What Is Duck Cloth?

Duck cloth is a heavy fabric commonly referred to as canvas. It's usually made of cotton--which is also called canvas duck or just "duck"--but linen duck, made from flax, is available.


Heavier grades of duck are used to make sails and boat covers

The name "duck" comes from the Dutch "doek," a linen cloth. All canvas was once made from hemp, so this different name was adopted for cotton and linen versions.


Duck cloth has an enormous range of applications. Lighter-weight versions are used for such things as clothing and bags, while heavier weights are made into tarpaulins, sneakers and sails.


Duck is relatively inexpensive and extremely durable. It can be washed and weatherproofed. It also dyes easily.


Cotton duck is graded on a scale of 1 to 12. The lower the number, the heavier the grade.


Duck is what's known as a plain-weave fabric, meaning the threads alternate one-over, one-under, creating a checkerboard-like appearance.

About the Author

Cam Merritt is a writer and editor specializing in business, personal finance and home design. He has contributed to USA Today, The Des Moines Register and Better Homes and Gardens"publications. Merritt has a journalism degree from Drake University and is pursuing an MBA from the University of Iowa.