Making It Stick!

Superior adhesion is the key to good panelmaking.

If you learn only one thing on your visit to this website,
please understand that the most important features of a good art panel are these:

Adhesion, adhesion, adhesion!

Features of a good wood panel:

#1) adhesion of artist colors to the primer.
    The most durable panel in the world will not make for a durable painting if the artist's colors don't adhere to it with an absolutely sure and permanent grip. Inadequately "grip-able" primer surfaces a common problem with art panels lead to deterioration in panel paintings. (Primewood™ uses special micro-texture particles in the primer to provide strong adhesion for your paints without causing excessive brush wear.)
#2) adhesion of the primer to the sealant coat
    Every layer of a painting must stick to the next layer tenaciously. Most wood panels should employ a sealant coating crucial for long-term durability, we believe, when an acrylic or oil-based primer is used. But assuring strong adhesion of the primer to the sealant is very difficult. (Our unique primer/sealant combines these two functions, and bonds with a uniquely strong grip.)
#3) adhesion of the sealant to the wood
    Assuring that the first coating layer applied to bare wood adheres strongly is crucial; trying to bond to a smooth, minimally absorbant surface like tempered hardboard is especially problematic.
other considerations:
#4) sealing the wood thoroughly with a vapor-tight barrier
    Even the best wood products will deteriorate if not thoroughly and tightly sealed. An exceptional seal can significantly slow the aging process of a panel, but it must allow for strong adhesion of the primer. (Urethane coatings provide the tightest durable seal-coats available.)
#5) wood selecting the best possible wood product
    Choosing wood wisely will give a painting a better chance at a long life; choosing poorly can doom it to failure. Hardboard (Masonite©) is often especially "adhesion-challenged".

Separation of layers ("delamination") is at the heart of most paint failures in old paintings. So while the quality of materials that go into a panel painting are important, the choice of materials and the ways in which they are bonded together are crucial in determining the ultimate durability of the painting.


You can read more about sealing wood, primers, advanced-chemistry coatings,
and more, in our "Wood Science Library". If you'd like to jump ahead to that section now,
click here:

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So, What Exactly Does
"Archival" Mean?

There is no set definition of the term "Archival Quality". At the least, "archival" must mean that a product is designed to maximize it's life-span. It should not decay from within on its own accord. It should be protected to the highest extent possible from external factors that could hasten its decay. At a minimum, it should do no harm to other materials in contact with it.

For an art supply product to be considered archival, however, we think that maximizing the life-span of the object itself is not sufficient. The product must also be designed to maximize the life-span of the artworks that are created with it. For a panel, even using the best materials available and protecting them from deterioration is not good enough. By our reckoning, even the most durable panel would not be considered archival unless it contributes to the production of an exceptionally durable painting.

Strong and permanent adhesion of the primer to the panel, and of your paints to the primer, is the most overlooked factor in assessing the "archival" quality of an art panel. Ask yourself not only if a panel is durable, but whether it was designed to help you in producing the most durable possible artworks.

Imagine a panel, viewed 200 years from now, still in pristine condition but with its paint peeling off. Archival quality? You decide.