be coarse, loosely woven, and beige in color.

2. Touch and Feel

Another method is to physically touch the canvas. A pre-primed canvas generally feels smooth and slightly rubbery, while an unprimed one feels rougher and coarser.

3. The Water Test

Finally, a simple and effective method is the water test. A drop of water on a pre-primed canvas will bead up, while it will soak right into an unprimed canvas.


In conclusion, there are simple ways to determine if your canvas is pre-primed. This is an essential step to ensure a good foundation for your artwork.

Remember, if your canvas is not pre-primed, you can easily do it yourself with some gesso and a brush. Happy painting!