Using Panels: Tempered Vs. Untempered

The folllowing editorial in this post is copied from the Jack Richeson website. Richeson makes gesso painting panels and answer questions about using tempered boards versus untempered:

For centuries, artists have been painting on a variety of surfaces from stone to wood to canvas – the possibilities are unending! Today, artists commonly use a surface we know as hardboard as a substrate for their work. This material has sparked unending debates on the value of tempered vs untempered hardboard for use by artists.

Before entering into the discussion you must first understand… What is hardboard? What is Tempered hardboard? Hardboard, which is also called high-density fiberboard, is a type of engineered wood. It is similar to particle board in the way it is manufactured, but it is much denser, stronger and harder. Unlike particle board, hardboard will not split or crack. Hardboard can be manufactured to be either tempered or untempered. Tempered hardboard is hardboard that is thinly coated with linseed oil and then baked. This makes it harder, more rigid, more water- resistant and increases its tensile strength.

The Manual of Painting Materials and Painting Techniques by Mark Gottsegen states that both tempered and untempered can be used for painting purposes. At Richeson, we offer both tempered and untempered. Untempered is a lower cost option, attractive especially at the university level and for value-priced finished pieces. Many professionals lean towards tempered panels as their preferred choice. The belief is that the tempering process results in a stronger panel with less warping.


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