Mounting linen to a panel and applying an oil painting ground


Some may be interested in gluing linen to MDF.



  • edited February 16
    Thanks for that, @Dencal. Every time I've tried this I ended up with bubbles under the canvas. I see now that I should have painted on heaps of glue with a brush on the MDF and then used a brayer to roll out the canvas over the glue covered sheet of MDF.  I must get me one of those brayers for next time I try it.  :)
  • Rob

    Get a larger brayer than shown here. Probably a paint roller would work just as well. What about a length of pvc pipe?
    Also of interest was the ultralight MDF mentioned.


  • edited February 16
    Yes, Denis, a hard paint roller would probably work. 

    The weight of MDF was another of the considerations that put me off using it for large paintings. But, if it can be as light as he says, then I'm even more willing to give it another try.  Stretching canvas can be a pain. It's difficult to keep everything square when you put tension on the canvas. Canvas on lightweight MDF would overcome this problem. I like the texture of canvas and will continue to use it whether stretched or glued to MDF. Do you think canvas could be glued to aluminium panels?  :)
  • Rob

    Yes. Linen and cotton glued to ACM is available commercially.
    Dozens of brands. Here is an example:


  • Sounds good to me if you like painting on linen! :)
  • edited February 21
    Thank you @Denis this is great. 
    After my preparing ca. 35x white birch panels, 5" x 7", 4 coats of acrylic gesso (wasn't necessary after all) Haha!
     I will be gluing my canvas to these small panels. I'll put tooth into the hard dried gesso with rough sandpaper before applying the glue and canvas. I'll be using archival quality neutral ph adhesive.
    This in turn saves me from worrying and witnessing these wood panels split and break the painting surface. Haha!  Had I known beforehand, I would not have needed to apply any gesso at all on the painting surface in the preparation. However, these 4x coats of gesso would have been better applied to the canvas prepared for oil painting. Haha!
     Live and learn, no worries, it's all good. Haha!
  • Hi @Forgiveness - I don't know whether you already do this, but you may wish to consider sealing all the sides of your panels (4 sides and the back; the front is already sealed) before gluing on the canvas. I have noticed this total sealing keeps them from warping from uneven exposure to humidity.

    I also have a lot of panels (about 25) I prepped for paint, then decided I did not have confidence in the substrate under the sealant and ground, so have re-allocated them to use as a support for Arches oil paper surface. Hahaha......  No wonder they were on the clearance rack in the art store. Haha.... The clever manufacturer had sprayed the primed front with a quick-release silicone to make getting them out of the package easier. Haha etc. No, I actually am not joking. Slippery little devils.  
  • I'm sure many will disagree with me, that's fine, but I'm not a fan of MDF (or most plywood) for fine art. Average lifespan 14-20 years. Are you perhaps using a special class of MDF I'm not aware of that minimises the problems? 


    • Not a dense panel with a high tendency for warping in thinner versions.
    • Porous: therefore not easily primed.
    • Formaldehyde based resins primarily used for binders.
    • High acidic content.
    • Fibers swell when gessoed.
    I think it's dreadful stuff that wants to fall apart and releases formaldehyde for first couple of years (which corrodes lead for those who use it among other things), very hygroscopic, prone to warping. You can get it with no added urea-formaldehyde (NAUF) panel or CARB compliant.
    Thinner MDF panels are more susceptible to water absorption and more prone to warping than HDF, for example. While a thicker MDF panel may help to reduce its tendency for warping, it can still have issues due to excessive moisture absorption. This moisture includes issues such as fiber raising when applying priming coats. A denser panel in comparison will accept a smoother coating of primer, reducing the number of gesso layers needed to properly prepare a panel with a smooth painting ground. From -
  • Abstraction

    Agree 100%. I have experienced/suffered all of those detrimental attributes of MDF.
    ACM is a much better option and the linen gluing process shown in the video is identical using ACM.

  • So, it looks like canvas on ACM is the way to go. That way, I'll avoid the problems involved in stretching canvas, not have to worry about the porosity and hydroscopic nature of MDF and still get the canvas texture I like to paint on. I've got 10 stretched and primed canvases to use up before I start gluing canvas to ACM, though.  About six months.  :)
  • Rob

    One of your concerns about ACM is the drop damage to the corners.
    The best way to guard against this is an aluminium frame of some sort. I have posted links to these previously.

    Meantime, a quick and dirty scheme of protection is the Zenith Corner Brace.

    I intend to Araldite these to the bottom corners. $6 for 12 or 50c each at Bunnings.

    Not a complete cure but a cheap reinforcement of the vulnerable corners.

  • edited February 22
    That's a great idea, @dencal. Thanks.

    The good thing about attaching canvas to ACM is that, if the aluminium does get a dent, the canvas can be removed and remounted. For me, it's a win win.  I'd get rigidity, and the texture I want, without the problems involved in stretching canvas and without the archival problems of MDF. And those corner brackets would provide added protection to the corners which are the parts most likely to be damaged.  :)
  • Rob

    Can I also suggest leaving a ten cm sacrificial strip of aluminium, top and bottom with the aim of trimming to size just before framing.

    In this way any handling problems resulting in a bent corner will not be game over.

  • You can also get foam corner protectors like this which means you don't have to use epoxy glue:

  • Thanks, @dencal and @Richard_P. Both good ideas.  :)
  • @dencal instead of Araldite perhaps using a silicone adhesive would be better.  That way you could always remove the corner brace if you ever needed to?
    I am looking at using floater frames for ACM panels and plan to make a wood cradle for the panel.  My plan is to use small dabs of silicon to adhere the cradle to the panel and then screw the cradle to the back of the floater frame.  This way if I ever need to remove the panel from the cradle I can just use a razor blade to break the silicon from the panel. 
    That’s my plan anyway.
  • GTO

    Yep, good idea. Thanks

    I had the thought that I could slip the blade of a box cutter behind the corner brace to cut through the Araldite.

    You have pushed me to try a Bosch glue gun. A bit of leverage and a spray of isopropyl alcohol should pop the brace off.


  • I would just try painters type, there's not any real weight on these braces so enough tape should easily hold the corner protectors in place and be easily removable.
  • edited February 28
    Hi @Forgiveness - I don't know whether you already do this, but you may wish to consider sealing all the sides of your panels (4 sides and the back; the front is already sealed) before gluing on the canvas. I have noticed this total sealing keeps them from warping from uneven exposure to humidity.

    @Desertsky thank you yes, I got this. It's all good. Haha! However I've never be successful at avoiding warpage, but once placed in a frame it can be fixed in place no worries.
     4x coats of acrylic gesso is to protect the wood from absorbing the oil from the paint, this is very good practice.
     In the end this has become laborious and expensive to do, much more than I originally expected for my strict budget. Haha! I'm grateful for this experience, it is almost done and I can now enjoy painting on them in the near future, finally! haha!
     I still have to cut and glue the canvas and let dry.
     Next step is 2x coats of acrylic gesso and 2x thin coats of lead oil ground and I'll be good to go. Haha!
  • edited March 4
     Next step is 2x coats of acrylic gesso and 2x thin coats of lead oil ground and I'll be good to go. Haha!
    I am a bit late to the party, but I believe that it is recommended that you prime / apply the ground to the canvas before you glue it down unless your support is extremely rigid or it can warp severely.


    I don't paint on canvas anymore as I don't like the way it looks with oils on it, preferring a smooth surface, so now I paint on primed, tempered hardboard (not MDF) and ACM panels. I have never dented an ACM panel, but if I am moving big ones, I get help. I do like the idea of corner protectors just in case. Once framed, an ACM panel, hardboard panel or canvas on an a rigid panel, is much less prone to damage than stretched canvas. 

     If I were going to adhere primed canvas to ACM or hardboard, I would probably use a heat activated archival adhesive or Beva 371 gel. 
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