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View Full Version : What is masonite board?


Remaininlight
04-09-2007, 06:19 PM
Hello,I've just joined Wet canvas in search of knowledge.I am a Brit in Northern England and have just taken up painting after twenty five odd years of not doing so.I'm primarily interested in wildlife and animals but have been struggling to get fine detail ,such as fur in.The medium canvas I use break up the coat detail.I've looked at the a few sites such as Wet canvas that talk about masonite board but nobody in the UK has a clue what it is and it certainly doesn't seem to be sold at any of the local art shops(as few as they are) or on line brit art stores.Yet it seems readily available in the US.You'll have to forgive my ignorance as I'm really just getting to grips with the medium.I used to draw a lot as a youth but put art aside to follow a career.I now have the time to get back into art so I'm finding my way slowly around it all again after decadesof neglect.So any advice,particularly on what masonite from anyone who may know what the UK term is would be gratefully recieved-Thanks.

snoball
04-09-2007, 06:29 PM
Masonite is the brand name of a fibreboard also called hardboard and fiberboard. It is used by artists, builders, etc. I usually buy it from a building supply in 4' x 8' sheets and sand and gesso it for painting. If you can't find it there though and want to use canvas here is how I prepare a fine surface canvas for detail work. Apply at least 2 coats of gesso with the side of a credit card, smoothing out any ridges, sand well and give it another coat of gesso with the credit card and sand again. If this is not smooth enough to suit you you can give it another. Then give it a coat of titnaium white oil paint thinnly and let that dry. You now have a surface that should help you create any amount of detail. HTH

Remaininlight
04-09-2007, 06:49 PM
My thanks Snoball.Answered as easy as that.There are DIY stores near me that sell wood and I would guess hardboard as well.I'm not sure if they will cut it but I think there are some builders yards that do.Either that or buy a circular saw.Does it warp with age or heat?I can order Gesso off my website.Good idea with the credit card on canvas though,I may try that.I'm very gratefull.Kind regards.

idylbrush
04-09-2007, 06:54 PM
Snoball has you heading in the right direction. My only suggestion would be to bypass the oil base white titanium paint. Oils generally can go over acrylics but acrylics don't much care for going over oils. They don't bond well and can lead to a tenuous hold that might fail.

If you want to put down a layer of white, my suggestion would be to use the titanium white acrylic based pigment especailly if you are working in acrylics.

rassilier
04-09-2007, 06:58 PM
The only problem with hardboard is that it can be broken or chipped if not handled properly. The thicker the better. Mostly it is cradled or framed once the art is finished. This will protect it.

One more thing...most artists buy the un-tempered board, as the tempered one has oils and resins and such which could leach upwards. The un-tempered board is the lighter of the two. Color, not weight.

snoball
04-09-2007, 06:59 PM
I usually buy the tempered type which is not bad to warp unless you store it where it gets damp. Of course you wouldn't want to do that with any painting anyway. Cut in smaller sizes there is no worry. When I buy a sheet I have my husband cut it into sizes that I normally use - 12x16, 16x20, 8x10, etc, Any that is left over I cut into small sizes for minis. Hobby stores also have small sizes of masonite with gesso already on them but usually only in about 8x10 sizes.

snoball
04-09-2007, 07:00 PM
Snoball has you heading in the right direction. My only suggestion would be to bypass the oil base white titanium paint. Oils generally can go over acrylics but acrylics don't much care for going over oils. They don't bond well and can lead to a tenuous hold that might fail.

If you want to put down a layer of white, my suggestion would be to use the titanium white acrylic based pigment especailly if you are working in acrylics.
Duh, I just realized that he was talking acrylic. Of course leave off the oil paint. That is what I use if I am going to put an oil painting on it. With acrylic you won't need anything more than the sanded gesso.

snoball
04-09-2007, 07:02 PM
The only problem with hardboard is that it can be broken or chipped if not handled properly. The thicker the better. Mostly it is cradled or framed once the art is finished. This will protect it.

One more thing...most artists buy the un-tempered board, as the tempered one has oils and resins and such which could leach upwards. The un-tempered board is the lighter of the two. Color, not weight.
I do use the tempered. I sand it and gesso it and have never had any problem with any leaching.

Alison2
04-09-2007, 07:15 PM
Remaininlight,

I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing Masonite is like MDF as we know it in the UK! That's what I paint on with no problems. I buy it buy the panel for about 7 from B&Q or Homebase etc., and they will usually make two cuts for free, which gives me four pieces of about 12 x 18. Sand it down, gesso, sand again, gesso again and you're off! I've had no problems with warping.

Alison2:wave:

maverick
04-09-2007, 07:16 PM
Finish (not construction grade) plywood is a good alternative also. 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch thick (3.25 mm to 6.6 mm ?). I buy the handy sized panels and cut them smaller on my table saw. One side is very smooth veneer to which I apply gesso. Make sure your DIY associate makes the cuts accurately if you want standard sizes. You want the frame to fit!

snoball
04-09-2007, 07:30 PM
Remaininlight,

I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing Masonite is like MDF as we know it in the UK! That's what I paint on with no problems. I buy it buy the panel for about 7 from B&Q or Homebase etc., and they will usually make two cuts for free, which gives me four pieces of about 12 x 18. Sand it down, gesso, sand again, gesso again and you're off! I've had no problems with warping.

Alison2:wave:
Actually the MDF is probably a better choice than the masonite. It is the fiber sandwiched between two veneers and is less likely to warp.

Remaininlight
04-09-2007, 07:30 PM
Thank you one and all for the advice.I would have missed that about the untempered board,I'm very grateful.I did not realise there were that many types of board available so I'll have a good look at the DIY stores tomorrow.Nor did I realise that you could paint on them."Masonite " sounded like such a high tech name.There are canvas boards available to buy but they gave me the same problem as ordinary stretched canvas,ie loss of detail. Over here Masonite is just called plain boarding I think.When I started to ask you'd have thought from the looks I was getting I'd asked for Kryptonite!
I did not realise it was such a popular medium to paint on until I started reading some of the comments posted here.Thanks for setting me in the right direction,your guidelines are most helpful.Now I must go to bed,its getting rather late in the UK!Regards.
PS.I like your pet portraits particularly Snoball particularly the Black Lab.I'll comeback and have a really good look around tomorrow which is already here if I don't go to bed soon!.

CamiTampa
04-09-2007, 11:57 PM
Masonite is dark brown in color. Rough on one side and dead smooth on the other. It is mostly used as backing on furniture and cabinets. I use it alot in projects I build and have never seen it thicker than 1/4 inch. It is very flexible. A 4 X 8 sheet can be bent nearly in two before it cracks.

Hope that helps
Cami

dbclemons
04-10-2007, 11:29 AM
Tempered hardboard is stronger than MDF or plywood of the same thickness. Hardboard can also be made from quality woods like aspen, whereas MDF is almost always a lower grade wood. The amount of oil used for tempering is very small and baked in (sometimes no oil at all, just resin,) but if you use an acrylic size and primer, you have even less worry. Sanding it will help the size or primer to stick better, but it's not absolutely necessary. The type of resin used is typically urea formaldehyde, so sand with caution. Not all hardboard is rough on only one side (S1S; ) some is smooth on both sides (S2S.)

Remaininlight
04-10-2007, 12:36 PM
My thanks to everone for their advice.My local B&Q did have loads of it.Alison,you were spot on by calling it MDF in both 1/4 and 1/8 sized sheets.There were a variety of different types so I bought a mixture as it was cheap enough to buy.Unfortunately they no longer cut it there so I bought a circular saw to do it with.It seemed the best option if I want to cut up different sized pieces myself.I have been working with a large 24" by 18" medium stretched canvas as it seemed the easiest for the pictures I have done but I may go smaller now.I've ordered the white gesso today to prime it with.Is it a good idea to mix the gesso with black acrylic or burnt umber on a first coat,or sand it then apply an off white base?And should it be brushed or sprayed-I have a compressor and car sprayer gun?Mean while I will get back to my latest dog.Any hints and tips appreciated.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Apr-2007/105446-2006_0304snowinsheba0009.JPG

Charlie's Mum
04-10-2007, 12:54 PM
Remaininlight- welcome from another Northener!

I can get off-cuts from a local, small, DIY rather than go to B&Q, who are expensive ...... I'm talking coppers! Have a smallish independant DIY near you? Pieces of plywood, MDF - not too thick - make good drawingboards too.

Just paint your gesso on - no need to spray unless you wish to.

Mix a colour if you prefer to paint on a coloured gound - or for underpainting too.

Take a look at our Information Kiosk top of the main forum page - it has lots of useful stuff there, plus Classroom threads. ...... there's also a tips thread there (and it's floating around on page one of the forum at present if you have any to share!).

Nice Alsatian! ....... just needs the highlights highlighting!!!!!!!! :D

His forehead looks a little flat though - you could check the anatomy of his head I think.

Remaininlight
04-10-2007, 02:41 PM
Hello Charlies Mum,another Northern on an American website-its a very small neighbourhood on the internet!I'm over by the Pennines,the countryside is wonderful for walking so the dogs like it!Your right about the head.Like most long haired alsatians there is a thick short coat under long fine black hairs and its really difficult to get the feel right.The longer black hairs come out about half an inch further and are tough to get right on the canvas,hence my question about painting on another medium for fine detail.There are some cracking portraits around but I couldn't understand how they managed such accuracy with the coats,and now I know.Thanks for your tips.I'll get a couple of hours in now before the last episode of "Life on Mars" comes on tele!!

timelady
04-10-2007, 04:14 PM
Welcome to WC! :)

I used to paint on MDF and most of the big chains at the time (this was a few years ago though) used to have a bin of offcuts. Even then they didn't mind doing one or two cuts for me. So if you don't mind too much about exact sizes that can be a good way to go. Sometimes I'd find big pieces, sometimes long skinny pieces... you never know.

If you want a white background I'd suggest getting acrylic gesso. Do a few coats and sand the final layer to get a nice flat smooth surface. The black sandpaper (glass paper?) works well as a final sander.

Tina.

CamiTampa
04-10-2007, 11:56 PM
Masonite and MDF are not the same thing. In Europe Masonite is known as Isorel.

Masonite is wood fibers bound only with pressure and steam. MDF has glue as a binder.

Cami

dbclemons
04-11-2007, 10:54 AM
There's a Swedish company that uses the Mason process to create fiberboards, Masonite AB (http://www.masonite.se/). Their list of retailers shows a place in Kent (http://www.panelagency.com) you might want to look at.

Remaininlight
04-11-2007, 12:00 PM
Thanks for all the advice, there is a wealth of it here.I'm getting the hang of the site slowly and have even managed to update my profiles and make a virtual gallery.There's such alot of talent here on Wetcanvas it is all a bit overwhelming!!!I'm rather glad I didn't know what masonite was in the end!http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Apr-2007/105446-2006_0306snowinsheba0005.JPG
Starting to bulk out Sheba now with colour and detail.

vhere
04-11-2007, 12:54 PM
be careful sawing that MDF - you need a mask - it's very very bad for the lungs - a carcinogen. I think it's the glue.
B&Q will cut it to size for you (you have to buy a big sheet but it isn't too expensive) - they have the extractor fans and safety equipment.

When you prime MDF or hardboard (which is the same thing as masonite) put a cross from corner to corner on the back with the primer - it won't warp then, We were taught to do this at uni.

If you aren't painting to sell, old emulsion paint primes it quite well! that's what we used in the early days at college. I'm not recommending it for archival qualities or for using later on, but when you are starting out it works very well and 14 years down the line the works are fine.

Remaininlight
04-11-2007, 01:25 PM
Thank you VERY MUCH for that warning V!!!!I did not realise.That will go for the sanding as well!!!!!I have an old breathing mask from spraying anyway and will update the filters(if I can still get them).Otherwise its a new mask!
Fortunately I have not cut anything yet as I am working on the canvas and waiting for the gesso to arrive.Doesn't anything try and kill you with subtle poisons these days!Unfortunately my local B&Q no longer cuts wood(now I know why) so guess I shall have to be very careful instead.Marvelous landscapes,very rich and moving.I walk almost everyday through the woods here and these last few months have grown to love the subtlies of the seasons.When I hear the Chiff-chaffs I know spring is here.

Charlie's Mum
04-11-2007, 06:37 PM
There's a thread in the Information Kiosk about the various supports for painting - all explained by Einion - it's worth reading it :D

I think he said MDF has formaldehyde in it - bad! .... but it's easily checked in the IK :D

Debbie-Cotswold
04-16-2007, 06:29 PM
i'm new to painting and had the same problem with not being able to paint detail because of textures.
I now buy 'Art boards', a hard board which has a frame on the back to stop warping, and that also makes a thick board which looks like a chunky canvas, so its ready to hang straight away.
It has no texture so details look great.
Its made in the USA, and is available through Lawrences in the UK.