Here at HSD Backdrops, we often get asked, "what is the best material to use for photography backdrops? Vinyl, poly paper, canvas or fabric?" The answer is, it's a personal preference and it depends on what you're using it for. I've listed the pros and cons of each material below. For example, vinyl is very durable and great for a floor. It can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and is pretty heavy, which helps it stay in place. It's not completely glare free though, so may it not be the best option for a hung background (the glare can be fixed during post processing though). Looking for something light weight? Don't have a backdrop stand? Poly paper and canvas are light weight and can be taped or tacked to a wall. Want to store your backdrops folded? Fabric does not need to be store rolled like vinyl, poly paper and canvas. Each material has their pros and cons, continue reading below to find out which material is best for your session:
FABRIC BACKDROPS: Our soft knit fabric backdrops are 100% GLARE FREE, thick (yet still pretty light weight), and VERY vibrant! No light, dull fabric prints here! Fabric is great for storing, simply toss it aside or fold. Fabric backdrops will arrive folded or rolled, depending on the order. Just toss it in the dryer on low heat, steam or hang until the light fold creases fall out. You can also pull it tight and clamp it to the backdrop stand to pull the fold wrinkles out. The fabric will have a small white border around it, simply tuck the white part under the floor drop to hide it. Our fabric is a knitted material (not fleece). We tested several different fabrics and chose this material because it has the most vibrant print.
PROS: 100% GLARE FREE, vibrant print, hangs beautifully, can be stored folded, can be washed on gentle cycle with mild soap (limit washing to keep color vibrant). Spot washed when possible.
CONS: Fabric can be difficult to use as a floor drop if not weight down.
CANVAS: Our canvas backdrops are made of a strong cloth (similar to canvas prints), with a VERY vibrant print and are 100% GLARE FREE. Canvas works great as a backdrop as well as a floor drop. Canvas photographs and hangs beautifully. It weighs a little less than vinyl and should not be folded or washed. It can be hung as a backdrop using clamps or laid on the floor (hard, flat surface) and used as a floor drop. We do not recommend using a canvas floor for cake smashes, as it cannot be wiped clean. If using as a floor for cake smashes, we highly recommend putting a piece of glare free acrylic on top of the canvas. Canvas should be stored rolled inside the shipping tube when not in use. Canvas backdrops will have a small white border around the design (about a quarter of an inch) and is included in the size of the design. The backdrop can be tucked under the floor drop and the white border is not noticeable.
PROS: 100% GLARE FREE, most vibrant print, hangs beautifully, sturdy material.
CONS: More expensive than vinyl and poly paper, cannot be wiped clean
POLY PAPER: Poly Paper is a synthetic, coated paper that is very tough to tear and is an inexpensive option. It's much lighter weight than vinyl and canvas, so it ships cheaper and is easy to hang. It can be hung as a backdrop using clamps or laid on the floor (hard, flat surface) and used as a floor drop. You must be careful when using it as a floor drop so that you do not scratch or crease it. Unlike vinyl, poly paper is not suggested for cake smashes as it cannot be easily wiped clean. Poly paper is 100% GLARE FREE. We recommend storing then rolled inside the shipping tube when not in use. Poly paper backdrops will have a small white border around the design (about a quarter of an inch) and is included in the size of the design. The backdrop can be tucked under the floor drop and the white border is not noticeable.
PROS: Inexpensive, 100% GLARE FREE, light weight and can be taped or tacked to a wall.
CONS: They can scratch when being used as a floor drop and must be handled with care to prevent creasing. Cannot be wiped clean like vinyl.
VINYL: Our matte vinyl backdrops are constructed of fabric hidden between a thin layer vinyl. It is a high quality, heavy duty vinyl. VInyl backdrops are very durable and work well as a backdrop or floor drop. They can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, making them great for cake smashes or messy shoots. The downside to vinyl is that the lighting does need to be adjusted when photographing dark backdrops because the ink can cause a slight sheen. If even minimal sheen is a concern for you we recommend going with Poly Paper or Canvas.
PROS: Inexpensive, the most durable for floor drops, can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
CONS: Backdrops can have a slight sheen, especially with darker drops. Vinyl does not print as true to color as poly paper, canvas and fabric.
Poly paper, canvas and vinyl should never come in contact with sharp objects, it can scratch the print.
When ordering two of the same designs, I highly recommend ordering both in the same material (at the same time), so that you get an exact color match.
I know there are many options to choose from, I hope you found this article helpful! If you still have questions please do not hesitate to contact us here.