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All Things Ampersand

Ampersand 101: Gessobord

Welcome to the second installment in our series of “101” articles about Ampersand Bords.  With many new artists beginning to use our panels, this back-to-basics series will help to introduce and distinguish between our different surfaces, as well as provide a refresher course to you Ampersand veterans. In this article, we are going to look at our most popular product – Gessobord.


Ampersand’s Museum Series Gessobord is by far the most trusted pre-gessoed wood panel by artists when choosing a substrate for their work. The professional quality, acid-free, true acrylic gesso ground is lightly textured for good adhesion.

Designed specifically for use with oil and acrylic paints, gessobord is delicate enough for glazing, fluid brush strokes, portraits and tight detail work, but also tough enough for palette knife painting, collage and masking techniques. Gessobord holds heavy applications of paint without the “bounce” of canvas. This makes Gessobord the perfect art panel for all painting styles, from oil paints to acrylics to mixed media.

Gessobord is bright white, allowing your colors to remain vibrant and true. The gessoed surface has a lightly sanded, semi-smooth surface texture that allows for precise brush control and even tonal values without distracting from your image, while providing enhanced clarity of color. The coating is 88% thicker than other gessoed panels on the market and has just enough absorbency for excellent paint adherence.

In addition to a 1/8” flat panel, Gessobord is available in 3/4”, 1 1.2” and 2” cradle profiles that offer more flexibility for hanging and framing your work. Only Ampersand builds their cradles by hand with premium-grade, 13-ply birch plywood for maximum stability and a clean, finished look from edge to edge. The cradle can easily be painted or stained to complement the artwork or primed to wrap the image around the edges.

Gessobord is a part of Ampersand’s “Museum Series” No other painting panel on the market protects an artist’s work against damage from humidity and temperature changes like an Ampersand Museum Series wood panel. These panels are truly archival. Every Gessobord panel is protected by our proprietary Archiva-Seal barrier technology, the most advanced formula for sealing wood that prevents support induced discoloration. Because Ampersand’s panels are properly sealed, your work will remain acid-free.

And only Ampersand uses true high-density hardboard made from US grown and renewable Aspen wood fibers. Made with Ampersand’s 1/8″ True Artist Hardbord, the surface is acid-free and non-yellowing.  Ampersand’s panels have been tested under extreme conditions and are listed to last more than 200 years by the American Hardboard Association.

All Gessobord panels are eco-friendly, formaldehyde-free and proudly handcrafted in the USA – Buda, Texas (just outside of Austin), to be exact.


  • Ideal for oils and acrylics
  • Consistent surface response
  • Ability to stand up to rough application of paint
  • The slight tooth ensures that paint adheres to the Gessobord surface but is not interrupted in the middle of long passages or brushstrokes
  • Gessobord is eco-friendly and made from US grown renewable wood sources. The wood used to manufacture Gessobord, like in all of Ampersand’s Museum Series panels, is FSC Certified.
  • Gessobord is archival, pH neutral and acid-free. Only Ampersand protects your artwork by applying its patented two-stage Archiva-Seal coating between the hardboard and gesso layers.

Tips and Techniques:

Oil Paint

Oils can be applied on Gessobord™ in both very thin layers and with heavy impasto.

To thin oil paint, there are many commercially available mediums depending on your needs and preferences. A common medium is a 1:1 ratio of linseed oil and solvent. For washes, thin oil paint with solvent (such as OMS).

Always remember to paint “fat over lean”, meaning, start painting with less oil or medium and more solvent (ex: Gamsol) mixed with your paint than oil. Gradually mix in more oil with your paint as you move towards finishing the painting. This will ensure proper adhesion of the oil paint to the panel, promote bonding between paint layers, and help to prevent cracking and peeling of paint in the future.

If you need to work more quickly, try completing an underpainting in alkyd paints, finishing with oil glazes last. Or try using a faster drying alkyd medium.

For oil washes, try spirits to thin your paint such as Gamblin Gamsol.

Try using gel or wax mediums to add texture, body and light to your painting.

It is a good standard practice and rule of thumb to allow your oil painting to dry for at least 6 months before applying a varnish. Your painting may be ready to varnish sooner than 6 months however, depending on factors such as the type of medium you use and the humidity in your studio. To test the dryness of the paint, start by finding the thickest area, then try pressing a fingernail into that paint. If it gives, then it needs to dry longer, if it holds stiff against your pressure, then it is ready to varnish.

For oil paintings, a light coat of varnish such as Gamblin’s Gamvar is advised.


Keep a healthy supply of water on hand. Dirty water can compromise the clarity and color of the paints.

When thinning acrylics with water, be careful not to add too much. This can reduce the binding capability of the acrylic paints and tends to flatten out their sheen. It can also cause your paint to slide around on Gessobord’s surface as you’re painting.

With Gessobord, it is possible to paint in thicknesses ranging from thin washes to thick impasto. Try using various gel mediums for glazing and layering transparent colors.

For texture, use a textured medium or experiment with tools available to you such as color shapers, credit cards, or dried brushes.

For acrylic paintings, a light coat of varnish such as Golden® MSA UVLS, Golden Polymer UVLS varnish or Gamblin’s Gamvar is advised.


Gessobord™ also accepts a number of other mediums like casien, pencils, watercolors, oil pastels and also mixed-media techniques or collage. We do not recommend Gessobord for use with encaustic, but cold wax mediums are always okay to use.

Artists Tips:


2017 Fall Back to School Sale!

The Fall Back-to-School sale on Ampersand panels is going on now and runs through the end of September. Gessobord, Claybord, Scratchbord, our Artist Panel Series (Primed Smooth, Canvas Texture and Unprimed Basswood) and more on sale for up to 50% off at select retailers across the country.


13 comments on “Ampersand 101: Gessobord”

  1. Avatar Ellie Harold says:

    Question: Will unpainted areas of gessobord remain white or should I anticipate some color change over time?

    1. Avatar Dana Brown says:

      Hello Ellie,
      You should expect the surface to remain the same, if kept in consistent light and moisture conditions. Trapping moisture against the surface or leaning objects against the surface can increase the possibility for a tonal shift. The surface is acrylic gesso which has titanium dioxide for whitening and a binder of polymer dispersion. It would age the same as any professional-grade acrylic “gesso.”
      Thank you!Dana Brown

  2. Avatar Joyce says:

    QUESTION: If I underpaint in acrylics on gessobord, and then paint over this in oils, do I need to spray or paint any kind of medium or temporary varnish between those layers? (Between acrylic underpainting and oil painting on top)

    1. Avatar Dana Brown says:

      Hi Joyce, There wouldn’t be any need to spray or varnish between these layers. Keep in mind, however, that acrylic paint isn’t very porous, so oil paint sticks better to oil paint. Thanks! Dana at Ampersand

  3. Avatar Gina says:

    Would I be able to successfully apply a coat of epoxy (thin or thick) over this board?


    1. Avatar Dana Brown says:

      Yes you would. If you have questions about the appropriate size, necessary bracing or any other detail, please contact us at bords@ampersandart.com

  4. Avatar Maggy says:

    If I want to do a large painting 24″X36″, can I use the flat gesso board, or is it better to use the cradled so that it does not warp over time? I prefer the flat as I would like to have more framing options, but I also do not want any warping on a large size painting. What is your recommendation?

    1. Avatar Dana Brown says:

      Hi, The format you choose would depend on what your intended presentation would be for this work. If you’re planning on framing it in a traditional frame, the frame would give additional support to the panel. For that presentation, a flat panel would be better. If you’d like to display the work without a frame or in a floater frame, I would recommend a cradled panel. You are right that a flat panel allows you more framing options, so if that is what you’re after, a flat, uncradled panel would be my recommendation for you. Thank you!

  5. Avatar Magggy says:

    I would need two custom size boards of 8″X24″ each. If I buy a 16″X24″ and have the lumber yard cut it in half, will the edges fray? What is my best option to get a custom sized board without damaging the edges?

    1. Avatar Dana Brown says:

      Hello, Our flat, uncradled panels can be cut to size. Our recommended process can be found in our FAQ https://ampersandart.com/faq.php The most important details are to have the blade strike the coated surface first and pass through the back of the panel to minimize chipping. Then, clean up the edges with sandpaper. Keep in mind that you’ll lose a little of the measurement due to the cut. 16 divided by two is 8, but the blade thickness will take away about another 1/8″. Thank you!

  6. Avatar Deborah Trant says:


  7. Avatar Jeff says:

    I am a collage artist and my work involves a lot of gluing of paper that can cause tension on the surface I’m using that results in the surface warping. In your experience will this board resist warping or bending?

    1. Avatar Dana Brown says:

      Hello! Yes, this surface is great for collage. As a collage artist myself, I prefer Claybord with its even smoother surface, however. Also, cradled formats offer even more stability and a broader range of presentation options. Thanks!

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