Buy THREE cards get ONE FREE

Securing Paper To The Board

Phil Ironside, A Painting A Day, Gather the materials

Think in advance

When considering to paint always think in advance as much as possible of all the things you will need and the scenarios you may have to deal with. As most people do not have the luxury of a dedicated space to paint, a board will have to be used and the temporary studio set up each time you paint. Once worked out, the process is quick and easy. Not having obstacles in the way, neither mentally nor physically means the process can flow easily.

Thinking in advance also applies if you are going to paint away from your normal surroundings or perhaps planning to paint outside.

Securing the paper to the board is important because it does not want to be sliding all over the place when you are performing acrobatic manouvers with a trowel in your hand. You have just made the perfect stroke and at the last flick the paper leaps off the board with the trowel.

The paper needs to be attached from underneath. If it is attached using tape from the top, when the tape is removed there will be a little white triangle in each of the corners or it may rip the paper. If the paper was going to be cut down that would not be a problem. It is much better not to have to do that as this would also reduce the size of the paper which may cause issues if you are planning on framing your work.

The board

Any board that is at least 75mm (3 inches) bigger all round than the paper will do the job adequately. The larger the board the better as it gives a lot more run-off and means that is easier to protect the prized dining room table from paint and scratches. Don't want to be falling at the first fence when it is discovered you have destroyed the family heir loom.

Board materials

  • Chipboard (although as it has a porous surface tapes do not always adhere well
  • Melamine cover board
  • Hardboard (using the shiny side)
  • MDF
  • Acrylic sheet
  • Large plastic place mats (These are great if you are travelling and plan on painting)

The paper

A4 250g/sq m is a good size and weight. Please refer to a more detailed discussion on paper.

Different sticking products

  • Blue-Tak
  • Double sided tape
  • Sticky pads
  • Masking tape
  • Normal sticky tape


If used in very small pieces in each corner it works ok. There is always a little bump where the Blue-Tak which will affect the painting texture. If there is a lot of impasto and thick paint then this is not a problem. However when creating gradations with a brush the effect will be more accentuated and may easily spoil the effect you intended.

Double sided tape

This is good as there is little alteration to the painting surface. It can be fiddly getting the backing paper off. Many double sided tapes have a high tack and will rip the top layer off the paper when it is removed. It may even cause a tear due to the force needed to remove it.

Sticky pads

These are very handy and are easy to use as there is no need for cutting and the backing is usually easier to get off. However they are usually thicker than tape and so can affect the painting like Ble-Tak can.

Masking tape

With a lower tack than double-sided tape this is a good choice and it is available several grades of tack.

Normal sticky tape

This again has no profile so will not affect the texture of the painting. It is readily available and can usually be found in any kitchen drawer or wherever you keep all those things you don't know where to put.


Anything from 12mm (1/2 inch) to 25mm (1 inch) is fine. If you have larger then it can easily be cut down.

Before you start

Phil Ironside, A Painting A Day, signing the back

Well worth signing and dating the paper on the reverse of the side you are going to paint before you begin. If you are planning on doing several a day then a number denoting the order which they were painted is good. It may seem obvious when you have painted them which one follows which but even a week later it may not be obvious and it is always good to see the progression.

Sticking it down

If you have decided to use Blu-Tak, double-sided tape or sticky pads then all you do is apply the fixing of your choice to the back of the paper and press it firmly into position on your board.

If you have decided on masking tape or sticky tape or perhaps even insulation tape then you will have to make the tape into a loop.

Cut a piece of tape around 150mm (6inches) long either using scissors or perhaps your teeth but don't tell your dentist.

Phil Ironside, A Painting A Day, Cutting the tape

It is a good idea to fold a corner of the tape to prevent losing the end.
It can take weeks to find it again

Phil Ironside, A Painting A Day, Fold over the corner

Make a loop of the tape with the sticky side on the outside of the loop

Phil Ironside, A Painting A Day, Making the loop

Position the loop in the corner of the paper and press firmly. It works better if the join in the loop attaches to the paper not the board.

Phil Ironside, A Painting A Day, Positioning the folded tape.

Turn the paper over and press the corners hard onto the board.


As with all things, take your time, think before you start.

The preferred sticking material is either masking tape or sticky tape.

That's it, let's get painting

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published