Reusing panels


Well-known member
When I painted with acrylics I would often re-use a panel by covering the old painting with gesso.
But you can't use acrylics over oils so that won't work with an oil painting. I could cover it with oil-based titanium white - but that would get expensive. Plus you'd have to wait 5 days or so for it to dry. Fortunately, panels are cheap but is there a way to recycle old oil paintings?
Maybe use oil-based primer/gesso? I think one exists that dries faster than the traditional one. I can't remember the brand, but perhaps it's worth looking into it.
I've used acrylics over poly-urethane varnish, and that varnish could be used as a sealer over oil paints. It has driers in it. Available in hardware and home stores. You might also try Kilz 2, an indoor-outdoor white primer used by commercial house painters. I use it to prep a canvas, or board, and it's cheaper than gesso ($9US/qt)
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I've tried Kilz in the past too when I was a lot younger and it only really works if you give your surface a very good sanding first (to be safe). But I don't think Kilz is all that artist's quality, as it's more for walls and furniture and stuff. I'd look into finding something that Dm7 mentioned. Maybe there is something, but you should still probably give it a pretty good sanding first. Do you have a little electric hand sander? Could be done in a couple minutes really. I paint pretty thick and it's hard for me to do this, but I have done it before with a really thined-out coat of titanium white like you mentioned using Liquin to help it dry fast and thin it out so I wasn't using so much of the paint. Of course, the old painting shows through a lot, but that never bothered me.
I use Kilz because I happen to have it around the house for touch-up work. I also figure a house painter on a $1000+ job will use a primer he can rely on. I'm probably wrong about the price of gesso, it seems about the same. But I already have Kilz:)
Dru, Dm, Arty thanks for the ideas

But i don't think they'd work in my situation. I've used Kilz2 in the past as a substitute for gesso on acrylic paintings. I didn't like the surface it left. I use Jerry's World Greatest Gesso (and imo it is the world's greatest) for $38.89 gallon - which makes it competitive price wise with house paint and it's much better for artwork. But it won't work over oil paint either.
Also for oil paint to completely cure take months. And you can't use klitz unless the oil paint is completely cured.

Oil paint primer/gesso as Dm7 suggested is an option. But an artist's oil-based primer requires that you first use a sizing - even on panels. And two coats of primer require 21 days to dry before you can paint over. --- this is why oil painters use acrylic gesso.

I've got a stack of panels it'd like to re-use - not so much to save money as to avoid the hassle and inconvenience of disposing and buying/cutting/storing new panels. But I don't see any options.

Thanks guys - I appreciate your thoughts on the matter.
Arty and Bongo, your comments are making me reasses Kilz vs gesso. Will investigate further. Meanwhile, I've got some 20-year old paintings on plywood and house primer that seem fine. Cheers
Oh, I do too. I'm sure they will last. I just don't feel right charging buyers super high prices for them--just in case they don't hold up.
Dru - it was not so much about archival for me as it was the working properties compared to gesso. Another benefit of a quality gesso - I use it instead of titanium white in my paintings. I haven't bought a tube of titanium white acrylic paint in over a decade - just using gesso as my white. I'm not alone in this a number of established painters do it as well.
I agree with Arty. If you’re going to paint over existing oil base, use an oil base paint and rough up the surface a little. How big are your panels? If they’re not real large you could use some Titanium/Zinc White oil out of the tube, maybe mixed with some umber or ocher to tone the canvas as those colors are fairly cheap and pretty opaque. If the subsequent layers were fat, make sure you aren’t to lean with whatever you use.

If I don’t like my work, I often paint on the opposite side of the panel as I seal/prime all sides and edges of hardboard panels with a commercial oil base primer to begin with. I reserve my Gesso for stretched canvas. Besides if you Gesso a hardboard panel it should be sealed with shellac or watered down wood glue prior to acrylic gesso.
I’m not trying to criticize or judge, but have you considered that Gesso has grit in it and that grit will wear heavily on brushes? For me, good brushes are my biggest expense. When I use Gesso I sand between coats and on the final coat.
I paint on panels that have a white pre-coat painted on one side. Makes for a nice clean presentation - but can only be painted on one side. I know neither the house brand gesso from Jerry's or Blicks contain grit. If they do it's undetectable. Some artists add grit to them. I prefer a smooth panel and I also sand before using.