How To Gesso Wood Panels For Oil Painting

I’ve been working on wood panels for almost a year, exclusively with oil paints. The first batch of panels I purchased were pre-primed with Gesso and I absolutely loved the working texture of them. I like a smooth surface to work on with a tiny bit of grip for the painting to latch on to.

After some research, I realised that it was more cost-effective to purchase my own wood panels that I can prime myself. This was great because I was in control of exactly how much texture I wanted on my painting surface.

So, I went to the local wood cutters and enquired about MDF panels. The shopworker said yes, great we can cut them down to size for you, but you’ll need to purchase the entire wood panel (around 3 metres in length by 2 metres across).

After I worked out the relevant sizes that I would need cut, I placed my order and ended up with around 60 wood panels which should last me quite some time.


  • Wood panel
  • Gesso (I use white Gesso by Winsor & Newton)
  • A cheap roller
  • A cheap paintbrush

I dip the roller straight into the Gesso tub and begin rolling onto the panel. I don’t go too thick with this, just an even coat all over, usually rolling in the same direction. I do the sides too using my paintbrush.

I let that dry for about an hour or so then I get some fine grade sandpaper and wrap it around a spare piece of wood and lightly sand it down. Be sure to wear a mask and do this outside or in a ventilated area as Gesso particles are now exposed into the atmosphere.

I apply a second layer and roll the Gesso on in the other direction in a small quantity making sure that I get a good coverage. I also add another layer on the sides, I then wait until it’s dry and then give it a gentle sanding.

I repeat this process another three more times and on the final layer, I don’t sand down the board as I feel that the tooth with the slight bit of texture is ideal for my painting.


I usually wait for a few days before I begin painting with oils, just to let the Gesso really settle onto the wood.






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