12 Best Papers For Oil Painting: Cheap, Durable Choices In 2022

Best Papers For Oil Painting: Cheap, Durable Choices

When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. For more information on how we conduct reviews, click here.

While oil paints don't work well on paper, they are available at a competitive price, so you can practice your oils without spending too much. In this roundup article, we reviewed the 12 best papers for oil painting. It also discusses what you need to know before buying oil painting paper, why you should use them, and how to prepare them for oil painting.

Our Top Picks

Fredrix 3501 Canvas Padscheck price button

Best Overall - Fredrix 3501 Canvas Pads

• Acrylic titanium primed surface
• Acid-free cotton canvas paper
• Medium weight

Arches Oil Paper Padcheck price button

Runner Up - Arches Oil Paper Pad

• Sized with gelatin
• 300gsm paper
• 100% cotton

Best Budget - Bellofy Oil Painting Paper

• Works for multiple media
• Lightly textured
• 400gsm paper

1. Fredrix 3501 Canvas Pads - Best Overall

Fredrix 3501 Canvas Pads
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Acrylic titanium primed surface
  • Acid-free cotton canvas paper
  • Medium weight
  • Space-saving size
  • Textured
  • Inconsistent quality
  • Patchy result
  • Expensive

What Customers Have to Say

Many artists can't believe the quantity and quality of this canvas pad. Artists need to tape the canvas paper on a rigid surface to get the best results without buckling. Some artists even mounted it on Masonite for showing and found the results excellent.

Fredrix 3501 Canvas Pads

Why We Think It's Great

Fredrix 3501 Canvas Pads are the perfect surface for any oil painting project. The acid-free cotton canvas provides a professional look and feels, while the titanium primer allows your colors to pop. These pads are perfect for on-the-go artists with a medium-weight and space-saving size.

It feels like a stretched canvas, has a rough-textured surface, and is the best option for canvas boards. This brand has several sizes, but it is 12x16 inches, with 10 sheets.

Who Should Buy It

This medium texture canvas pad is best for students who need to mimic the texture of the actual canvas without the extra expense. The gesso-primed surface is also best for newbie artists who want to paint immediately instead of working on the boring gesso priming part.

2. Arches Oil Paper Pad - Runner Up

Arches Oil Paper Pad
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Powerful oil barrier
  • Sized with gelatin
  • 100% cotton
  • 140lb/300gsm paper
  • Soft texture
  • Too dry
  • Lumpy surface

What Customers Have to Say

Customers love this oil paper pad from Arches, vowing to buy more since the pad met their satisfaction. Some artists tape it on MDF, so it does not warp when the paint dries on it. The quality won't disappoint you.

Why We Think It's Great

Arches Huile Paper is perfect for anyone who wants to use oil paints without priming the surface. The manufacturer applied gelatin to form a powerful barrier, so the paper reduced absorbency. The paper is also nice and soft, providing you with a fantastic canvas-like texture without the expense of canvas.

The 100% cotton pulp paper is thick enough to extract oil paints. It feels like canvas and does not need priming to use it immediately. Each sheet measures 9x12 inches, top-bound at 12 sheets per pad. The paper weighs 140lb (300gsm) and is acid-free, so it suits your oil painting practice works.

Who Should Buy It

For artists looking for a perfect alternative to the expensive canvas and canvas panels, the Arches Oil Paper Pad is the best choice. Also, if you're not a fan of waiting for the primer to dry, better pick up this oil paper pad.

3. Canson XL Series Oil and Acrylic Paper Pad

Canson XL Series Oil and Acrylic Paper Pad
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Bleed-proof canvas paper
  • No need for priming
  • 136lb/296gsm acid-free paper
  • Fold-over cover protects the sheets
  • Affordable
  • Looks like ordinary cardstock
  • Not thick to hold up paint
  • Warps when dry

What Customers Have to Say

Many artists who just started with oil painting loved the result of their work on this paper. Even those who do mixed media projects find this paper very pleasant to use. 

Canson XL Series Oil and Acrylic Paper Pad

Why We Think It's Great

You won't ever need to prime your canvas with the Canson XL Series Oil and Acrylic Paper Pad with a no-bleed surface so that the oils do not bleed to the other side. Your paintings will look done on canvas instead of on paper.

Since the paper is acid-free, you can keep your practice painting for a long time, even frame them for display. The fold-over cover protects the sheets to remain pristine before you use them, making them perfect for traveling artists. The pad has 24 sheets of 11 "x14" oil painting paper, with enough thickness at 136lb (296gms) to hold acrylics and oils.

Who Should Buy It

Anyone who loves an affordable oil canvas pad will benefit from getting this 24-sheet oil painting paper. This paper will also be an excellent choice for everyone looking for an all-occasion gift for artist friends.

4. U.S. Art Supply Oil Painting Paper Pad

U.S. Art Supply Oil Painting Paper Pad
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Acid-free paper
  • Natural white
  • True to size sheets
  • Holds up oil paints and mixed media art
  • Glued for easier removal
  • Very textured
  • Not artist-grade paper
  • Thinner than most oil painting paper


What Customers Have to Say

US Art Supply Oil Painting Paper Pad is suitable for young and budding artists, as many parents testified about this paper pad. However, this pad is not the best choice for serious practice for oil painting artists.

U.S. Art Supply Oil Painting Paper Pad

Why We Think It's Great

US Art Supply Oil Painting Paper Pad has a very textured surface, making it good for mixed media artwork. The natural white color of the paper is less glaring than the stark whiteness of some brands, which causes glare.

Although they are not the thickest paper for oil paintings, they work well, particularly for new painters who wish to perfect their skills. Each pad has 15 sheets of 90lb (190gsm) paper measuring 9x12 inches, glued together for easy removal. Each pack has 2 pads, so your kids have more paper to practice with their oil paintings.

Who Should Buy It

Any art teacher or parent looking for cheap oil painting paper for their young wards and children will appreciate this oil painting paper. Though the paper is thinner than most oil painting paper in the market, they still work well for beginners.

5. Strathmore 400 Series Oil Painting Pad

Strathmore 400 Series Oil Painting Pad
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Linen surface
  • Acid-free paper
  • No priming needed
  • Heavy-weight
  • Canvas-like texture
  • No true to size
  • Buckles when dried


What Customers Have to Say

The quality of the paper is good, it responds well to oils, and many artists recommend this oil painting paper. They also find it excellent to use for oil painting practice.

Why We Think It's Great

With Strathmore 400 Series Oil Painting Pad, you can unleash your creativity without any issue. Since it is acid-free, it won't have any discoloration. The canvas-like texture accepts more paint than other similar oil painting paper, allowing artists to create pleasing artwork.

It is heavyweight at 215lb (350gsm), providing durability against bleeding or puddling of fluids, which means the colors stay on the paper and its linen surface also makes it easy to apply the paints. The heavy chipboard backing board is perfect for supporting the paper to prevent warping and buckling during the painting process.

The sheets measure 9x12 inches, bound with glue at 10 sheets per pad. They were also primed with synthetic material to improve oil resistance, so it does not need any gesso priming.

Who Should Buy It

The manufacturer recommends the 400 series as the best quality for the advanced artist.

6. Bellofy Oil Painting Paper - Best Budget

Bellofy Oil Painting Paper
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Heavyweight paper
  • Works for multiple media
  • Lightly textured
  • 400 gsm paper
  • 100% money-back guarantee
  • High absorbency
  • Warps and buckles once dry
  • Needs priming


What Customers Have to Say

Artists say this is good for oil paintings since they are very absorbent and work well on various mediums. Quality is excellent, and the texture is good, some of the features that artists prefer.

Bellofy Oil Painting Paper

Why We Think It's Great

Bellofy oil painting paper is a versatile and absorbent oil painting paper that artists on a budget prefer. It's incredibly light, portable, and comes with a 100% money-back guarantee if you find it unsatisfactory. To reduce the absorbency, you need to size and prime your paper well.

It uses thick acid-free paper, thicker than the usual 136lb paper at 246lb (400gsm), which fits tempera, watercolor, acrylics, and oils. Its lightly textured surface is ideal for those who like texture in their work. However, those looking for smoothness may find other papers better suited to their needs. 

Bellofy is a toned paper. That's not entirely a con since artists also tone the paper to remove the starkness of the white. Each pad has 15 sheets, measuring 11x14 inches, and glued at the top.

Who Should Buy It

If you're low on budget but still want a good oil painting paper, Bellofy is your go-to brand. We also recommend this pad to artists who work with various mediums (oils, acrylics, watercolors, and gouache).

7. Arteza Canvas Pad

Arteza Canvas Pad
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Works for both dry and wet media
  • Primed with acid-free gesso
  • 100% cotton sheets
  • Dense chipboard backing
  • Textured paper
  • Smoother than traditional gessoed pads
  • Poor glue quality


What Customers Have to Say

The Arteza Canvas Pad is a handy artist pad that artists love to use for its convenient size and gessoed surface for both dry and wet media. It is very resistant to wet media and is best for practice paintings.

Arteza Canvas Pad

Why We Think It's Great

Arteza Canvas Pad has 100% cotton sheets primed with acid-free gesso, making it the closest thing to the real thing. The dense chipboard backing helps to keep the canvas pad from buckling or warping while the paper dries after painting.

You can also use it for wet and dry artwork like watercolors and oil pastels, even charcoals, which makes it a perfect affordable surface for all artists.

Each canvas pad has 10 sheets of canvas pads, measuring 9x12 inches, glued at the top for easier removal. You may also want to check out the watercolor canvas pads for easier display and show. 

Who Should Buy It

Arteza Canvas Pad is an excellent alternative canvas pad for advanced art students who want affordable but reliable canvas pads for their practice paintings. It is also best for both left and right-handed artists since you can work on both sides of the pad.

8. Strathmore 300 Series Canvas Pad

Strathmore 300 Series Canvas Pad
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Heavyweight paper
  • Works for different painting mediums
  • Acid-free paper
  • Thick chipboard backing
  • Natural white
  • Thinner than most oil canvas pads
  • Needs priming
  • Buckles during painting


What Customers Have to Say

Many artists found these oil canvas pads to be of good value with excellent results. It is sturdy enough to withstand oils as long as you tape it well to a sturdy board, so it doesn't buckle or warp during the painting and drying process. Others also commend Strathmore for making such affordable and quality paper for artists.

Strathmore 300 Series Canvas Pad

Why We Think It's Great

The Strathmore 300 Series Canvas Pad is perfect for artists looking for medium-weight paper to handle different painting mediums. It works for different mediums, including oils, caseins, acrylics, alkyds, and egg tempera. It makes it an excellent choice for beginners who are yet to discover which medium they like to use.

The acid-free paper is also ideal for archival work, and the thick chipboard backing provides extra stability while painting & drying your work. To ensure minimal buckling, artists recommend applying a thin layer of acrylic gesso.

The natural white surface of the paper ensures brilliant results with each stroke of your brush. The paper has a slight canvas-like texture, looks a bit glossy from the coating to improve its response to wet media. Only one side is workable, though artists never use both sides for painting.

The paper is thinner than most oil pastel papers at 115lb (185gsm), so for this reason, we don't recommend going larger than the 9x12-inch dimension, though we recommend the 6x6-inch size. You also get 10 sheets of this canvas paper per pad.

Who Should Buy It

Strathmore designed the 300 series with the younger art students and newbies in mind. We also recommend this pad to parents looking for a reliable art pad for their children who are into art.

9. Bachmore Mixed Media Drawing Pad

Bachmore Mixed Media Drawing Pad
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Portable sizing
  • More paper than most canvas paper pads
  • Medium-weight
  • Economical
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Does not work for mixed media projects
  • Itchy when it comes to contact with your skin

What Customers Have to Say

Artists love this drawing pad because the oil paints glide nicely over the paper. You can also use it for various mediums, but they're not thick enough for mixed media art.

Why We Think It's Great

Bachmore Mixed Media Drawing Pad is the perfect tool for artists on the go. The paper is lighter than most canvas paper pads at 110lb (180gsm). You also get more pages per pad at a very affordable price without sacrificing the quality of your practice projects.

The 60-sheet drawing pad has a top spring binding with micro-perforations at the top for easier removal. The thick back cover is good enough to support the canvas paper, so it doesn't buckle when painting. It also needs priming before you paint it with oils. If you're not happy with your purchase for any reason, the company will refund your money within 30 days.

Who Should Buy It

Bachmore Mixed Media Drawing Pad is a good alternative for practicing oils, and the quality is best for newbie artists. Art teachers and parents will appreciate having affordable canvas pads for their children to practice.

10. US Art Supply Canvas Paper Pad

US Art Supply Canvas Paper Pad
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Triple-primed with acid-free gesso
  • 2 pads per pack
  • Durable, textured canvas sheets
  • Medium-weight cotton canvas paper
  • Easy to mount on wooden panels
  • Easily wrinkles when wet
  • Not meant for paintings intended for showing



What Customers Have to Say

These sheets are perfect for oils, acrylics, and watercolors. They are also well-primed, so they have a good texture and do not need any stretching. However, you need to mount it on a wooden panel or anything rigid to keep the canvas pads from buckling.

Why We Think It's Great

Introducing the US Art Supply Canvas Paper Pad - perfect for any artist looking to create beautiful art pieces.

These canvas pads come in packs of two, triple-primed with acid-free gesso to ensure durability, and it won't buckle as long as you keep it glued or mounted on a wooden pallet. The canvas sheets have a good texture, so they look like the real thing.

Each pad has 10 sheets of 12x16-inch medium-weight cotton paper. Aside from this size, it also comes in bigger 16x20-inch and 18x24-inch canvas pads and a smaller 9x12-inch pad.

Who Should Buy It

We recommend these canvas pads for beginners and avid oil painters who need more practice. These canvas pads are also best for art teachers looking for good alternative pads to recommend to their art students.

11. Darice Tablet Textured Paper

Darice Tablet Textured Paper
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Looks and feels like canvas
  • Portable set of oil painting paper
  • Thick enough for layering oils
  • Works for multimedia projects
  • Affordable
  • Absorbs too much paint
  • Not primed


What Customers Have to Say

Customers love the canvas paper that feels like a stretched canvas, and many think it's great for practicing their oil paints and acrylics. It's a must-have paper for newbie artists.

Why We Think It's Great

Darice tablet textured paper is a portable oil painting paper that looks and feels like a canvas. It's thick enough for layering oils, works for multimedia projects, and is affordable. The texture on each sheet makes them look like real canvases. 

They're great for practicing techniques or creating small paintings to hang up around the house. Each pad contains 15 sheets of 9 "x12" textured paper in high white color. They're also very affordable, so you can practice your oil paintings without worrying too much about the expense.

Who Should Buy It

The Darice Tablet Textured Paper is an excellent gift idea for your artist friends. They also do well for everyone who wants an affordable pad of canvas paper for practicing.

12. Canson Foundation Series Canva-Paper

Canson Foundation Series Canva-Paper
check price button
 Pros Cons
  • Pre-primed canvas paper
  • Canvas-like texture
  • Absorbs oil and bonding agents evenly
  • 136 lb/290gsm paper
  • No need for stretching
  • Buckles and warps
  • Needs a rigid board to work better


What Customers Have to Say

According to the users, the paper is firm and durable and has a beautiful linen texture. Other users say they love this paper pad because all they need is taping it to the wall or any rigid surface before painting or framing it.

Why We Think It's Great

Canson Foundation Series Canvas-Paper is a pre-primed canvas pad made from 136lb/290gsm acid-free paper. It feels like a traditional linen canvas treated with a strong, high-performance barrier, absorbing oil and bonding agents well. Although they are pre-primed, you can still apply gesso to them, stronger when painted with oils.

It does not need stretching before using it, but since it is paper, you need to tape it on a rigid surface before painting, so it doesn't buckle or warp during the painting process. Each pad has 10 16 "x20" sheets bound on the top with high-quality glue. They have a slight tooth and work well for acrylics and oil pastels.

Who Should Buy It

If you're looking for a pre-primed canvas paper for your practice oil painting projects, Canson Foundation Series Canva-Paper is an excellent choice for you. This paper pad also works for mixed media projects, making it a good choice for any artist.

Advantages of Using Oil Painting Paper

  • Economical

Instead of spending money on expensive canvas and canvas panels, newbie artists can practice their skills on oil painting paper.

  • Best for quick studies

Thumbnail sketches are a helpful way to prepare for your larger work. They can help you figure out what colors or look suits best and test them on paper before starting any project. This way, you can maximize the use of your canvases.

  • Alternative mounting and framing options

You can mount a painting on paper differently than the usually framed option. Some artists opt for an unconventional display to highlight their work, like mounting it in a shadow box for a modern look or a Masonite for a minimalist look.

Preparing Paper for Oil Painting

  • Mounting the paper

Tape your paper on a rigid surface - thick chipboard, Masonite, thick plywood, or wooden panel. Press the paper down with a brayer as you tape it to the rigid surface so there'll be no uneven surfaces that may result in unnecessary wrinkling, dimpling, or warping on your finished painting. Do not remove the paper from the rigid surface until you finish the painting.

  • Sizing the paper

You can reduce the absorbency of the oil painting paper by sizing it. Sizing involves the application of rabbit skin glue or gelatin to prepare paper or canvas for oil painting. Unlike priming, though, it does not give texture to the paper.

  • Priming the paper

Aside from changing the absorbency of the oil painting paper, priming also adds texture and allows you to tone the paper in one go. It is best to prime after sizing the paper to remove the absorbency on the paper before painting entirely.

Apply universal gesso to the paper with a soft brush, or go for bristle brushes for a textured surface. Acrylic gesso is also an excellent alternative to creating textures. Apply one or two coatings in different directions, allowing the gesso to dry between layers.

You may also apply an additional layer of oil primer to tone the paper. The oil primer gives an added layer of protection to your paper. However, if you don't want texture on your canvas, a simple trick is to run the side of a long palette knife to smoothen the priming over the paper.

  • Toning the paper

Tone the paper with acrylic paint before painting to remove the starkness on the paper and set the background for a satisfying result. If you apply oil painting primer, you may add small oil paint to tone the paper. Another tip is to prime a large sheet of oil painting paper, then cut it to the size you want to use.

Oil Painting Paper Buying Guide

  • Composition

Choose cotton paper over wood pulp paper for oil paintings. They are acid-free and more durable than wood pulp because of the longer cotton fibers. It also improves the capacity of the paper to handle rough handling during the oil painting process. It is also a good, albeit expensive, alternative to cotton fiber paper if you can source linen rag paper.

  • Oil absorption

It's important to know that no matter which type of paper you use, the paper will still absorb some oil. Some manufacturers, though, apply gelatin or rabbit skin glue to reduce the absorbency of the paper, so you only need to prime the paper. However, this type of paper is more expensive than regular canvas paper but removes the need for sizing.

  • Weight and format

Choose heavyweight paper for your oil paintings. The heavier the paper, the easier it is to paint since it can hold thick layers of oil paint without buckling. The best weight should not be lower than 187gsm, but it will be better to get a 400gsm paper. Oil painting paper comes in sheets. However, since you can also use watercolor paper, which may come in blocks, there is no need to mount them.

  • Color

Oil painting paper comes in different white, linen, or black tones. Stark white paper needs toning to remove the glare from it. Black paper, however, is best for painting with opaque and metallic pigments. You may want to add it to your art supplies for more interesting techniques to explore.

Oil Painting Paper FAQ

1. Can you use parchment paper for oil painting?

Parchment paper may be oil-resistant, but it is very thin to withstand the weight of oil paints. However, you can use parchment paper to protect your oil paintings before mounting or framing them or protecting your paintings during shipping.

2. Can I use watercolor paper for oil painting?

Yes. The thickness of watercolor paper makes it desirable for oil paintings. However, since watercolor papers are very absorbent, you need to size or prime your paper before painting on watercolor paper.

3. How do you oil paint a sketchbook?

Though sketchbooks are not the best surface for oil paintings, they still work as long as you gesso the page you want to work on. However, it is best to add alkyd to make your oil painting dry faster.

Paint as you usually do with the oils, then allow them to dry thoroughly, about 2 days before closing the sketchbook. Place the sketchbook under a weight. Weighing the sketchbook makes the paper flat in 2 days or so.

4. How do you display an oil painting on paper?

Some oil paintings on paper are good enough for display, but it is best to frame it under glass with a rigid backing so the paper won't fold after a time. However, protect the oil painting, so there is enough space between the painting and the glass. Check out the proper framing tips we outlined in reverse paintings on glass.

5. Can you paint oil on cardboard? 

Yes. However, since cardboard warps easily, it is not the best surface to paint on. For practice pieces, though, you can prime cardboard with acrylic gesso to prepare it for painting.

Conclusion

We can't choose one over the other, so we picked out the two best overall oil painting papers for this review.

However, we went with the Fredrix 3501 Canvas Pads as the best overall because it has more reviews. It is acid-free cotton paper with an acrylic titanium-primed surface for reduced absorbency. It has medium-weight paper, so you can use it for your oil paintings without any buckling issues as long as you mount it on a rigid surface.

Close behind Fredrix is Arches Oil Paper Pad as the runner-up for best overall oil painting paper. It is 100% cotton paper, sized with gelatin to reduce its absorbency and improve its quality as an oil painting paper. It has a good weight at 300gsm too.

Bellofy Oil Painting Paper is the best budget oil painting paper, but it is also very thick at 400gsm. It works on multiple media and has a lightly textured feel from the pre-priming done by the manufacturer.

We hope to address your concern regarding the best paper for oil painting. Which do you think works best for you?

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published