Prepped canvas Vs Primed board.....Thoughts.

I saw an English artist who primes what is called MDF board and it is preferred for detail work, but then I remembered that the Mona Lisa is on a bit of board/plank. The wood/mdf is not really expensive and up to a certain size it is ok, but canvas is the only option for larger work. Anyway, what do you guys/gays think.


  • dencaldencal -
    edited September 2018

    Priming MDF with a waterbased product swells the sawdust, the resulting texture needs coats of gesso and sandpapering to produce a smooth surface. Avoided with oil base primer. Remember to prime the back and sides to inhibit the absorption of moisture, which will twist and bow the panel. Too heavy above 16x20 in. But cheap and easy to cut.

    Dibond (aluminium composite laminates) and PVC laminates are great options for large, light weight panels. Durable, impervious, smooth surfaces that can be gessoed or painted directly on a cleaned surface.

    Links to MITRA docs

    Flexible Supports

    Rigid Supports


  • MDF is available already gessoed or not. 1/4" plywood panels are nice to paint on too. Available gessoed or not. Whether you paint on a rigid surface or canvas is totally personal preference. Both work well.
  • Advantages of Rigid support: tough, durable; cheap; if you paste canvas on top of it you can get best of both worlds. Great for plein air painting as the sunlight doesn't come through the support. It is better not to have a humongous size board/panel due to issues such as weight and warping. Excellent for smaller paintings.

    Advantages of Flexible support: portability. Therefore it can be huge but with much lesser weight. Some find springiness of streatched canvas useful. Canvas texture is useful for some ways of painting.
  • MDF (medium density fibreboard) is made of wood fibers and a combination of binding agents including formaldehyde. I don't think there's any danger from the board itself, but when it is cut, the dust particles are extremely fine and extremely toxic and can lodge deep in the lungs and can be quite dangerous. I just asked my father, who is a carpenter, what he thinks about it, and he said it's a dream to work with but he doesn't use it anymore, because it's sort of like taking up chain smoking. So, if you are going to use it, I would get it pre-cut!
Sign In or Register to comment.