How to Adhere Paper onto Canvas?


Canvas Collage Mixed Materials
Canvas Collage Mixed Materials

Perhaps you’ve reached a point where you’d like to know how to stick or glue papers onto canvas and want to know the best methods that work best. Let’s get started with the most common problems of adhering paper to canvas and steps you’ll follow for complete success.

How to Stick Paper to Canvas?

Canvas and paper are two completely different textures. Whether you’re making a collage or mounting paper onto canvas to give it further support, sticking any paper onto canvas might seem difficult. On the other hand, you could make a mistake using too much glue, which makes your paper over-saturated and picks up the texture of your canvas. Using too little amount of glue will lead to long-term adhesion problems likewise.

This is where you need to know a little about glue products, the type of paper you’re using, and the type of canvas you’re trying to glue it to. There is a correct method for using glue that many new artists don’t understand about many popular products. This is why you’ll get plenty of tips and tricks here to make the adhesion process work to your advantage. Just reading the instructions doesn’t always work on your side when it comes to select methods.

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Choose The Right Type of Canvas

If you haven’t noticed already, the canvas is made from two different kinds of fiber. Some versions are made from cotton, and some are made from linen.

Cotton canvas will range in quality from texture to more delicate woven blends with very fine surfaces. These can be purchased either primed or unprimed, so you don’t need to flatten your working surface.

Linen is notoriously full of texture whether or not it’s been primed beforehand. You want to stay away from linen unless you’re using thicker paper or cardstock. But the thinner paper will undoubtedly pick up surface detail if you’re sloppy while gluing it to linen with heavy texture.

Stick to cotton canvases to have fewer problems with texture. But if you find a great deal based on price, you may end up with a canvas that needs prepping due to the texture.

Prepare The Surface of The Canvas

If you buy raw canvas material from an art store, they’ll charge you much more than what you can buy canvas for at a fabric store. Just look for canvas material that has a fine weave and doesn’t look like a burlap bag. Despite this, you’ll need to use a paintable filler that helps smooth out this texture by using a primer. This primer can be purchased from art stores or from online paint suppliers.

These primers are applied to the fabric canvas and are allowed to dry before adding a new layer. Primer is designed to be sanded so you can reduce the amount of texture. Adding 2 or 3 layers of primer and sanding in between each dried layer will give you a very smooth and even canvas surface. This is better when it comes time to glue any kind of paper to a canvas.

Smooth or Rough Canvas

The best surface should be as smooth as possible when it comes to how the canvas is woven. These are going to be more expensive naturally, which is why you’ll have to buy a canvas that has more texture that will require priming. 

As most artists learn, art supplies are costly, and it takes time to learn how to buy supplies that don’t bust your budget. Try to save yourself some money and buy a canvas that’s sold on clearance or is discounted.

Of course, you’ll have to use some primer to smooth out the texture if you decide to work on a dime budget. If you’re clever enough, you can spot a sale price at flea markets, garage sales, yard sales, and watching the ads on craigslist for free stuff. 

The point is not to find the worst rough canvas you can get for nothing but to find the smoothest canvas that you can buy for pennies on the dollar.

Using Gesso

Gesso is a painter’s building block for helping rough canvas to appear as polished as you like depending on the layers you apply and sand. 

It’s made from acrylic paint, chalk, white titanium pigment, and stabilizers that give flexibility and withstand decades. Each layer that’s painted onto your canvas will absorb into the cotton or linen fabric. Since linen is made from hemp fiber, it sticks nicely to the woven strands very securely.

Cotton blends will soak up the gesso, so the drying time initially needs to be slightly longer than linen takes to dry. To apply gesso to your canvas, you need to use a paintbrush and paint it just like you would with regular paint. 

Once you have a single layer applied on an unfinished canvas, let it sit in a dry place for 1-day or so. Use medium sandpaper over the surface with a sanding block to knock down little bumps before painting more gesso layers. Gel Medium is also a possible alternative.

Should You Paint the Surface of Your Canvas?

There’s no need to paint your canvas with any paint aside from using a primer-like gesso. When you use gesso, this already has titanium white pigment mixed into this primer, so it’s bright white when it becomes dry. 

If you want to have any other color aside from white, it’s fine to paint a single layer of acrylic onto the finished gesso. The gesso is primarily acrylic paint to start with, so adding a painted layer on top will stick just fine.

You can also add pigment into your gesso, such as universal tint mixed into acrylic paint. It’s strong enough to tint gesso, but not entirely. 

Since there’s chalk mixed into the mix also, this will be hard to color completely. It can help get a nice halfway-point tint, so you don’t need to use more than one layer of acrylic paint over your primed surface.

Prep The Paper

The paper you’re going to glue onto a canvas needs to be prepped before you directly glue it to your canvas. The reason for this is self-evident since the paper will absorb liquid adhesives if you put these in contact with your paper.

Even if you put adhesive onto your canvas first, this can seep through your paper, and this is something that can ruin your paper right away.

This is why you need to add a protective layer to your paper, so it reduces the chances of adhesive soaking through your paper. 

You need to place your paper onto a surface and spray it with a matt sealer spray. The pieces you want to glue to your canvas must have an even coat of matt spray over the entire surface that you prime before it’s glued to the canvas itself. The matt spray allows it to be glued and prevents excess glue from soaking through.

Can You Mod Podge Paper onto Canvas?

Mod Podge
Mod Podge

Using some Mod Podge to glue materials to canvas is a great idea since this is very effective at getting excellent results. 

It’s not recommended to add Mod Podge onto paper that hasn’t been prepped. For this, you need to spray a layer of matt sealer onto your paper and let it dry. After this is done, you can paint Mod Podge onto your paper and carefully apply it to your canvas.

To keep the paper from moving around. Lay your canvas over something flat on the backside so the canvas is supported. Then add your paper onto the canvas and cover this paper with a piece of wax paper and a flat book. 

Now all you do is let it dry for about an hour or until the Mod Podge is dried from contact with the dry canvas. Remove your book and slowly peel off the wax paper. Your paper is now glued to the canvas.

What is Mod Podge?

Mod Podge is a unique mixture of Polyvinyl Acetate and other synthetic fillers. It’s essentially PVA glue that will dry totally clear. It can be used as glue or a sealer, depending on what you’re doing with it. 

Unlike Elmer’s glue, the bond is much stronger than Elmer’s and will give a better bite to smooth surfaces, like plastic or glass. Since you’re gluing materials to canvas, it will become permanent once it dries.

Mod Podge also has another product used for applying a finish coating onto paper but is no different from using matt spray. 

The Mod Podge finish is meant more for sealing paper and adding shine, just like lacquer. Mod Podge is also a name brand that can be found in every art store you shop at. It’s also sold online wherever art supplies are sold. Since it’s a name-brand product, expect to pay for the name of this product.

How to Use Mod Podge on Canvas?

If you’ve primed your canvas with gesso primer or any similar primer, Mod Podge will stick to it very nicely. If you have a fragile piece of paper that you want to glue to a canvas, such as newspaper, rice paper, or tissue paper, you need to prep them before gluing them to a canvas surface. 

Have a can of matt sealer and spray the back of these paper surfaces. Use a spread-out piece of newspaper, so you don’t have matt sealer overspray everywhere.

Apply the Mod Podge onto your paper pieces using a paintbrush, and then carefully lay these onto your canvas. You can pre-measure how big your paper is using light pencil marks directly on the canvas. 

These marks will help you paint Mod Podge onto the canvas, making placing your paper easier without getting your fingers sticky. Then add some wax paper onto the paper piece and cover it with a flat book. Support your canvas from behind also.

What Kind of Glue Will Stick to Canvas?

Nearly any glue will stick to the canvas, but the problem is using the correct glue that will work in your favor. Picking the best glue is one that won’t destroy your canvas from the chemicals that might be in it. 

Using craft glues is fine, but these glues are meant more for fabric and are pricy because of their usage. The cheapest alternative is looking for any off-brand PVA glue that dries clear.

You could use Mod Podge. However, there are PVA glues that will be suitable substitutes, including Mont Marte PVA Craft Glue. Click here to view on Amazon  

Compare the price to Mod Podge, and you’ll see how much price difference these products will cost. Don’t waste your time with Elmer’s glue; it won’t work and is primarily water-based, which can damage your paper. Even with PVA glue being great for canvas, any paper you glue onto it must first be sealed with a matt spray.

Spray Glue

Spray glue is excellent for instant results, but you need to know which spray glue is better suited for gluing paper. There is all-purpose spray glue, including 3Ms 77 spray and Krylon spray adhesive. 

Stay away from any adhesive that says spray mount. This kind of adhesive is better for attaching paper to paper. You want a universal adhesive that gives excellent tack that dries after a few minutes.

If you are spraying any spray adhesive, use an open area that helps the aerosols dissipate faster. Don’t do this in a small room, or you’ll get exposed to these fumes, which can have terrible effects on your lungs and nervous system. 

A large room with an open window is good as long as there’s fresh air coming in. After spraying, let this tack up, so it will stick better before the paper is added to your canvas.

Brush Adhesive

Brush adhesive is harder to work with because you need to use a paintbrush to apply the glue. You can speed this up by using a tiny paint roller or sponging the glue on a little bit at a time. 

With a flat paintbrush, you’ll have better control to keep the adhesive layer in the spot where you want it to go without mistake. If you Premark where you place paper items into your canvas, you can paint adhesive directly onto the canvas instead of the paper.

Mark them off with a pencil so you can see how much you need to apply at the outer edges. Then, you paint the outer edges of your pencil lines and fill in the rest of the shape of your paper. 

After this, place your paper item onto the canvas and repeat until you have enough paper added. These are covered with wax paper, and place a flat item over the wax paper to lay perfectly flat. Be sure to support your canvas underneath to keep it flat.

Scrappy Art Method Attaching Paper to Canvas

If you’re into making scrapbook art, the secret to this is mapping out where your pieces of paper are going. Try to number your paper on the back of each piece. Lightly list this number on your canvas as well.

This way, you can glue down several pieces of paper at a time. Just like puzzle pieces, these can be arranged beforehand and marked onto your canvas, so the angles are lining up exactly how you want them to be.

You can call this a collage if you like, but it’s a matter of how you want your final composition to appear. There is no rule to making a collage but knowing which piece of paper to glue down first needs to be mapped before you start. 

It’s best to add your adhesive to the paper instead of the canvas. So these will stick to the canvas. It also will help to overlap anything that paper pieces are laid over onto.

How Do You Glue Cardstock?

Gel Medium

You can glue cardstock by putting glue onto the canvas and the paper cardstock, so you get a tighter bond. Mark the edges of a cardstock shape with a light pencil mark into the canvas. 

This gets you an outline that is better to remember where you want to glue the cardstock. Use a flat brush to apply your glue on the canvas first and let it dry. Then add the glue to the back of the cardstock and then let this tack up a little bit longer.

This is easier to handle along the edges when you pick it up and transfer it to the canvas. It will stick down faster, and because the canvas already has dried glue on it will stick down faster than a single layer.

Can Gorilla Glue be Used on Canvas?

Just because you might have learned how to adhere to paper doesn’t mean that mistakes can happen. If you use gorilla spray glue, don’t forget about that idiot who used this as hair spray. 

Gorilla glue is a polyurethane adhesive that has excellent properties for gluing paper. Be careful when spraying it onto your paper, and use rubber gloves, so you don’t get any glue on your hands.

It will have significant contact when the paper is pressed flat with a book. Using wax paper on top of your paper after it’s attached to the canvas will keep anything from sticking if you use pressure after it’s attached. 

But like anything else, gorilla glue is like any other spray adhesive that’s heavy-duty. You need to be very careful when using Gorilla Glue since it’s nasty if you breathe this vapor. Be smart and use plenty of ventilation!

Perhaps you’ve reached a point where you’d like to know how to stick or glue papers onto canvas and want to know the best methods that work best. Let’s get started with the most common problems of adhering paper to canvas and steps you’ll follow for complete success.

How to Stick Paper to Canvas?

Canvas and paper are two completely different textures. Whether you’re making a collage or mounting paper onto canvas to give it further support, sticking any paper onto canvas might seem difficult. On the other hand, you could make a mistake using too much glue, which makes your paper over-saturated and picks up the texture of your canvas. Using too little amount of glue will lead to long-term adhesion problems likewise.

This is where you need to know a little about glue products, the type of paper you’re using, and the type of canvas you’re trying to glue it to. There is a correct method for using glue that many new artists don’t understand about many popular products. This is why you’ll get plenty of tips and tricks here to make the adhesion process work to your advantage. Just reading the instructions doesn’t always work on your side when it comes to select methods.

Choose The Right Type of Canvas

If you haven’t noticed already, the canvas is made from two different kinds of fiber. Some versions are made from cotton, and some are made from linen.

Cotton canvas will range in quality from texture to more delicate woven blends with very fine surfaces. These can be purchased either primed or unprimed, so you don’t need to flatten your working surface.

Linen is notoriously full of texture whether or not it’s been primed beforehand. You want to stay away from linen unless you’re using thicker paper or cardstock. But the thinner paper will undoubtedly pick up surface detail if you’re sloppy while gluing it to linen with heavy texture.

Stick to cotton canvases to have fewer problems with texture. But if you find a great deal based on price, you may end up with a canvas that needs prepping due to the texture.

Prepare The Surface of The Canvas

If you buy raw canvas material from an art store, they’ll charge you much more than what you can buy canvas for at a fabric store. Just look for canvas material that has a fine weave and doesn’t look like a burlap bag. Despite this, you’ll need to use a paintable filler that helps smooth out this texture by using a primer. This primer can be purchased from art stores or from online paint suppliers.

These primers are applied to the fabric canvas and are allowed to dry before adding a new layer. Primer is designed to be sanded so you can reduce the amount of texture. Adding 2 or 3 layers of primer and sanding in between each dried layer will give you a very smooth and even canvas surface. This is better when it comes time to glue any kind of paper to a canvas.

Smooth or Rough Canvas

The best surface should be as smooth as possible when it comes to how the canvas is woven. These are going to be more expensive naturally, which is why you’ll have to buy a canvas that has more texture that will require priming. 

As most artists learn, art supplies are costly, and it takes time to learn how to buy supplies that don’t bust your budget. Try to save yourself some money and buy a canvas that’s sold on clearance or is discounted.

Of course, you’ll have to use some primer to smooth out the texture if you decide to work on a dime budget. If you’re clever enough, you can spot a sale price at flea markets, garage sales, yard sales, and watching the ads on craigslist for free stuff. 

The point is not to find the worst rough canvas you can get for nothing but to find the smoothest canvas that you can buy for pennies on the dollar.

Using Gesso

Gesso is a painter’s building block for helping rough canvas to appear as polished as you like depending on the layers you apply and sand. 

It’s made from acrylic paint, chalk, white titanium pigment, and stabilizers that give flexibility and withstand decades. Each layer that’s painted onto your canvas will absorb into the cotton or linen fabric. Since linen is made from hemp fiber, it sticks nicely to the woven strands very securely.

Cotton blends will soak up the gesso, so the drying time initially needs to be slightly longer than linen takes to dry. To apply gesso to your canvas, you need to use a paintbrush and paint it just like you would with regular paint. 

Once you have a single layer applied on an unfinished canvas, let it sit in a dry place for 1-day or so. Use medium sandpaper over the surface with a sanding block to knock down little bumps before painting more gesso layers. Gel Medium is also a possible alternative.

Should You Paint the Surface of Your Canvas?

There’s no need to paint your canvas with any paint aside from using a primer-like gesso. When you use gesso, this already has titanium white pigment mixed into this primer, so it’s bright white when it becomes dry. 

If you want to have any other color aside from white, it’s fine to paint a single layer of acrylic onto the finished gesso. The gesso is primarily acrylic paint to start with, so adding a painted layer on top will stick just fine.

You can also add pigment into your gesso, such as universal tint mixed into acrylic paint. It’s strong enough to tint gesso, but not entirely. 

Since there’s chalk mixed into the mix also, this will be hard to color completely. It can help get a nice halfway-point tint, so you don’t need to use more than one layer of acrylic paint over your primed surface.

Prep The Paper

The paper you’re going to glue onto a canvas needs to be prepped before you directly glue it to your canvas. The reason for this is self-evident since the paper will absorb liquid adhesives if you put these in contact with your paper.

Even if you put adhesive onto your canvas first, this can seep through your paper, and this is something that can ruin your paper right away.

This is why you need to add a protective layer to your paper, so it reduces the chances of adhesive soaking through your paper. 

You need to place your paper onto a surface and spray it with a matt sealer spray. The pieces you want to glue to your canvas must have an even coat of matt spray over the entire surface that you prime before it’s glued to the canvas itself. The matt spray allows it to be glued and prevents excess glue from soaking through.

Can You Mod Podge Paper onto Canvas?

How to Use Mod Podge on Canvas?
How to Use Mod Podge on Canvas?

Using some Mod Podge to glue materials to canvas is a great idea since this is very effective at getting excellent results. 

It’s not recommended to add Mod Podge onto paper that hasn’t been prepped. For this, you need to spray a layer of matt sealer onto your paper and let it dry. After this is done, you can paint Mod Podge onto your paper and carefully apply it to your canvas.

To keep the paper from moving around. Lay your canvas over something flat on the backside so the canvas is supported. Then add your paper onto the canvas and cover this paper with a piece of wax paper and a flat book. 

Now all you do is let it dry for about an hour or until the Mod Podge is dried from contact with the dry canvas. Remove your book and slowly peel off the wax paper. Your paper is now glued to the canvas.

What is Mod Podge?

Mod Podge is a unique mixture of Polyvinyl Acetate and other synthetic fillers. It’s essentially PVA glue that will dry totally clear. It can be used as glue or a sealer, depending on what you’re doing with it. 

Unlike Elmer’s glue, the bond is much stronger than Elmer’s and will give a better bite to smooth surfaces, like plastic or glass. Since you’re gluing materials to canvas, it will become permanent once it dries.

Mod Podge also has another product used for applying a finish coating onto paper but is no different from using matt spray. 

The Mod Podge finish is meant more for sealing paper and adding shine, just like lacquer. Mod Podge is also a name brand that can be found in every art store you shop at. It’s also sold online wherever art supplies are sold. Since it’s a name-brand product, expect to pay for the name of this product.

How to Use Mod Podge on Canvas?

If you’ve primed your canvas with gesso primer or any similar primer, Mod Podge will stick to it very nicely. If you have a fragile piece of paper that you want to glue to a canvas, such as newspaper, rice paper, or tissue paper, you need to prep them before gluing them to a canvas surface. 

Have a can of matt sealer and spray the back of these paper surfaces. Use a spread-out piece of newspaper, so you don’t have matt sealer overspray everywhere.

Apply the Mod Podge onto your paper pieces using a paintbrush, and then carefully lay these onto your canvas. You can pre-measure how big your paper is using light pencil marks directly on the canvas. 

These marks will help you paint Mod Podge onto the canvas, making placing your paper easier without getting your fingers sticky. Then add some wax paper onto the paper piece and cover it with a flat book. Support your canvas from behind also.

What Kind of Glue Will Stick to Canvas?

Nearly any glue will stick to the canvas, but the problem is using the correct glue that will work in your favor. Picking the best glue is one that won’t destroy your canvas from the chemicals that might be in it. 

Using craft glues is fine, but these glues are meant more for fabric and are pricy because of their usage. The cheapest alternative is looking for any off-brand PVA glue that dries clear.

You could use Mod Podge. However, there are PVA glues that will be suitable substitutes, including Mont Marte PVA Craft Glue. Click here to view on Amazon  Compare the price to Mod Podge, and you’ll see how much price difference these products will cost. Don’t waste your time with Elmer’s glue; it won’t work and is primarily water-based, which can damage your paper. Even with PVA glue being great for canvas, any paper you glue onto it must first be sealed with a matt spray.

Spray Glue

Spray glue is excellent for instant results, but you need to know which spray glue is better suited for gluing paper. There is all-purpose spray glue, including 3Ms 77 spray and Krylon spray adhesive. 

Stay away from any adhesive that says spray mount. This kind of adhesive is better for attaching paper to paper. You want a universal adhesive that gives excellent tack that dries after a few minutes.

If you are spraying any spray adhesive, use an open area that helps the aerosols dissipate faster. Don’t do this in a small room, or you’ll get exposed to these fumes, which can have terrible effects on your lungs and nervous system. 

A large room with an open window is good as long as there’s fresh air coming in. After spraying, let this tack up, so it will stick better before the paper is added to your canvas.

Brush Adhesive

Brush adhesive is harder to work with because you need to use a paintbrush to apply the glue. You can speed this up by using a tiny paint roller or sponging the glue on a little bit at a time. 

With a flat paintbrush, you’ll have better control to keep the adhesive layer in the spot where you want it to go without mistake. If you Premark where you place paper items into your canvas, you can paint adhesive directly onto the canvas instead of the paper.

Mark them off with a pencil so you can see how much you need to apply at the outer edges. Then, you paint the outer edges of your pencil lines and fill in the rest of the shape of your paper. 

After this, place your paper item onto the canvas and repeat until you have enough paper added. These are covered with wax paper, and place a flat item over the wax paper to lay perfectly flat. Be sure to support your canvas underneath to keep it flat.

Scrappy Art Method Attaching Paper to Canvas

If you’re into making scrapbook art, the secret to this is mapping out where your pieces of paper are going. Try to number your paper on the back of each piece. Lightly list this number on your canvas as well.

This way, you can glue down several pieces of paper at a time. Just like puzzle pieces, these can be arranged beforehand and marked onto your canvas, so the angles are lining up exactly how you want them to be.

You can call this a collage if you like, but it’s a matter of how you want your final composition to appear. There is no rule to making a collage but knowing which piece of paper to glue down first needs to be mapped before you start. 

It’s best to add your adhesive to the paper instead of the canvas. So these will stick to the canvas. It also will help to overlap anything that paper pieces are laid over onto.

How Do You Glue Cardstock?

You can glue cardstock by putting glue onto the canvas and the paper cardstock, so you get a tighter bond. Mark the edges of a cardstock shape with a light pencil mark into the canvas. 

This gets you an outline that is better to remember where you want to glue the cardstock. Use a flat brush to apply your glue on the canvas first and let it dry. Then add the glue to the back of the cardstock and then let this tack up a little bit longer.

This is easier to handle along the edges when you pick it up and transfer it to the canvas. It will stick down faster, and because the canvas already has dried glue on it will stick down faster than a single layer.

Can Gorilla Glue be Used on Canvas?

Just because you might have learned how to adhere to paper doesn’t mean that mistakes can happen. If you use gorilla spray glue, don’t forget about that idiot who used this as hair spray. 

Gorilla glue is a polyurethane adhesive that has excellent properties for gluing paper. Be careful when spraying it onto your paper, and use rubber gloves, so you don’t get any glue on your hands.

It will have significant contact when the paper is pressed flat with a book. Using wax paper on top of your paper after it’s attached to the canvas will keep anything from sticking if you use pressure after it’s attached. 

But like anything else, gorilla glue is like any other spray adhesive that’s heavy-duty. You need to be very careful when using Gorilla Glue since it’s nasty if you breathe this vapor. Be smart and use plenty of ventilation!

Ian

Ian Walsh is the creator and author of improvedrawing.com and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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