A wood panel may look like, well, a piece of wood. But a quick stroke of its surface can immediately make apparent the careful cutting and sanding processes that make a top-quality panel worth investing in. In fact, you should approach any wood panel product as you would a stretched canvas and consider how the finish might affect your preferred medium. Our picks will help you narrow your options.
1. U.S. Art Supply Birch Wood Paint Pouring Panel Boards
Made of raw birchwood, these panels are super smooth and finely sanded. They are built with a deep cradle—3/4 inches, to be exact—making them perfect surfaces for resin and acrylic painting, as you won’t have to worry about sagging or warping. The sides are also even, so you can let your paint flow off the edges, but they also won’t be ruined by adhesives, if you prefer to use tape to cover the sides. Sturdy and uniformly made, this is also an excellent option for wood burning or mounting artworks.
2. Woodpeckers Premium Baltic Birch Plywood
Made of extremely durable lumber from Russia, this beautiful plywood is an ideal choice for anyone shaping wood. Each piece boasts a smooth and clean surface that cuts with precision, with little sanding needed before use. Whether you are operating a saw, a laser engraving machine, or a CNC router, the material is resistant to splitting; it actually carves like a solid block of wood. Each piece shows consistency in quality, with no warping and few knots.
3. Juvale MDF Board
Made of compressed wood fibers, these medium-density fiberboard panels are slightly more dense than plywood. They are a very versatile material that holds up to moisture, heat, and pressure. These are light brown, thin, and easy to sand to your preferred texture, and you can use them for acrylic paint pours, encaustic painting, sign making, miniature sculpture—the sky’s the limit. Enjoy your creative process without worrying about buckling, warping, or accidental breakage.
4. Ampersand Art Supply Wood Painting Panel
If you prefer a pre-primed option, we recommend this well-made wood panel from art board experts Ampersand. Coated with a thin layer of white acrylic gesso, the veneer appears like canvas material but provides a much stronger painting surface. There is a slight texture, but this is a relatively smooth panel (add your own gesso for more tooth). It’s admittedly a costly product, but it takes paint very well and can withstand heavy brushwork without sagging or stretching. Because the sides are white and smooth, you can hang your finished masterpiece as is.
5. Pro Art Hardboard Panel
This board feels similar to heavily compressed cardboard, as it is structured but has a bit of flexibility. Lightweight and smooth, it’s a simple tool to use as a portable workstation for sketching and painting and can double as a mixing palette. It’s also a particularly effective board to use for stretching watercolor paper, as the surface resists warping, to help you prevent sheets from deforming and buckling.