How Many Times Can You Paint Over A Canvas?

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The various types of painting have been growing in popularity over the last year or so as more and more people turn to painting as a way to pass the time and express themselves. Although most people start by painting on paper, we have seen an increase in the number of people looking to paint on canvas too.

This has resulted in a surge of questions based around painting on canvas as many beginners look to take their first step from painting on paper to painting on canvas. One of the more commonly asked questions that we have noticed being asked time and time again is how many time can you paint over a canvas?

As we see so many people reaching out about this as well as there being a number of variables that you have to factor in when it comes to re-painting a canvas, we have decided to publish this dedicated article. Our hope is that we will be able to help as many of our readers as possible get the most out of their canvas if they do wish to re-use them or add additional layers to their artwork.

How Many Times Can You Paint Over A Canvas?

Depending on the paint medium and the quality of the canvas, you can potentially paint over a canvas three to five times with little to no difference. The scraping down process does take its toll though and most low quality canvases can only be used once.

If you are using a quality canvas for your paintings then you are usually able to easily scrape them down without much of an issue. If you are a beginner then the scrape down process can be as paint so many people will simply paint over an existing painting.

This process tends to work best if you use an acrylic paint set for your artwork though. This is due to both oil and acrylic paints working well on top of acrylic. If the base painting is using an oil based paint then you can only go over it using an oil paint.

Does The Paint Type Matter?

If you are looking to paint on your canvas as many times as possible then the paint medium that you use does matter more than most people initially think. As we briefly touched on above, acrylic paint or to some extent water color paint is usually the best option due to them both being water based and easily allowing you to paint over them.

If you are an acrylic painter then you are able to paint over your work without having to do a full scrape down without any major issues provided that you are using a quality canvas. Although the re-paint will not be as good as fresh canvas or if you had done a full scrape down, it can work well.

Oil paint can be more difficult to paint over and you can only really paint over it with other oil paints. Due to many oil paints having a texture to them once they have oxidised and dried, a scrape down is usually the best route to take when it comes to painting the canvas again.

Does The Canvas Quality Matter?

One of the main mistakes that we see people new to canvas painting make is that they presume that all canvas is created equally or that the price of a canvas dictates its quality. This could not be further from the truth and a decent, quality canvas is cheaper than most people think depending on the size that you want.

The actual material of the canvas and the way that the fibres are put together comes into play when you are looking to paint a canvas more than once. The quality of the actual canvas is even more important if you are looking to do full scrape downs after each painting too.

In addition to this, some of the low quality canvases on the market that can often be more expensive than a quality canvas will have poor canvas stretching too. This results in sag and the canvas not having been correctly stretched over its frame making it harder to use the canvas initially, never mind paint on it again.

What If The Canvas Has Been Sealed?

If you are wanting to paint over a canvas more than once don’t seal it! We can’t stress this enough as a sealing agent essentially locks the paint in and although you can sometimes paint on top of the sealing agent, it usually makes it impossible to change the paint under the sealing agent.

The same goes for traditional varnish coats too. Once that varnish coat has been applied to the paint on the canvas there is little to nothing that you are able to do to life it off without damaging the canvas. This essentially locks the canvas down to a single use so only seal your artwork once you are happy with it and sure that you want to keep it for as long as possible.

Although there are a number of wax sealing agents that can sometimes work, they will require a full scrape down of the canvas rather than allowing you to paint over the top of them. We usually recommend against using wax sealants due to them often under performing in our opinion anyway.

Can You Reuse A Painted Canvas?

You are able to reuse a painted canvas by either doing a full scrape to remove the paint on the canvas or by painting over the current layers of paint. Although a full scrape will offer better results when reusing a painted canvas, painting over the existing paint is much easier.

If you are a beginner then we usually just recommend that you paint over the current paints as explained earlier in the article. If you are a more experiences painter then you can look to do your own full scrapes if you have the time available.

Due to a quality canvas being much cheaper these days than they once were, many people will often just purchase a new canvas for their artwork. If you are a keen artist and paint on a regular basis then you can bring the costs of your canvas down even more by purchasing them in bulk.

How Many Layers Of Paint Can You Put On A Canvas?

Although it is controversial, most people agree that you can usually apply one to seven layers of paint on a single canvas. We usually recommend that you don’t go above five on a standard canvas but a high-quality canvas should easily be able to handle seven layers or potentially more.

Keep in mind that we are referring to layers in your painting and not how many times you are able to re-paint a canvas. There are multiple factors involved in both situations but we usually recommend no more than five layers on a decent canvas.

Keep in mind that the more layers on your canvas will also reduce the number of times that you are able to re-paint the canvas by applying new paint to it without doing a full scrape. If you do look to do a full scrape of the canvas then the more layers that you have on it then the longer the full scrape will take.


That brings our article going over how many times you can paint over a canvas to a close. As we have explained in the article above, there are a number of situations that will dictate different things when it comes to painting over your canvas multiple times but it is doable and many people do it. There are also a number of famous artists such as Rembrandt who were notorious for re-painting and painting over their canvas’ too.