What Causes Canvas To Crack

As any artist knows, canvas is a commonly used surface for oil or acrylic painting. However, as time passes, the artwork may develop cracks, which can greatly diminish its value. Therefore, what are the reasons behind canvas cracking? Let’s take a closer look at this matter.

1. Aging and Drying of Paint

When paintings age, the oil or acrylic used can lose elasticity as it dries out and hardens. So, when there are slight changes, like movement or shifts in the canvas, the paint cannot cope, resulting in cracks.


Use high-quality paints and mediums that are less likely to harden and lose flexibility over time. Follow the ‘fat over lean’ rule, meaning each successive layer of paint should have more oil than the previous one.

2. Environmental Factors

Changes in humidity and temperature can cause both the canvas and paint to expand and contract. This constant change can lead to cracking over time.


Maintain controlled and stable environmental conditions for storing artworks. Avoid places with high humidity or extreme temperature changes.

3. Poor Preparation of Canvas

If the canvas is not properly prepared before painting, it can lead to cracking. The canvas should be primed properly to create a suitable surface for the paint.


Always prime your canvas before painting. Use a good quality gesso to create a barrier between the canvas and the paint, preventing the oil in the paint from coming into direct contact with the canvas.

4. Poor Quality Materials

Using poor quality paints, varnishes or canvases can also cause cracks. Cheap paints may contain fillers that can crack or flake over time.


Invest in quality art materials. High-quality paints and canvases may cost more initially, but they could save your artwork from damage in the long run.

Art is a reflection of the soul and it deserves to be maintained at its best. By understanding the causes of canvas cracking, we can take preventive steps to preserve our art pieces for the future generations to appreciate.