How to prepare Hardboard for painting with Gesso



Masonite is a useful and cost effective alternative


Canvas is usually the surface of choice for artist for centuries. It accepts paint well and last a long time. Some artist save a little money stretching there own canvases. It also gives the artist a sense of pride that he/she is more involved in the process of painting. There is now a material that is more rigid and cheaper that canvas and is favored by many artist.
In the 1920’s , a new construction material was created from wood fibers heated by steam and pressed together. This material is called masonite or hardboard. It comes in two grades hardboard and MDF board. The MDF board is less dense and cheaper than the hardboard and has a resin binder. Masonite has usually comes in 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch thick forms and is fairly rigid. Artist often prefer it because it can hold up heavier coats of paint making 3D and textural painting possible on larger surfaces.

Cutting and preparing the masonite

Universal Disc Using a straight edge, measure and mark the masonite with a straight line. This line will be used as a guide for cutting the masonite. The tools that can be used are a circular saw, hand saw, or an angle. grinder. When using and angle grinder, you need an all purpose cutting disc.
Once the board is cut, then wipe the board down with a very slightly damp cloth to remove saw dust. The board is now ready for gesso.

Apply the gesso

Apply 3 coats of gesso Now we will apply the acrylic gesso. Acrylic gesso is an acrylic polymer emulsion like regular paint but has chalk and white titanium dioxide pigment to aid in hiding power and give a “tooth” for the for paint to grab on to.
Apply the gesso in one direction across the board as smoothly as possible trying to avoid brush strokes. After applying the first layer of gesso, allow to dry. When dry, apply the second coat in the other direction to create a cross htched pattern maximizing coverage. Allow the second coat to dry and use a heat gun on low setting to expedite if desired. When dry, lightly sand the surface with 220 grit sand paper or sanding block and remove dust with slightly damp cloth. Next apply a third coat in the original direction pattern and allow to dry overnight if need be.

Add Hangers

It should be mention that now would be a good time to add hanging hardware if you have not already done so. Start by finding the middle of the back of the panel near the top. Next take your picture hanging hardware and screw or nail it to the board. Note that if the nails to the hanger are longer than the MDF board is thick, you will have to apply pieces of wood shim stick the back where the hanger will go to thicken it enough to support the nails.


One thought on “How to prepare Hardboard for painting with Gesso

  1. […] How to prepare Hardboard for painting with Gesso ( […]

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