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What is Duck Cloth?

What is Duck Cloth?

What is duck cloth? Cotton duck (from Dutch: doek, “linen canvas”), also simply duck, sometimes duck cloth or duck canvas, commonly called “canvas” outside the textile industry, is a heavy, plain woven cotton fabric. There is also linen duck, which is less often used. Duck is used in a wide range of applications, from sneakers to use for artists’ paintings to tents to sandbags.[1] Duck fabric is woven with two yarns together in the warp and a single yarn in the weft.

Information above is from:

It is 100% cotton (sometimes cotton/synthetic blended or 100% synthetic) plain woven heavy-weight fabric. Above 10 oz/square yard (but now also include some fabric as light as 7 oz/sq.yard). The word “duck” is used to describe all kinds of canvas in North America, whereas in the rest of the world a lighter weight duck is known as “canvas” & heavy weights, used in industry, only as “duck”. Cotton Duck is one of Canvas ETC’s most popular utility cloths.

Basic Duck Weaves:

what is duck clothcotton-duck-cloth-plain-weave cotton-duck-cloth-oxfordweave

What is Duck Cloth? An Overview

We are often asked, “what is duck cloth?” Canvas and duck are terms used interchangeably and can often been confused. This fabric is defined as an fabric that is strong and heavy having a firm hand. Canvas is usually used in awnings, boat covers, and outdoor furniture. Duck on the other hand is usually spun polyester or spun cotton fabric available in a variety of weights and qualities. Both canvas and duck are available in plain weave or basket weave. Canvas is made from either cotton or acrylic.

fabric duck
Durable fabric duck bag.

There are many kinds of canvas weight fabric. They are known by names that are historically connected to them like “Army”, “Numbered”, “Belting”, “Sail”, etc. In modern times however, these different weights have been numbered to make distinguishing them easier.

Single Filled Cotton Fabric Duck

Generally light-weight, loosely woven, oxford weave cotton duck cloth, made from non-plied single yarns. The more common SF ducks weigh 7, 10 and 12 oz/square yard. These weights correspond to how much one square yard weighs.

Some of the most popular projects to complete with single filled cotton fabric duck are liners, table cloths, slip covers, and other bags or covers.

Because Single filled duck only has one yarn in the weft, it is a bit softer and more giving than a numbered duck.

Numbered Cotton Duck Cloth

Heavier plain weave fabric, made with plied yarns, weighing 12 to 32 oz/square yard. #1 being 32 oz/square yard and #12 being 12 oz/square yard. This cotton duck cloth is tight, firm cotton fabric ranging from 22″ to 150″ in width. This is also called wide duck and the weights (numbering system) are on the inverse scale.

The weight of the fabric can be determined by subtracting the duck number from 19. A number 8 cotton duck fabric will weigh (19-8)= 11 oz per lineal yard of 22″ width fabric. To get the ounce per square yard, you have to prorate it to 36″ width since 1 square yard is 36″x36″. 11 oz per lineal yard(22″) is the same as 18 oz/sq. yd. A little confusing, but that’s how he original numbering system was invented.

What is duck cloth? Is it right for your next project? Read below to learn more about different duck cloth varieties.

Army Cotton Duck Cloth

10 oz & 15 oz. plain weave fabric, generally made with two ply yarns. The yarns are finer than the numbered or single fill fabrics and the weave tighter. Army cotton duck cloth is usually firmer than single filled fabrics. Originally used for army tents and clothes, this versatile cotton duck fabric is used in a variety of applications.

Belting Cotton Fabric Duck

Heavy, plain woven, plied yarn cotton duck cloth used as conveyor belts. Belting cotton duck has its greatest strength in the fill yarns. This fabric is very thick and best used where it is likely to take some abuse.

Boot or Bootleg Cotton Duck Cloth

Similar in construction to hose duck cloth, being soft and pliable and made with plied warp and fill yarns. This cotton duck cloth was used in the leg of rubber boots and plastic reinforcements. Cotton duck is a great choice as it will yield to the wearer, but can still be made water resistant.

Hose Cotton Duck Cloth

Soft, open, plain weave, plied yarn cotton duck cloth. This cotton duck cloth was originally used as a liner for garden hoses. Duck cloth was even used for fire hoses before rubber and other materials were readily available. They are still a great choice for pumping water in an emergency or in sump pump use.

Biscuit Cotton Duck Cloth

The heaviest range of numbered ducks.

Chafer Cotton Duck Cloth

Medium texture, balanced strength, weights ranging from 8 to 17 oz/sq. yd. Low weight single yarn chafer cotton fabric were generally used for bagging, box spring and mattress covers, linings and upholstery end uses.

Enameling Cotton Duck Cloth

Single or double filled flat ducks. This cotton duck cloth usually has two warp yarns that lay parallel to each other when woven. Used for rubber industry liners, canvas footwear, coats, aprons, book binding and other uses. These uses called for a finer cloth to be used.

Flat Cotton Duck Cloth

This is a term used for a single and double filled canvas weight fabric because two strands of single yarns are woven side by side(warp yarn) interlacing with a filling yarn. This is a medium-weight material that works well in a number of different projects. It looks just as good hanging on a wall at home as it does as a purse slung over your shoulder. And when you’re done making projects, feel free to try your hand at painting on it.

Shelter Tent Cotton Duck Cloth

Plain carded cotton duck cloth with with 2 plied yarns in both warp and weft. The weight of this fabric is roughly 8.5 oz/sq. Yd. This fabric makes the perfect choice for covering a boat, camper, or antique car. It works equally well for tents, tipis, bed rolls or even a sauna.

Sail Cotton Duck Cloth

Hard construction numbered ducks used in military equipment, tarps, covers, ground cloth, filter cloth, coal bag and other heavy duty applications. Cotton sailcloths were known to be stronger than most other materials available at the time.

Paper Felt Cotton Duck Cloth

Canvas weight fabric used as conveyor aprons in paper making machinery.

Press Cotton Duck Cloth

Heavy-weight plied yarn cotton duck cloth, loosely woven in balanced construction. Originally used with cider presses. The strong material is able to stay together even when over a thousand pounds of pressure are exerted.

What is Polyester Duck Fabric?

Polyester duck is usually plain weave fabric made from spun polyester yarns. Polyester is a man made fiber, and it’s available in staple (spun) or Filament yarns.

What is Muslin?

This is a cotton (or sometimes cotton/polyester blended) plain weave fabric, with a high density of threads and generally available in width up to 144″, in weights 3 to 5 oz/square yard, in natural & colors.

canvas weight fabric

What is Polyester Duck Fabric?

Polyester duck is usually plain weave fabric made from spun polyester yarns. Polyester is a man made fiber, and it’s available in staple (spun) or Filament yarns.

What is Muslin?

This is a cotton (or sometimes cotton/polyester blended) plain weave fabric, with a high density of threads and generally available in width up to 144″, in weights 3 to 5 oz/square yard, in natural & colors.

What is Linen?

Also known as Flax fabric, produced from the yarn made from the flax plant. Linen is preferred by some artists due to its body and its uneven surface texture. The word “Linen” today generically refers to all bed/bath textiles (not made from Flax fiber).

Linen is prized as one of the oldest textiles in the world, and was even used as currency in the days of ancient Egypt. Even today, linen costs much more that other textiles to produce.

Linen is a very strong fiber that resists stretching much. It is also able to absorb a fair amount moisture without feeling damp. This has lead to linen being an excellent fabric for clothes in hot and humid climates. Many say that linen feels cool to the touch, which also helps in the heat.

Many people pick linen for a wide range of uses today. From bed fabrics, tablecloths, upholstery or even wallpaper, Linen has seen many uses. In fact many countries choose to print their currency and archival documents on paper that has a portion linen in it because it adds so much strength.  

One of the most popular uses of linen today is for oil painting.

Linen Used in Oil Painting

Many artists choose to use a linen canvas for their oil painting. This provides an excellently uniform and smooth surface to work on. Linen also doesn’t stretch as much as most other natural mediums.

In the United States, many artists use cotton canvas because it is so much cheaper and more available than linen canvas. Whereas in the UK, both textiles are available with linen being prefered because it is so much stronger, durable, and chemically safe.

What is Unprimed/Primed/Greige/Processed Fabric?

  1. Unprimed fabric, also known as greige/grey/natural fabric, is one that has not been treated after being woven. That is, it is “loom-state”.
  2. Primed fabric is one that has been coated or “primed” on ONE SIDE of the fabric, with layers of acrylic gesso or other primers. It is then ready for stretching/painting. Primed canvas widths will likely be about 1″ lower than unprimed width – this is to say for example, that a 60″ primed canvas will be primed about 59″ wide on a 60″ raw fabric
  3. Processed fabric is fabric that has gone through bleaching/dyeing & other finishing processes.

What is Stretched Canvas?

Canvas weight fabric that has been primed and stretched on to a wooden frame. These come in various sizes. This is now ready for the artist. A lot of more experienced painters prefer to prime and/or stretch their own canvas. All our primed artist canvas fabrics are excellent for stretching if you prefer to do it yourself.

If you are an artist just starting out, stretched canvas is an excellent place to begin. It saves you the time of stretching your own canvas rolls and lets you focus on your craft. No need to worry about any mistakes you may have made, just worry about creating your next masterpiece.

Why should I use Canvas ETC Products?

Canvas ETC never compromises quality due to cost pressures. While most available artist canvas weight fabric today is lighter and coarser, Canvas ETC has maintained the old higher standards. We give below examples of the average weight of Canvas ETC canvas or duck compared to competition (greige/natural canvas in oz/square yard) so you can see how they stack up to us:

Product CanvasETC Competition
#12 duck cloth 11.80 11.50
#10 duck cloth 15.00 14.40
#08 duck cloth 18.50 17.50
#06 duck cloth 21.00 19.80
#04 duck cloth 24.50 24.00
#01 duck cloth 30.50 29.50
10 oz duck cloth 10.00 9.60
  1. Our Primed canvas is double acrylic coated & adds about 3 oz/square yard to our basic fabric weight. So our 10 oz primed canvas actually weighs around 13 oz/square yard.
  2. Our cotton duck cloth fabrics are manufactured on the latest machines and tested with modern equipment.
  3. Primed canvas is primed about 1″ less than shown. For example a 60″ wide primed canvas will be a 60″ wide fabric with about 59″ of the width primed & about 1″ on the edge which will not be primed.

How Should I Select a Canvas?

When choosing a canvas, the best thing to do is consider your needs. Are you looking for canvas to build a shelter? Will your canvas be used in an artistic endeavor? Whatever the need, CanvasETC has all types of canvas that will be sure to fit your needs.

Painting – The most commonly used canvas are the 7 oz, 10 oz, #12 & #10. The #12 duck is however the only one easily available in a wide range of widths from 36″ to 144″. Our canvas is the perfect base for your work whether you’ll be using a guesso or not.

Floor-Cloth – The heavy fabrics like #1,#4,#06, #08, #10 are the perfect choice for your draping needs. You’ll be able to repaint a room without worry of spills.

Photo Backdrops – The wide-width muslin (natural & colors) and the wide width #12 duck are a perfect backdrop. They can easily be rolled away and are the perfect choice for a mobile photo booth.

Aprons/Bags – You can easily choose the right fill for your next project. The Single Filled ducks work best for cheaper products (natural & dyed). Any of the numbered ducks are best for more expensive products.

What is Duvetyn?

Duvetyn is a sateen (twill) weave fabric. It’s is a suede type fabric that is soft and velvet like and easily drapeable. More economic than the heavier commando cloth, use duck cloth for masking and lightweight drapes. Therefore, the fabric is napped on one side to block some light and has a flame retardant finish. Usually available in black and white and in 54″ width rolls. This could be a great choice for your next project.