The Best Surface for Acrylic Painting

The Best Surface for Acrylic Painting. Overview by Smart Art Materials

What is the best surface for acrylic painting? A lot of painting beginners wonder about it, and for a reason.

The Best Surface for Acrylic Painting. Overview by Smart Art MaterialsPainting surface, also called painting support (or painting substrates), is a very important component of the creative process, and choosing the right one can make a huge difference.

Working with Acrylic Paint is beneficial because you have a wide range of surfaces to choose from. Broadly speaking, you can paint on any surface that is not oily and not completely smooth (like glass).

Now, let's take a closer look at some of the most popular and convenient painting surfaces for acrylics.

The Best Surface for Acrylic Painting - Overview of Favourites


The Best Surface for Acrylic Painting. Overview by Smart Art Materials

Canvas was, is and probably will be the most popular painting surface among artists. By all means, it's definitely one of the best painting supports and my number one recommendation. So what makes canvas so good? First of all - it's longevity and durability, second - it's texture, the weave of the cloth makes a great surface for most paints to adhere, and the last reason - finished canvas painting looks quite presentable, although it mostly depends on the painting itself. 😉

Canvas is available in different forms, so please check out this article - Canvas for Painting - to find out which one suits your needs best.

Wood Panel and Hardboard

The Best Surface for Acrylic Painting. Overview by Smart Art MaterialsYour next option is Hardwood Panel. Wood panels, in general, are almost as traditional as the canvas and have been in use for a while. The only serious downside of this option is that good quality hardwood panels are quite expensive. And this is when hardboard comes into play - durable and sturdy, hardboard (also called masonite) is an inexpensive alternative to wood panels, and it's very popular among pros and beginners.

Unless you buy a pre-primed product, both wood and hardboard panels have to be sanded and primed with gesso before paint application (to give a surface some tooth for the paint to grip). MDF can also be used the same way as hardboard.

Canvas Paper

The Best Surface for Acrylic Painting. Overview by Smart Art MaterialsMy last recommendation is Canvas Paper. Acrylic painters enjoy using paper because of its similar to canvas texture and very affordable price. Canvas Paper also known as acrylic paper, comes in a variety of sizes and is great for practicing and experimenting. It's highly recommended to prime this paper prior to painting. Click here to get more information about this option.

Get to practice!

I hope this article helps and now you know what is the best surface for acrylic painting. What's is next? Definitely read about different types of canvas, and experiment with all the painting supports available to you, as this is the only way to figure out what works the best. Have fun painting and please let me know if you have any questions



10 thoughts on “The Best Surface for Acrylic Painting

  1. This is great. I am new to painting and I buy most of my art supplies as gifts for my children. I really am a new beginner at this. I am glad that you made everything so clear and easy to follow. I did not know that massonite was a very good substitute for hardwood.
    I like you idea to use canvas paper. Kids are really happy to experiment with any surface, but the price of quality materials really adds up quickly. Thanks for the great alternatives.

  2. Patrice says:

    Hello. I enjoyed this article. I didn’t know there are so many options for painting surfaces. I decided to start going to sip and paint places to get my paint on. I truly enjoy painting, just a hobby. It’s relaxing for me. I want to know more about painting on canvas. Also, what is your recommendation about the cheap but good paints?


    • Olga says:

      Hi Patrice, you are welcome 😉 Painting is very relaxing for me to, sometimes it’s better that meditation. 

      To read more about canvas, check out this article, and yes, I have some recommendation about affordable paints, that would be a good quality student grade paint, and can read about here

  3. Hollie Rose says:

    Reading an article on painting takes me back many years to when I used to paint every day! I took art in school and it was a ton of work but I loved it. My style was very exact paintings so I never had to paint anything too big. I always used canvas paper. I never primed it though- what exactly does priming the paper do? is it easier to paint on?

    • Olga says:

      Hi Hollie, yes, priming makes it easier to paint on paper by making paper sturdier, so it’s definitely highly recommended.

  4. Fred says:

    This is great. I love how you explained each type of paintable surface. I have never done a lot of painting, mostly drawing, which I pretty good at. I’m trying to experiment with some watercolors and acrylics, so this is very a useful info! Thanks for sharing!

    By the way, I love your paintings.

    • Olga says:

      Hi Fred, thanks a lot! 🙂 I’m happy to hear it was helpful, stop by again to find out more acrylic painting, and let me know if you are going to have any questions down the road.

  5. Furkan says:

    I am actually a newbie and I also consider Canvas for Acrylic Painting. I also read that the texture of it is superior to other materials.
    You said that its durability is quite good and I really wonder how long it lasts.
    Or should I not worry about it at all?

    • Olga says:

      Hi Furkan, this is a very good question, thank you. Overall, you don’t need to worry about it at all, especially if you by a ready-stretched pre-primed canvas. Although, there are some factors that can improve the durability of your canvas – make sure it’s properly primed before painting and varnished after. Also, keep your finished paintings away from very humid rooms. Otherwise, Canvas is a great and durable surface for painting that has been around for a quite long time. You can check out more info about canvas here

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