Soft Roof Shelter Specialists Since 1975

Canvas vs Pvc

Posted by Ida Kemunto on Nov 8, 2018 4:18:45 PM


Canvas vs Pvc: What Should You Know?

We ’re often asked what is better between PVC and canvas. If you are having trouble deciding which material is the best option for your upcoming project, Tarpo is here to help! Of course, there are positive and negative characteristics of both of these materials, making your final decision a little tricky. Let’s compare some of the important features of Canvas and PVC to help you make the best decision.

PVC or Canvas_

Let's Start With The Material...

Canvas can either be cotton or a polyester-cotton blend (polycotton) which means it has synthetic mixed with organic fibres. Polycotton generally tends to be cheaper and is less likely to shrink.

It is typically used for the following;

  • Vehicle covers i.e. fitted covers.
  • Tents,
  • Furniture i.e. (the metal folding chairs), and
  • Parasols.

PVC is a polyester based fabric that can either be coated or laminated.

This material is typically used for the following;

  • Tarpaulins,
  • Vehicle covers (Flat covers),
  • Furniture,
  • Machine Cover and
  • Canopies. 

There's also the matter of the elements- how do these two hold up?

The Sun

Both Canvas and PVC are susceptible to UV radiation and that's why they disintegrate. The more UV stabilization, the longer they are likely to last, but then, of course, the price goes up.

Polyurethane (PU) coated canvas is wrapped with plastic. It can either be plain or ripstop weave. Its lightweight body makes it inherently more breathable than PVC and allows it to adjust to body temperature more quickly.


Canvas is water resistant but not waterproof. This means that quality canvas is able to resist the penetration of water to some degree under the conditions in which it is likely to be used.

Canvas shrinks because of the cotton while PVC doesn’t shrink because of the synthetic fibres.


Both PVC and Canvas are not naturally fire resistant; however, they are fire retardant.

This means that they are able to slow down or stop the speed of fire. This is made possible because they are treated with a substance that lessens flammability known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). This does not make the material fireproof.

Fire retardant properties need to be added to the chemical finish making the price almost double the one without them. Both canvas and PVC don't regularly come with Fire retardant. In Europe, the US and Australia Fire retardant is a requirement by law for certain uses.

Finally, here's the difference when it comes down to cost and durability:


Canvas is more expensive than PVC because cotton fabrics are naturally more expensive than plastic.

You can request a detailed breakdown of cost based on the products you're interested in below:




PVC is known to trap moisture. Moisture cannot escape due to the non-porous nature of the material. Depending on how the material is finished, PVC can last about 5-7 years while Canvas can last about 3-5 years.

Canvas is a green alternative to PVC. Cotton canvas in its raw unfinished form is biodegradable. Since it is rare to get 100% cotton these days, what is imported has a lot of chemical finish but, over time, it is still biodegradable.


That's the rundown on the differences between Canvas and PVC. If you have any more questions, you can always arrange for a free consultation with our team, and we'll help you figure out what suits your needs best. 

Schedule Free Consultation Now

Subscribe to Email Updates