View Full Version : More Tooth Please

07-19-2007, 03:42 PM
Hi All.

I use acrylic gesso to prepare MDF for painting. However. I find it to smooth/slick.

Does anyone have any tips to increase the 'tooth' of the surface?

Thank you


07-19-2007, 04:24 PM
i'm looking for an answer i that too - i just messed up a painting playing around on smooth canvas- the paint just slid around - so back to the boards for me

07-19-2007, 04:28 PM
You could sand it a bit, or possibly it's the brand of gesso. I have used some gesso that's really plasticy and then others that must have more filler/chalk in them so have a bit more tooth. I usually sand my final layer anyway, to get rid of texture, but that also should bring up more tooth too if you sand lightly with a rougher sandpaper.

Keep in mind that more water in the layer going right on the gesso will be more slippery and absorb differently. I find doing my first layer with some medium if I want a 'watery' or thin layer works best in that case. :)


07-19-2007, 05:15 PM
I read somewhere (could even have been WC) about rubbing the gessoed surface with one of those green scrubber pads (Walmart's are blue) that are made for teflon pans. I tried that and it works great- creates tooth without adding texture.


07-19-2007, 06:03 PM
the answer is,pummice or wallfiller.
just a bit in your gesso.not to much ,it eats brushes!
i use it for acrylic on paper and oil on panels.
several people over at the plein air forum use the recipe of Marc Hanson.

07-19-2007, 06:22 PM
I use a paint roller to apply gesso on mdf. However, it gives a very fine pebbly texture some people may not like. I like it because it contrasts well and adds texture to my ultra smooth paint application and fine details. You can very faintly see it in this piece:

07-19-2007, 07:54 PM
You could sand it a bit, or possibly it's the brand of gesso. I have used some gesso that's really plasticy and then others that must have more filler/chalk in them so have a bit more tooth.


My thoughts exactly. Experiment with different brands. Some just dry downright slick.

I have found that Grumbacher gesso is good but hard to find, and Lascaux isn't too bad, but pricey.

I have been toying with the idea of adding marble dust to some "slick" gessoes to up the tooth a little. But not so much that it turns into modeling paste. You know, just a pinch...heh

maybe pulverizing some Tums tablets for the calcium carbonate dust..hmmmm...

Haven't tried it yet though.

07-19-2007, 10:26 PM
I have on occasion used a touch of rottenstone as a way to get a better tooth. Very little will do it. Don't over do it.

07-19-2007, 11:12 PM
I like to work on hardboard, but I also find them too smooth unless I use a small, synthetic sponge to apply gesso (4 coats, without sanding). I pat it onto the surface, donít push it around like a brush or the texture is wiped off. This process creates a nice texture that holds lots of paint.

07-20-2007, 05:39 AM
You might also consider applying the gesso and then pressing a piece of cloth into the surface. Remove it immediately and allow the gesso to dry. You will need to wash the cloth if you wish to reuse it. This will press a pattern into the gesso and give it a surface.

07-20-2007, 03:10 PM
Golden makes a product called Pumice Gel Medium in different grits from fine to rough. I like the fine Pumice Gel Medium and mix some of it in with my acrylic gesso to give it more tooth when dry. I also mix in just a bit of black acrylic paint to tint the gesso to a light gray, which I prefer to paint on. I brush this gesso/gel mix onto the painting surface and allow it to dry thoroughly before adding any additional coats of the gesso mix. You can sand it if you wish once it is dry, but this sort of defeats the purpose of adding the pumice gel to the gesso to get a toothy surface.

You can use a rather fine brush to get a smooth but toothy surface with this mix. But if you would like your painting surface to have a bit more texture to help mimic the look of oil painting, you can use a coarse bristle brush and apply the gesso mix with swirling, painterly strokes and let it dry with those visible stokes. When you paint with your acrylics over this surface, the swirling and texture of the gesso layer will still show and make your acrylic paint seem more like an oil painting (if that's what you like).

You'll have to experiment to find the right gesso/pumice-gel ratio to get the roughness or texture you like for your painting surface. Add a bit of water to thin it to a good brushing consistency. When it's dry it should feel like fine sandpaper. It is a great surface for helping to pull that acrylic paint off your brushes. It is a bit hard on brushes but not unlike painting on a canvas surface. I wouldn't use expensive sable brushes on this surface, but I don't use them with my acrylic paints anyway.

I've used this gesso and pumice gel mixture as my preferred gesso for prepping my painting surfaces whether for acrylic painting or for oil painting.


07-20-2007, 03:32 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions.

I tracked down the Marc Hanson formula. But I did not have any pummice.

I substituted 'Ceramic Wall Tile Grout Powder' in its place. Works a treat.

I put 3 teaspoons (level) in about 250ml of gesso.

All I have to do now is find time to paint.


07-20-2007, 05:40 PM
You can also usually find bags of ground chalk at a hardware store. It's called something different for art, can't remember!, used for printmaking, but it's just the same ol' thing - chalk. Some of that added should give some tooth but without the heavier texture of marble dust or pumice.

Oh, it's called 'whiting' by printmakers I think. My brain is gone....