How to Make a DIY Photo Canvas on a Budget

Canvas Wall DIY 2 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

I am super excited to show you this DIY canvas wall!  The possibilities are endless and the result is SO much fun.

Photo canvases are cool… and very expensive.  Even a small 12″ photo canvas can run around $40 each.  This canvas wall cost about $50 for EVERYTHING.  They are so much fun to change out and blow up those favorite photos.  I just LOVE photos when they are big.

Canvas Wall 3 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


(The opposite wall from this contain two very tall windows… hence the glare on some of the canvases.   You don’t notice it much in person.)

This project is SUPER flexible and you could use any combination of canvas sizes you want.  I purchased the canvases at Michael’s.  They go on sale quite a few times per year.  For example, here is a link to the 16×20″.  It is one of my favorite sizes.  It also looks FABULOUS above a fireplace or couch with a 20×30 in the middle of the 16×20’s.  I guess I just love the 4:5 ratio for some reason.

If it were above my mantel, I would replace the white 20×30 photo in the middle with a family photograph.

Here is a link to Wall Art Placement on Pinterest for inspiration on your space.


Supplies you will need:

-canvases (for this project I used 6 –  16×20 canvases  and 1 – 20×30 canvas OR you can also cheat and use a piece of foam core from the Dollar Store which is exactly 20×30″)
-photo posters (purchased through Costco – the 16×20 posters are $6.99/each and the 20×30 poster is $9.99)
-Mod podge (1-2 ounces per canvas)
-foam brush (3″ wide)
-a lint free cloth (like microfiber or lens cloth, etc.)
-optional:  old tablecloth or piece of plastic to go underneath the project

  1.  Have everything on hand in front of you.  The thin mod podge dries quickly, so you need to have everything sitting in front of you.  This should include the mod podge, foam brush, and the poster.  The canvases at Michael’s even come in black now – that might be really cool.  Just ignore the lid of glue in the photo…. that experiment didn’t work!

Canvas Wall 8 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Canvas Wall 7 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

2.  Gently pour 1-2 ounces of mod podge all over the canvas.  It should be a thin stream.  Spread this with a foam brush all over the canvas into a thin later.  Take care to get the corners very well.   My lovely assistant is demonstrating below.

Canvas Wall 5 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

3.  Very carefully, place the poster down onto the glued canvas.  Line of the edges and corners.  Don’t worry, you still have a little while before it dries to pull the poster to make sure it is completely straight and flush on the sides with the canvas.

Canvas Wall 4 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

4.  Allow it to dry a few hours, and it is ready to hang!  My canvases have a lip on the back, so I just need nails.  No need to add the metal hangers.   Now, you want to be really creative, put mod podge on TOP of the poster and lay a piece of real canvas on top.  Remove the canvas immediately.  The mod podge will form a canvas-like texture on top!

*I know real photo canvases wrap around the canvas.  I thought about this – but this method I did here was so easy and I am happy with it!

Mary Ellen Riley is a portrait, newborn, family and food photographer in St. Louis, MO.  You can find her at and on Facebook

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  1. 2

    Jackie says

    What do you print the poster on? Are the “photo posters” actually on photo paper we can print at home?

  2. 3


    Brilliant. For your final effect of making the canvas texture on top, you could also wrap a piece of canvas around a tight spot roller, and secure it, and apply the Mod Podge with that. If you do all the canvases at once, it won’t dry between, and it would be super fast. Thanks so much for the idea!

  3. 4

    Mark Day says

    What is mod lodge? I’m from the United Kingdom – so might be known as something different here.

    Thank you.


  4. 5


    Love this! I don’t think it matters that the photo does not wrap around the canvas…the white is nice. I guess one could put a ribbon around the edge (of the same width, of course) or even paint the edges black… I can’t wait to try this – thanks :) !

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