What Happens When Canvas Gets Wet

Ever wondered what happens when a canvas gets wet? Whether you’re an artist or a camper, the effects of a wet canvas can vary depending on how it was prepared and used.

Art Canvas

Artists often utilize canvas as a medium for their artwork, creating stunning pieces with oils, acrylics, and various other materials. But what happens when this type of canvas gets wet?

Primarily, if the canvas is unprepared or unprotected, water can severely damage the material. Wetness can cause the canvas to sag and stretch, potentially ruining an artwork. Moreover, water may cause inks and paints to bleed or fade, leading to a loss of detail and color vibrancy.

However, if a canvas has been prepared with a layer of gesso – a white paint mixture consisting of a binder mixed with chalk, gypsum, pigment, or any combination of these – it becomes more resistant to water damage. The gesso functions as a protective barrier, preventing the water from permeating the canvas and damaging the artwork.

Camping Canvas

Camping enthusiasts might be more familiar with canvas in the form of tents. A canvas tent can offer a wonderful camping experience, but what happens when the canvas gets wet?

Depending on the treatment of the canvas, the results can vary. Canvas tents treated with waterproofing substances can withstand rain and dew, keeping the inside dry and comfortable. The waterproofing treatment forms a barrier that prevents water from seeping into the material.

However, if a canvas tent is not waterproofed, it can absorb water, becoming heavy and saggy. Moreover, the water can eventually pass through the canvas, leading to a wet and uncomfortable camping experience.


Whether we’re talking about art or camping, a wet canvas can either be a disaster or a mere inconvenience, depending on how well-prepared the material is. By treating canvas appropriately, we can strengthen its resistance against water and prolong its lifespan, be it a beautiful painting or a sturdy tent.