Best Paper for Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paints are bold, bright, and brilliant! They work well on a variety of surfaces and can be used to mimic oil and watercolor paints. They also create a number of excellent effects that can only be achieved with acrylics. 

Interestingly, acrylic paints have only been commercially available since the 1950s! It took a while to perfect the paint’s solubility, pigmentation, and chemical composition but they’ve been a firm favorite since. 

Acrylic paint is water-soluble which allows it to be diluted and watered down. This is how you can create watercolor effects. 

When acrylic paints dry they lose their water solubility which prevents them from being wiped away. This is great for your artwork but not so great for your clothes! You definitely need to wear an apron or old clothes when you’re using acrylic paint. 

Acrylics are mostly used on canvas and wood, but paper is also a great surface for your paints. You do need special paper for acrylic paints. If you try to use printer paper or general paper you’ll notice a few issues. 

Best Paper for Acrylic Paint

Firstly, you’ll notice that the paper warps. This is because acrylic paints are quite wet, even when they’re not watered down. The more layers of paint you put onto the paper the more likely it is to warp. 

If you use the wrong paper for acrylic paint you’ll also notice bleed through. This will result in the paint showing through the sheet and potentially staining whatever is below the page. This could mean ruining another sheet of paper or getting paint on your table! Neither is ideal. 

To help you get the best paper for your acrylic painting, we’ve gathered together some excellent examples of acrylic paint paper. We’ve also put together a buyer’s guide to help you understand what to look for in paper for acrylic paint. 

OUR TOP PICK

Arteza Acrylic Pad A3 (297x420mm, 246lb/400g, 16 Sheets, Glue Bound) EU 2 Pack

There is so much to love about this painting paper! That’s why it tops our list.

First and foremost you get an enormous amount of painting space. The paper is A3 meaning it is 11.7” x 16.5”. You can do bigger projects, or you can trim it down for smaller projects.

We also love the fact that you get two pads for the price of one! Each pad has 16 sheets meaning you get 32 sheets in total. You pay less than $20 for these painting pads which means the cost per sheet is less than 50c!

The paper is bright, brilliant white. It’s an excellent background for your paints and truly allows the colors to shine. The paper is also acid-free which will help those colors stay bright for long periods.

The paper is cold-pressed and has a light tooth. It’s enough to receive the paint but doesn’t cause lots of feathering. It finds the Goldilock spot!

The sheets are held together with a glue binding. They are easy to remove for framing, sale, or stashing away out of sight if things don’t go so well!

There do seem to be a few reports of the pads being damaged during shipping. This is obviously not ideal, but it isn’t really a problem with the product itself.

Pros

  • 400gsm.
  • 16 sheets per pad.
  • 2 for the price of 1.
  • Light texture.
  • Easy to remove pages.
  • Brilliant white color.
  • Doesn’t warp or buckle.
  • No bleed-through.

Cons

  • Reports of damage during shipping

EDITORS CHOICE

Gel Pens for Adult Coloring Books, 30 Colors Gel Marker Colored Pen with 40% More Ink for Drawing, Doodling Crafts Scrapbooks Bullet Journaling

The first thing we love about this pad is that you get two for the price of one! Ok, so each pad only has 12 sheets so even with the extra pad you still get fewer sheets than some of the other options.

That being said, the paper is of excellent quality. It is 400gsm and stands up incredibly well to acrylic paints. It won’t buckle or warp with a large number of layers or the application of water.

The texture is light, nearly smooth, and ideal for acrylic paint. You’ll get wonderfully clean and straight lines on this paper. A number of reviewers mention the fact that they use this paper for professional work, which is a heck of an endorsement!

Another thing to love about this paper is that it is acid-free meaning your artwork will be preserved at its peak for much longer. It also has a natural white color to give your paints the chance to shine at their best.

The paper is spiral bound along the top edge which means that you can keep all your work together. If you are looking to remove your pages, it’s best to cut them out. The paper is so thick that tearing will damage the binding.

Pros

  • 400gsm paper.
  • Acid-free.
  • 2 pads.
  • Decent value for money.
  • Light texture.
  • Doesn’t warp or bleed. 

Cons

  • Pages are difficult to remove. 

BEST VALUE

Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Pad, Linen Finish, 9'x12' Glue Bound, 10 Sheets

Strathmore is well known in the painting and art industry for its high-quality papers and painting supplies. It has been used by professionals and amateurs alike.

This pad contains 10 sheets of 400gsm paper. You’ll definitely want to keep this paper for final pieces. After all, the cost per sheet here is much higher than the other options on our list.

You do have the option of buying 2, 3, or 4, packs however, the price leaps up ridiculously! A 2 pack will cost you over $100 which is nearly 10 times as much as a single pad.

If you do want to buy more than one pad, we suggest you just buy multiple single pads. You will literally save hundreds of dollars.

The paper has a ‘linen finish’ which basically means it has a very light tooth. It’s supposed to mimic the texture of canvas and does a fairly good job of this. Customers seem to be very happy with the tooth. It’s just right for acrylic painting.

The paper stands up well to layers upon layers of acrylic paint. It doesn’t buckle and doesn’t bleed through. It can cope with watered down acrylics as well as heavy-bodied acrylics.

Pros 

  • 400gsm.
  • Easily removable pages.
  • Light tooth.
  • Strong and stable under heavy media.
  • Acid-free.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Limited amount of sheets. 

RUNNER UP

Bellofy Painting Paper Pad - 9 x 12 in Ideal for Oil, Acrylic, Watercolor Painting - Paint Paper for Kids Cold Pressed Rough Finish Paper for Painting - 246 lB / 400 GSM Acrylic Paper for Painting

This paper is a bit of a universal painting paper. It’s suitable for oils, watercolors, and acrylics.

At 400gsm, it’s excellently thick and able to cope with many layers of paint and wet media without bleeding through. Many customers are satisfied with the way the paper stays straight and flat even when you water down your acrylics.

The paper is cold-pressed which means it has a little bit of a tooth but it’s not so rough that it will cause feathering or rugged edges.

The reverse page of each sheet seems to be much smoother and much better for acrylic paints. The duality is a fairly unique feature that definitely helps this paper perform well under a range of media.

Bellofy paper is acid-free and pH neutral which means that your work will be preserved for longer. Acid in paper tends to degrade pigments and dyes making them dimmer. You won’t get that with this paper.

There are 25 sheets of paper in this pad and they are attached using glue at the top. It seems to be quite difficult to remove the pages from the pad.

Some customers recommend that you cut along the top edge to avoid the risk of ripping the page.

On the upside, it does mean that the pages won’t fall out after a few flips and turns.

Pros

  • 400 gsm.
  • Relatively smooth texture.
  • Acid-free.
  • Able to manage watercolor, acrylics, and oils.
  • 25 sheets. 

Cons 

  • Pages are difficult to remove. 

RUNNER UP

Arteza Acrylic Paper Foldable Canvas Pad, 5 x 6.6 Inches, 20 Sheets, DIY Frame, Heavyweight Acrylic Paint Paper, 220 lb, 360 GSM, Acid-Free, Art Supplies for Painting & Mixed Media Art

This is a really interesting offering from Arteza. You’ll get a pad that includes 20 sheets of perforated and embossed paper that can be neatly folded into canvases. It’s a really interesting idea, but does it hold up?

Well, let’s look at the thickness first. At 360gsm it’s a little bit on the lighter side. The company claims that it can take the liquidity of acrylic paints without warping but some customers disagree. Some users found that the paper does warp under heavy-bodied acrylics which makes it unsuitable for professionals.

The main thing to remember about this product is that it is not professional grade. If you’re just getting into acrylics or you have kids that want to paint with acrylics, this pad is a great choice. It performs well enough with most mid-range paints and it can be displayed easily.

The paper is acid-free which should help to preserve your paintings a bit longer. You will still need to finish them off with a varnish or seal.

Ultimately, this is a cheap way to get canvas like paintings done. It doesn’t have the same texture and resistance as real canvas but it will look great when put up on the wall.

Pros 

  • Folds into a canvas.
  • Bright, true to life colors.
  • Bleed proof.
  • Acid-free.
  • Light texture. 

Cons 

  • Folding is fiddly!
  • Warps with heavy-bodied acrylics. 

Best Paper for Acrylic Paint Buying Guide

Here are the things you should consider when purchasing paper for your acrylic paint project. There are a few criteria your paper should meet to get the best results. 

Thickness

Paper thickness or weight is measured in gsm which stands for grams per square meter. Essentially it is a measurement of how heavy the paper is. Naturally the thicker to paper the heavier it is going to be. 

You might also see paper thickness listed in pounds rather than gsm. Again this is a measure of the weight of the paper rather than the weight of the sketchbook as a whole. We’re going to stick to gsm for this article. 

When looking for paper to use with acrylic paint, you’ll want to look for heavy-duty paper that has a gsm of around 400. Anything lower than that is likely to warp or bleed. 

Texture

Papers have a texture that is referred to as the tooth. This texture is created during the manufacturing process. Some manufacturing techniques create very smooth paper while others produce a rougher surface. 

Your three choices are hot press, cold press, and rough grain. 

Rough grain gives you a heavily textured surface. It’ll be bumpy and irregular which can make it incredibly difficult to get neat lines. 

Soft-press is the middle ground. It has a bit of texture but not so much as rough grain paper. The tooth is also more regular than rough grain paper.

Soft-press is fairly absorbent which means that you have to work quickly if you want to blend or layer your paint before it dries. 

Colors tend to be a bit muted or dimmed on cold press paper. This is because of the texture. Light is bounced off and diffused on the bumpy surface giving a dimmer light.

Hot-press is the smoothest paper. It is ideal for acrylic painting. Where ever possible, you want to go with hot-pressed paper. 

The smoothness of the paper highlights brushwork and allows you to get neat, straight edges. This is particularly important if you have a more graphic style. 

Hot-pressed paper also tends to be less absorbent which gives you more time to work with the paint. You’ll be able to blend, layer, and mix your colors before they settle into the paper. 

Sheets

Whether you buy loose paper or a sketchpad, you’ll want the best value possible. The best way to compare prices across a few potential items is to divide the cost by the number of sheets in the pack or pad. 

This will give you the cost per sheet. You can then directly compare the potential products using a single, objective figure. 

The issue is that we are sometimes taken in by the cheaper item even if it’s worse value. You don’t want to drop $10, $15, even $20 on a new sketchpad to realize that it only has 10 sheets. 

Another thing to be wary of is the number of sheets vs the number of pages. Sheets are the physical bits of paper in a pack or pad. Pages are counted as each side of the sheet. Therefore a pad with 50 sheets would have 100 pages. 

It’s important to remember that you may not be able to use every page because the paint may bleed or ghost through the paper. Also, if you plan on hanging the painting, you won’t want to have something on the other side. 

Binding

The binding refers to the way the sheets are held together. Some are stronger than others, some are more ergonomic than others. 

Spiral binding is probably the strongest form but it can get in the way if it’s down the side of the page. Even top spiral binding can be a bit of a hassle if you’re trying to work at the top of the page. 

The benefit of spiral binding is that it is strong and easy to flip through. Your page will always open flat because you can just flip the previous sheet over. 

Glue binding is usually a strip of glue applied to the top edge of the paper when it’s stacked with the rest of the sheets. This is easy to tear out but not the strongest way to hold your work together. 

Flicking through the sketchbook and turning pages over on themselves will usually cause the binding to crack and fail resulting in loose pages. 

Glue bound pads don’t have any spirals to get in the way of your work. They are much better for left-handers who usually have to flip spiral bound sketchbooks to work it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best medium for acrylic paint? 

Obviously, we’ve talked a lot about paper in this article. It’s a cheap, portable medium that can elicit some great acrylic paintings. 

It’s not, however, the best medium for acrylic paint. 

Canvas or wood is a better choice because they are, naturally, much thicker than paper. They don’t allow the paint to soak through which means that you have plenty of time to blend and layer your acrylics. 

Also, they tend to give a much brighter and more vibrant color than paper. Again, this is because they don’t absorb the pigments. Instead, they keep it sitting on and near the surface. 

Do I need to seal acrylic paint? 

That depends. Do you want to protect your painting for longevity? 

If your answer is yes then you will need to seal your painting. 

Sealing an acrylic painting essentially means applying a varnish. You can choose between glossy, satin, or matt finishes depending on your preference. 

In general, a sealer or varnish will protect your painting from dust, UV light, and yellowing. You apply the varnish when the painting is fully dry. You should always use a clean brush and pot to varnish your painting or you run the risk of contamination. 

WonderStreet is not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this article. However, we sometimes receive a referral fee from online retailers when our readers buy on their website after clicking from our website to theirs. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, which supports the operation of our blog and helps to keep all our content free for everyone. In any case, when we conduct our analysis, our intention and focus is to remain objective and unbiased at all times.

What’s your favourite Paper for Acrylic Paint? We’d love to hear from you... Please leave your comments below.

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