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Superior Wood Painting Panels

Compare PRIMEWOOD Wood Panels to other brands of art panels


J. F. Kensett "View at Conway" 1850 [detail] - Oil on Panel
PRIMEWOOD panels feature better quality wood and a superior sealant system. They provide stronger adhesion between the wood and the primer, and between the primer and your paint. Precise, sure application of your paints onto our panels is another of their outstanding features.



Other Art Boards and Panels:

Unfinished "Art" Boards and Plywood Panels

Primewood™ art panels are tightly sealed and carefully primed archival painting surfaces. By comparison, an unfinished, unsealed, or unprimed "art" board can hardly be considered an artist's panel at all. Unfinished wood by its nature is unstable, and certainly not archival in any sense. It deteriorates from contact with moisture, light, and even air itself. (Read about Deterioration of Wood Panels.) Preparing wood panels for artists use is a complex task, as anyone who has tried it knows. And without careful and proper preparation, even the best wood materials will not hold up well over extended time frames. Unfinished wooden boards sold as art supplies are simply a convenient, if expensive, way to buy cut-to-size lumber. Why pay for elaborately braced MDF, hardboard, or plywood panels which will then dry out from inadequate preparation? If you want to prepare your own panels, you can often get fine fiberboards and plywood cut to size for you by making arrangements with a local furniture maker or cabinet shop. Read our wood glossary to pick out the best wood, and our tips on sealing and preparing panels for information on preparing your own.

"Half-finished" Gesso Boards (face-primed only)

Art boards or "bords" which are not well sealed and finished on all surfaces (fronts, backs, and edges) should not, in our opinion, be considered archival quality panels. As noted above and throughout our website, wood will deteriorate if it is not tightly sealed. Sealed edges are especially important, as vapor exchange takes place mostly throught the edges of wood panels of any kind. Some brands of art boards are primed only on the face, with unsealed edges, and backs which have been "sealed" only with a thin coat of clear acrylic-latex varnish. This acrylic sealant does not protect wood from UV radiation, or stop moisture or lignin transmission. (See our deterioration of wood panels page to learn more about this aspect of panel durability.) Face-primed only panels are also considered "unbalanced" panels. Without the same treatment on both sides, panels are more likely to "bow" due to uneven expansion and contraction. Primewood™ panels are primed on all surfaces. Are yours?

Masonite/Hardboard-based Art Panels

Compared to several other better choices, hardboard (a.k.a. Masonite) is not a good choice of materials for art panels. Its extreme density and uniformly aligned fiber structure give it an unfortunate tendency toward warping. Its almost total reliance on lignin to bind its fibers together makes it especially vulnerable to decay. The planar alignment of its fibers, as well as layers of very short fibers (called "fines") on its surfaces, makes it susceptible to delamination. Tempered hardboard, especially, provides very poor adhesion for primers. Do art collectors a favor and use something better! (Read more about hardboard, and our superior fiberboards, in our wood glossary.)

Acrylic-primed Painting Panels

Primewood™ panels are made with a revolutionary urethane-based art primer. By comparison, panels primed with acrylic gesso, acrylic-based "clay" coatings, or water-based acrylic primers have several shortcomings. The relatively high permeability rates of these primers leave panels open to off-gassing of lignin, a major factor contributing to the deterioration of wood. Moisture exchange through acrylic-latex leads to expansion/contraction and cracking. Most acrylic gessoes offer relatively weak adhesion for subsequent paint layers, especially when they have been sanded/polished to an extremely smooth surface finish; this bodes poorly for long-term durability. It also makes the panels feel "slippery" and makes for poor paint handling. Acrylic water-based primers also bond weakly to wood, meaning that the possibility of eventual primer separation from the wood is higher than with stronger-bonding primers. For more details, see our advanced primers page.



Features: PRIMEWOOD Panels Other Brands
finest premium thin fiberboard substrate
rigid, reinforced sandwich panels (PRIMEWOOD Plus)
extra tight vapor barrier for durability
edges carefully sealed for durability
strongly adhering, advanced primer
precision microtexture surface
(for better brush-handling and paint
adhesion, without excessive brush wear)
designed to resist swelling, drying out,
splitting, and de-lamination


If you'd like to read an even more detailed comparison:

Appearance of PRIMEWOOD Thin MDF panels vs. hardboard panels

Smoothness of art panel surfaces



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