View Full Version : Bamboo panels as painting surfaces

03-02-2019, 01:58 PM
I like to paint on rigid wooden panels made according to traditional technology. Usually I use lime tree panels with oak backside bars. They are reliable, but large sizes are prohibitively heavy and expensive. Sometimes I think about other possibilities.

Plywood here is often made with some cheap intermediate layers and unknown glues, so it isn't really reliable. MDF and HDF are too brittle even when they are totally new, they are definitely not good. Various aluminium composite panels are problematic both in terms of adhesion and or thermal and humidity stability.

Recently I bought a couple of chairs in Ikea, they are made of solid bamboo panels, like this ones (https://www.moso.eu/en/products/beam-panel-veneer/solid-panel). I was fascinated by the material: it has better humidity and temperature stability than most hardwoods, doesn't have to be strictly radial cut, is manufactured in large sheets, bamboo's longevity is proved by Chinese archaeological artefacts which are made from bamboo, including paintings made on bamboo strips.

What do you think of using bamboo panels as supports for painting?

03-02-2019, 03:06 PM
Looks like the same thing as those super-cheap bamboo cutting boards you can get for $5-10.

They warp and split pretty easily when used as cutting boards (under regular heat and water stresses), but I can't say how they'd fare without those... I wouldn't trust them for something I wanted to last decades, much less centuries.

The way I understand them to be produced is the same way flat horn products (Like knife hilts and razor scales) used to be... heated/steamed under pressure to make them flat, likely with some kind of stabilizer chemical forced into the pores by the pressure to make them hold shape longer... but I HIGHLY doubt it could ever be permanent.

Marc Kingsland
03-02-2019, 03:25 PM
I think mostly, the bamboo panels will stand or fall on whether the glue holds up. So not unlike plywood in that respect.

03-03-2019, 04:21 PM
If the bamboo panels are well engineered they should hold up great though I have never tried any plywood panels, just solid sheets. If they are just a single sheet of bamboo "lumber" they are very prone to cracking and not just where there are glue joints.

I had 4 brand new bamboo panels that were slightly less than 1/4" thick. They were made from single solid sheets butted on edge, not made with multi layered bamboo plywood. All four cracked in at least one spot within a month when exposed to the dry desert air where I live. Some cracked on glue joints, others in solid bamboo sections as well as glue joints. I tried but was unable to repair them. After trying to fix one, it broke in another place a few days later. All 4 were a total loss at $12+ each

If it is made like plywood with multiple cross grain layers, alternating 90 degrees to each other for each layer and assembled with a high quality water resistant adhesive, they should hold up quite well as long as you seal them against changes in moisture content on all sides. My problem was finding engineered bamboo plywood panels that I could afford so I was never able to test any. Premium Baltic Birch or even Maple multiply plywoods were significantly less expensive than bamboo plywood so I went that route. What looks to be the best material out there for making painting panels with, as well as building pochade boxes, easel trays and painting masts from, is Apple Ply. I still have not been able to find any Apple Ply - a hardwood plywood that is 100% hardwood, both inside and out with a higher layer count than even the best Baltic Birch plywood I could find. from what I have read, the Apple Ply may be the ideal wood surface to paint on. If I ever find any to test I will post it on WC.

03-04-2019, 09:55 AM
I'm starting to paint on 1/2 mdf. I'm surprised that you consider it brittle. It seems very strong and dense to me. Very difficult to break off even a little piece on the edges. It's much easier to break off a splinter from any plywood I have seen. And after being primed with stainblock primer on all edges and sides that mdf should last forever unless submerged in a swamp or burned or run over by a tank or..

but maybe there are different formulations of mdf.

This (very) pro artist, son of a pro artist uses mdf. This is a vid of how he prepares his panels. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iRNyBbrJX4

03-04-2019, 11:46 AM
Having just said the above.....I notice that my MDF panel smells. It's probably formaldehyde. I ran across this thread http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1376816. I think I'm going to go with Ampersand gesso boards or the artist fiber boards mentioned in the thread.

03-04-2019, 11:50 AM
Having just said the above.....I notice that my MDF panel smells. It's probably formaldehyde. I ran across this thread (http://http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1376816). I think I'm going to go with Ampersand gesso boards or the artist fiber boards mentioned in the thread.

Unfortunately MDF is problematic.

03-04-2019, 12:08 PM
Unfortunately MDF is problematic.
You csn try FR-4 fiberglass and Copper clad FR-4.

03-04-2019, 12:36 PM
You csn try FR-4 fiberglass and Copper clad FR-4.

To make a printed circuit board?

03-04-2019, 01:43 PM
I too find MDF rife with problems. It is my absolute last choice to use for a rigid support. I would only use it if I was unable to find something better such as tempered hardboard, hardwood plywood or ACM Panels.

Too thick and too heavy when thick enough to not be prone to breaking and warping.
Swells more than any other rigid support I have used when it absorbs moisture.
Warps more easily than tempered hardboard of the same thickness.
Cracks from impact more easily than any other rigid support I have used.

Ted Bunker
03-30-2019, 12:21 PM
I wonder if Bamboo flooring tiles would work. I guess it would depend on the finish, though auto body primer sticks to almost anything. Around here I can get 12x12" flooring tiles cheap, and no need to cut them from a big panel like MDF or Masonite.

For studies and pigment mixing experimentation...