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daveshattuck
11-29-2001, 09:16 AM
i was recently reading the information on using masonite instead of canvas. does anyone know the long term implications? will it last shorter or longer than canvas? artists of the past have painted on board; what type board did they use? any answers will be greatly appreciated. thanks in advance for your help.
dave

paintfool
11-29-2001, 11:02 AM
Hi Wildash, if you are painting with oil it might be best for you to post this question in the oil forum. We have many discussions on supports in there!
Cheryl

Fagan
11-30-2001, 04:37 PM
I love painting on masonite...especially for florals or still life. I usually put 3-4 coats of gesso sanding between each coat unless I am building up a texture. Be sure each coat is dry before applying the other. I believe this will hold up as long as the board does. I dont think you will have as much cracking as you would with a pliable surface (canvas). I think there might be some chipping problems though. I have not had a painting long enough to know how well it will hold up (been painting in oil only for a few years). I do believe it is just as viable as painting on any other surface....it all has to do on the priming of the suface.

vallarta
11-30-2001, 06:10 PM
for most subjects masonite is better than canvas

ldallen
11-30-2001, 06:47 PM
I have some paintings that I did on masonite that are more than 30 years old and they are still in perfect condition. If I'm not mistaken, masonite has been used since the 30's (??) I've read all the pros and cons and I think the jury is still out in terms of longevity - 400 or 500 hundred years? - maybe, maybe not. You might want to search old WC forums on masonite - there's a lot about it in there.

Leopoldo1
11-30-2001, 08:13 PM
I don't think one surface is better than the other. Each have their qualities. Explore both, since they have tested the time of art! Obviously their is more spring to a canvas than a rigid board, both will produce different effects in brush control. Either one is fine for me and usually boils down to convienence at the time. EXPLORE and above all have fun in the journeys! :oL

jocelynsart
04-28-2002, 09:56 PM
Hi: Masonite is a great surface for oils! I learned to file the edges of the masonite so that they were rounded slightly. This will avoid the edge ever chipping up and into your painting. I used to prime it with good latex, something that has good adhesion qualities, and then wash it with an undertone in acrylic. A mix of burnt sienna and yellow ochre. This so you are not painting directly on starck white, unless you want to.
I have 2 framed masonite paintings I did 20 years ago and they are fine. You can even damp wipe the surface of the painting and it will not bother the surface. You can use oil or acrylic nicely on primed masonite. The smooth surface is great for glazing colour over colour as well as using the colour thickly. :cat:

Wayne Gaudon
04-29-2002, 06:25 AM
RE: Masonite and Board

Masonite won't warp as it is springy and the frame will keep it straight but most boards will warp with time.

As for Canvas & Masonite .. Leopoldo says it all.

Einion
04-29-2002, 04:52 PM
Dave, in oil painting a rigid support is unquestionably a better long-term proposition as oil paint films become increasingly brittle with age and a support that varies with environmental conditions is obviously at odds with this. All oil paintings crack but the effect is minimised the more stable the support, which can be easily shown by the fabulous condition of some old paintings on copper supports, which show very little of the types of cracks we associate with oil paintings. Panel paintings in the past were mostly painted on wood boards of many species: some single-piece, some made up of jointed boards and with various cradles, braces, bars and frames used as supports (with extremely varied results!) Paintings done on metal sheets, if they have avoided corrosion, are usually in very good condition.

Indicators are that hardboard (only hardboard, not MDF and similar and plywood) will age very well, especially if primed properly (both sides and all edges) and should last better than wood panels because it is more dimensionally stable. I think there was a similar type of board used as a support in the 19th century but I don't think it was really the same sort of thing. Hardboard as we know it has been around since 1924 and used as a painting support has stood up very well so far.

You might read comments that say because the quality of the raw materials used in hardboard manufacture vary so much (including a lot of cheap softwood scrap not much use for anything else) it can't be trusted, but the processing the pulp goes through is extensive and cleans a lot of the undesirable elements out and makes the end product very consistent, obviously. If longevity is a real concern and you want to use it, buy the more expensive varieties and if possible try to find dry-process boards as these have the best stiffness and are more dimensionally stable than the other types; thicker grades are also a good idea for the same reason, if weight is not a concern.

There are varied opinions on whether tempered or untempered hardboard is better but I think if you oil or alkyd prime tempered is the better choice and if you use any water-based priming untempered is the way to go.

Originally posted by jocelynsart
You can even damp wipe the surface of the painting and it will not bother the surface.
Jocelyn, I would strongly advise you not to wipe the surface of an oil painting with a damp cloth, whether varnished or not. Moisture should be kept away from oil paintings as much as possible for a great many reasons. Conservators and picture cleaners use as little water as possible when cleaning and they use Q-tips and clean areas about 1" square at a time!

Paintings should be dusted clean using a soft dry cloth or brush, using as little pressure as possible, the older the painting is the more important this becomes.

Einion

Luis Guerreiro
04-29-2002, 06:16 PM
Originally posted by Einion
(...) Indicators are that hardboard (only hardboard, not MDF and similar and plywood) will age very well, especially if primed properly (both sides and all edges) and should last better than wood panels because it is more dimensionally stable.
Einion

Hi Einion,
I find your comment on MDF very interesting. My findings are that MDF is one of the most stable supports for oil painting and is currently being recommended by most Arts people I know here in the UK. Nor far ago I saw a well known painter who recommended MDF.
I am interested in knowing why you find MDF unsuitable. Thanks in advance for your comments.
Regards
Luis :)

Einion
05-01-2002, 04:22 AM
Hi Luis, I had noticed the increase in recommendations of MDF of late, online and in magazine articles, and I'd wondered why, especially considering hardboard's many good properties, availability and track record. So if you don't mind let me answer your question with a question, what makes MDF the best choice?

Feel free to chip in anyone else that uses MDF, bearing in mind Dave's original query.

Einion

Linoxyn
05-01-2002, 10:45 AM
In MDF boards the fibers are held together mostly by means of a glue. Most glues have a very uncertain future. Hardboard is held together by the natural process of the wood fibers reformatting bonds through heat and pressure. It's true that there may be added resin or wax in some hardboards but they are in such small quantities and do not effect the stability of the board. Duron or hardboards made in the same process are by far the best. It does not matter if you use tempered or untempered for any media since the tempered has an extremely thin coat of tung oil as a sealer - easy to sand off.

I have gone back and forth a few times between linen and hardboard - for now I'm a big fan of hardboard. Time only knows what I will be using in the future.

Whatever you use the most important thing to keep on top of is the utmost in surface preparation. The support and ground is the key structure to a painting. The better it is the better potential for your painting - artistic as well as structural preservation.

JeffG
05-01-2002, 11:20 AM
Originally posted by wilddash1
i was recently reading the information on using masonite instead of canvas. does anyone know the long term implications? will it last shorter or longer than canvas? artists of the past have painted on board; what type board did they use? any answers will be greatly appreciated. thanks in advance for your help.
dave

Dave, there is a huge amount of information and heated discussion on wood, MDF and hardboard panels over on the Egg Tempera Society's site:

http://www.eggtempera.com/supports.html


This is an important topic to us egg-heads and is constantly being analyzed. There is even a subgroup of tempera artists (the traditional icon painters) who desire to use the same materials as medieval artists and use traditional panels crafted from hardwood (no masonite or plywood).

One thing to beware of when researching this topic is that many online sources will incorrectly use the terms "Hardboard", "MDF" and "Masonite" interchangeably.

Luis Guerreiro
05-02-2002, 04:14 AM
Originally posted by Einion
Hi Luis, I had noticed the increase in recommendations of MDF of late, online and in magazine articles, and I'd wondered why, especially considering hardboard's many good properties, availability and track record. So if you don't mind let me answer your question with a question, what makes MDF the best choice?

Feel free to chip in anyone else that uses MDF, bearing in mind Dave's original query.

Einion

Hi Einion, here is a MDF fact file which I prepared sometime ago:


MDF Stands for… MDF means Medium Density Fibreboard.
MDF is made of wood fibre compressed to a very high level. A pulp of woodfibre and resins is compressed up to 50 pounds per cubit foot of pulp.
What resins are used? Urea Formaldehyde Resin was used and still is, but because this resin is carcinogenic in nature, MDF is now used in LF and ZF varieties, meaning low-formaldehyde and zero-formaldehyde. A highly stable resin called POLYURETHANE is now often used as a replacement for formaldehyde to avoid health and environment issues.
How stable is MDF? A scientific measurement process has been used to test MDF. This method is called MOE (Module Of Elasticity). MOE measures the combined rate of strain+stress. To measure strain, pressure is applied on MDF at a rate of 1 million pounds per square inch. To measure stress, force is applied on MDF at a rate of around 1 million pound per cubic feet. The ultimate result of this test is to measure deformation and ultimate destruction rates of the MDF panel, hence the smaller the value, the higher the resistance rate. MDF rated at 0,53 MOE; being the best result against plywood rating at 1,2 MOE; oak rating at 1,55 MOE.
What does MDF look like? MDF is a completely flat and smooth surface on both sides and because of its stiffness, is the least prone to warping type of fibreboard panel. Its edges are clean and do not disintegrate. MDF is not affected in the least by atmospheric conditions such as temperature or humidity and therefore doesn’t expand nor shrink, remaining 100% stable.
SAFETY ISSUES FOR OIL PAINTING PURPOSES. Formaldehyde emissions can only be eliminated by coating MDF with solid add-on components, such as veneer woods, etc. Formaldehyde is present at a rate of 9% per weight and its emissions are only partially eliminated by coating the panel with primers and oil paints. Therefore, in order to benefit from the amazingly good properties of MDF for oil painting purposes, ONLY USE ZERO-FORMALDEHYDE MDF,or LOW-FORMALDEHYDE MDF (schools use this grade) which presents the same properties as normal MDF but without the health risks.
What are the Grades of Zero Formaldehyde MDF? The following grades are widely available from any timber specialist: MEDITE II and MEDEX are both free of carcinogenic components and are made by Medite Corporation. Both grades are available in the UK/Europe and America. Sizes available are 25 x 8 feet and thickness start at ½ inch, ¾ inch, 1 inch, etc, upto 2 inches thick. MDF is very heavy providing a warp-free surface to work on. Low-Formaldehyde MDF is also safe to use, it is manufactured to highest standards as it is the grade used by schools in Europe where Formaldehyde emissions are regulated by European Law to the toughest standards of health and safety.
How to treat MDF for oil painting? Lightly sand both sides, and prime with either traditional methods or acrylic primer on both sides and edges. MDF also takes oil modified primers without the need to size with RSG. Apply as many coats of primer as normal, sanding each coat prior to applying the next one. The last coat can be sanded lightly with the finest possible grain sandpaper and polished with a damp piece of cloth for a fine smooth finish.
What if I can’t find Formaldehyde Free MDF? MEDITE and other companies manufacture LF – Low Formaldehyde MDF which is so safe it is widely used by schools. This type of MDF is of a very high quality and is preferred for Artists purposes. It is available from any timber supplier normally but if it isn’t, it can be ordered as timber suppliers know about it and can get it easily. It is generally accepted that this type of MDF has less formaldehyde than a bottle of Coca-Cola, as timber suppliers said to me when we discussed this issue not so far ago.

I prefer MDF to Masonite because MDF have both sides smooth and also because MDF is rigid, far more rigid than Masonite, presenting an even lower warping rate.

Best regards

Luis :)

Linoxyn
05-02-2002, 11:19 AM
MDF is a dry process board and does not have much in the way of lignin to lignin bonding found in wet process boards. It is true that MDF can be produced in high quality, but does it have the properties an artist demands in a rigid support?

The Masonite, smooth one side, warped easily, edges chipped up should be a long forgotten choice of the artist. There can be found high end hardboard that suits our needs very well. Please read the Richard Davis "Hardboard -Tempered or Untempered is Not the Only Question" paper at the egg tempera web page that was mentioned by GeffG in this thread.

Hardboard, tempered or not, as long as it's high quality is closest to a solid wood in it's internal makeup than MDF. MDF rely on a glue to hold it together. I think it's more to our advantage to place more trust in the natural bonding of lignin than a glue.

Einion
05-04-2002, 05:40 AM
Jeff, Richard Davis's article certainly is a little gem (everyone who paints on manufactured boards go read it!) but I think the section on dry process board is a little misleading. My research showed that, by definition, it must use the reconstituted lignin bond as the primary adhesive in order to be classed as hardboard. This might one of the things that varies from plant to plant and some may add more binding agents than others, but to put this into perspective all hardboards have some additives of various kinds but it's like 1% total by volume, compared to maybe 25% resin for MDF!

There are three manufacturing methods for hardboard, wet-process, wet-to-dry and dry. Because the dry process does not need a screen to allow water runoff it produces a S2S board, smooth two sides, which is another benefit for the artist as both sides can be painted on, which might prove useful (the wet-to-dry process can also produce S2S board so this alone will not indicate the manufacturing method, so do ask). In dry-process hardboard the fibres have a random three-dimensional orientation which gives it greater stiffness, whereas in wet-process and wet-to-dry process board the fibres are oriented in layers parallel to the surface which makes the board more flexible, good for some things but not for our purposes. You might read that the smoother surface of the wet processes is better to paint on but this for our purposes the microstructure of dry process board will form a better mechanical bond with a primer.


Thanks for the thorough response Luis. Let's consider the properties that a good panel material for artistic use should possess. My list, in approximate order: dimensional stability and resistance to warping, longevity, suitability for primer of choice, cost, ease of handling and availability. For some longevity would be lower on the list, or perhaps even absent, and ease of handling might not be an issue for others, but I think almost everyone would agree that the other points should be universal. Let's see how they compare.

Dimensional stability and resistance to warping
MDF certainly has very good physical characteristic, as its MOE and MOR numbers show. It is superior to hardboard in these respects but compare the numbers for the same thicknesses.

Suitability for primer of choice
Primers bond to both well. MDF has the edge over wet and wet-to-dry process hardboard.

Longevity
Ah there's the rub. The vast majority of MDF is produced using formaldehyde-bearing adhesives, urea-formaldehyde (UF) accounting for something like half of total production, phenolic-formaldehyde (PF and LPF), melamine modified urea-formaldehyde (MUF) with other types accounting for only 9% of production. UF 'outgasses' formaldehyde as it ages, I think the others containing formaldehyde do too. Purely in terms of longevity for a painting support not only does this show the adhesive is changing in some way but having an organic solvent percolating through the paint film can't be good!*

While MDF produced using a bonding agent without formaldehyde sounds like a better idea you enter unknown territory as without any longevity research or any long-term history of its use as pointers to future performance it might actually be counterproductive. And remember the proportion of resin in MDF are higher the stronger and more moisture-resistant the grade, so here again one might be aiming for a benefit and actually getting a worse result.

Much safer I think to rely on the wood fibres' own bonding agent which has shown it has a good long-term prospects.

Cost
Hardboard should be cheaper than MDF.

Ease of handling
Here are other advantages to hardboard. The artist can cut it in the studio with a straightedge and a heavy craft knife (not easy but doable) and this alone could could be a deciding factor for some. I know MDF is available in the same thicknesses as MDF but it is most common at 1/2" and above and this requires sawing. And in terms of weight MDF's superior strength comes at another cost: at up to double the density of hardboard and often much thicker it starts to get seriously heavy for any large sizes.

Availability
About the same, depending on local suppliers. Formaldehyde-free MDF however is almost certainly not as easily available.

Anyone who wants to do more research into this should look for a copy of Evaluating The Properties Of Wood-Based Fiber And Particle Panel Materials American Society for Testing and Materials. 1988. ASTM D1037-78 which apparently is a bit of a bible on the subject.

So altogether, for the time being my money would still be on hardboard. Now, I wonder which metals are worth investigating as options... :D

Einion

*Please note, the formaldehyde given off by any MDF you might store in your studio is not a health issue since most American homes use extensive amounts of bonded wood products - plywood, OSB, glulam, LVLs, etc. - that use the same adhesives (UF is the cheapest glue of its type which is why it is so prevalent) so any fumes given off by one's panels is inconsequential by comparison! However be very careful of the dust if sawing or sanding it.

Scott Methvin
05-04-2002, 10:26 AM
You guys know alot about masonite type boards. Ampersand makes a product called clayboard. Does anyone know the specs and reputation of this item?

I am experimenting with it, by putting my good gesso on top. It seems like quality stuff. I usually use basswood plywood or marine mahogany. For this project, I am silkscreening and then oil painting over the seriograph. Lots of panels make a store bought panel desirable.

Is it MFD?
What is the clay composition?
Anyone have experience using for oil painting?

Thanks.