Do You Need To Prime Canvas For Oil Paint

If you are an experienced artist or just starting to explore the world of oil painting, you may have wondered whether it is necessary to prime your canvas beforehand. The answer is clear – yes, it is highly recommended.

Why Should You Prime Your Canvas?

Firstly, let’s understand why priming your canvas is so important. Priming your canvas creates a barrier between the paint and the canvas itself. If this protective layer is skipped, the oil in your paint will eventually rot your canvas over time, leading to damage and discoloration. It can also make your painting look dull as the canvas absorbs the oil in the paint, stripping it of its lustre.

What Should You Use To Prime Your Canvas?

The most common material used to prime canvas is Gesso. It’s a white paint mixture that has an acrylic polymer with calcium carbonate, which gives the paint something to grab onto and prevents the oil from soaking into the canvas.

How To Prime Your Canvas?

Priming your canvas is a relatively straightforward process. Here is a simple step-by-step guide:

  1. Ensure your canvas is clean and dust-free.
  2. Apply the first coat of gesso with a wide, flat brush.
  3. Allow it to dry completely.
  4. Once dry, if desired, you can lightly sand the surface for a smoother finish.
  5. Repeat the process for a second or third coat, depending on your preference.


In conclusion, priming your canvas for oil paint is an essential step that should not be overlooked. It not only protects your canvas but also helps in enhancing the vibrancy of your oil paints. So the next time you prepare for an oil painting session, remember to prime your canvas first!