Light vs. Heavy Waxed Canvas — Which Is Right for My Project?

SKU: X-HT-300505



Sailrite® stocks two lines of our popular DuraWax™ Waxed Canvas: DuraWax Light and DuraWax Heavy. Our customers are using these hobby fabrics to create bags, totes, aprons, tool organizers, outdoor gear and more. A common question we receive from customers is, “How do I know whether to use light or heavy DuraWax for my project?” Let's break down the differences between these two fabrics to help you choose the right one for your DIY.

One of the reasons DIYers love working with waxed canvas is for its rugged look and superior water resistance.

What Is Waxed Canvas?

Waxed canvas has a long history dating back to the 15th century as a sailcloth material. Today’s DIYers and makers use it to create vintage-looking, bespoke bags and accessories. It’s a durable, long-lasting and highly water-resistant material. Its manufacturing process is eco-friendly, and it’s a great alternative to leather. A unique feature of waxed canvas is its wax coating. Folding, scratching and scuffing the fabric gives it a weathered, lived-in look. Like a full grain leather, waxed canvas looks better with age and wear.

Reasons to Love DuraWax Waxed Canvas:

  • It’s water- and stain-resistant — perfect for items that will get heavy use outdoors.
  • DuraWax holds scuffs, creases and folds with use, giving it a rich, rugged look over time.
  • The fabric is stiff off the roll but gets softer and more pliable with use while holding its shape over the long run.
  • You can spot-clean and rewax the fabric to maintain its quality and weather-resistant properties.
  • DuraWax features two wax options and fabric weights to choose from.

What’s the Difference Between Light & Heavy Waxed Canvas?

At its core, DuraWax Light and Heavy are the same fabric. Both collections are woven from a 12-ounce heavy-duty cotton duck treated with a wax coating. DuraWax Heavy has a premium beeswax coating. This makes the fabric stiffer and heavier (16.5 ounces per square yard) than DuraWax Light. The beeswax coating remains on the fabric longer than the coating on DuraWax Light, providing more shape retention. DuraWax Light has a paraffin wax coating and weighs 14.5 ounces per square yard. It is more economical and less stiff than our other waxed canvas offering.

We used DuraWax Light Waxed Canvas for our bucket tool caddy and tool roll DIYs. We wanted a fabric that was more pliable and would roll up tightly.

Deciding between heavy waxed canvas and light waxed canvas boils down to two things: water resistance and stiffness. DuraWax Heavy is much stiffer and will keep its shape more than the light version. It is also far more water resistant. This makes it the better choice for outdoor gear and bags. DuraWax Light is more flexible and is a great choice if you don’t need stiffness. It’s what we recommend for projects like jackets and work aprons. DuraWax Light is still water resistant, but if water pools on the fabric it will soak through.

Project Ideas for DuraWax Heavy Waxed Canvas:

  • Backpacks
  • Totes and Duffles
  • Messenger Bags
  • Briefcases
  • Utility Bags
  • Wallets
  • Covers
  • Dopp Kits

Project Ideas for DuraWax Light Waxed Canvas:

  • Jackets
  • Aprons
  • Tool Rolls
  • Tool Bags
  • Coin Purses
We used DuraWax Heavy Waxed Canvas for these projects that needed more structure and needed to keep their shape. See how the scrap bag remains open?

Ultimately, the decision between DuraWax Light and Heavy is completely up to you! Some makers might prefer a lightweight, more flexible bag. So they would use DuraWax Light for bags, totes and more. We recommend ordering 1 yard of each fabric to get a feel for the weight, stiffness versus flexibility, and how the fabric feels in your hand. We stock a wide variety of DuraWax colors that we know you will love working with.

Our waxed canvas isn’t like a normal decorative fabric, so there are some factors to keep in mind when working with it. Just like with any wax product, if left in the hot sun for hours, the wax coating may melt away and need to be re-treated. Heavy friction is also something to consider when working with waxed canvas. If your project receives constant friction against another item, the wax may rub away over time. This might cause some of the canvas dye to bleed through. However, this only occurs in areas that rub against something frequently, so it’s not something that happens often.

Are you interested in using DuraWax for your hobby and bag-making projects? Have you used Light or Heavy DuraWax, and do you prefer one over the other? Share your experiences with other DIYers in the comments section below!