Is there a tool I could use as watercolor paper press?

Most of the time, after my drawing dries, the paper buckles. I would like to have some tool to put paper inside like a sandwich.

I guess I need to look something made of plastic or acrylic glass possibly?

  • Are you trying to prevent it from buckling while drying specifically, or over longer time (e.g. while on display)
    – Erica
    May 20, 2017 at 16:06
  • after painting and drying
    – al404IT
    May 20, 2017 at 22:03
  • 1
    Have you checked out crafts.stackexchange.com/questions/62/… ? I know it doesn't exactly answer your question, but it might help with avoiding the situation in the first place. Earthlin's answer also has an idea of how to flatten the paper after it has dried.
    – user812786
    May 23, 2017 at 16:41
  • 3
    Have you tried stretching the watercolor paper before you start painting? It prevents buckling.
    – Robin L.
    May 24, 2017 at 7:49
  • 1
    I second pre-stretching the paper. Sandwiching might work, but if you do it while it is wet might smudge your work and increase drying time. Jul 22, 2017 at 22:00

3 Answers 3


The answer is to pre-stretch the paper before painting, and leave it stretched until dry.

To pre-stretch, wet the paper evenly, then tack down the corners to a drawing board with some slight tension.

Using water activated tape (paper tape) tape the edges of the paper to the board with 1/4" to 3/8"s overlap on the paper smoothing out the tension as you go. You may need to reposition the pins as the paper flattens to the board. Regular art tape or masking tape will not work since the water undoes the adhesive.

Once it is taped down let it all dry, and be sure to let the work dry after its done before removing it from the board. It should remain flat.

The only problem I have found with this is getting the paper tape off the edges of the water color paper. Sometimes it snaps off nicely, more often it remains behind so I just cut it off the board at the papers edge. If someone has a solution for this that gets the tape off and leaves a nice clean edge I would love to hear it.


Yes, there is a way to flatten the paper after the fact if you did not pre-stretch it.

After you've completed the painting and the paint has dried completely (it's really important that it must be absolutely dry), put the painting face-down on a clean dry table. Gradually moisten the back of the paper with a damp sponge to relax it. Ensure that you moisten all over the back of the paper and do so evenly with no puddles anywhere. Carefully pick up the paper (do not let any water drips get onto the right side of the paper) and lay it face-down on a sheet of drywall, ensuring that it lies completely flat with no wrinkles. Then place another sheet of drywall on top of the paper. Then add some weight on the top sheet of drywall (e.g. more sheets of drywall, a stack of books, whatever). Leave the painting sandwiched between the two sheets of drywall for a few days to dry completely. Finally, lift the top sheet of drywall and carefully remove the sheet of watercolor paper. It should be nice and flat.

  • Have seen this done with alternating layers of thick paper or printing blankets as well, and pressed using a large wooden press like old timey printing presses. I suppose any large flat press would work. It is a little risky though.
    – rebusB
    Oct 16, 2017 at 18:59
  • 1
    It's really not risky, providing that you (1) wait until your work has dried completely after you initially do the painting, (2) wet only the back of the paper and (3) do this with a damp, not wet, sponge. I have never had a problem using this method and I use this method on the vast majority of my work because I do not pre-stretch my paper.
    – Matt
    Dec 7, 2017 at 2:04

Spray down the back of the paper with clean water. Flip and tape right side up using 1 1/2" glued paper-tape on a bigger piece of masonite board. Weigh sides of the taped paper down with books or video tapes ...anything flat with weight ... along the edges to ensure edges stay put. Don't get whatever you're weighing it down with ON the finished painting. Nust on the brown paper tape. By the way, you can buy that tape at art store, on Amazon or at the Post Office.

Next time, tape the paper down before painting. No need to pre-moisten the paper. Tape it down dry using moistened paper tape that is at least a couple inches on each end longer than sides of paper so it has a really good grip on the masonite.

Always shake the moistened tape off real quick AWAY from the sheet if paper before approaching it to tape down because you want to avoid getting the excess watery glue that was on the tape on your painting surface because ...it will dry clear and it is gonna repel your pigment when the pigment dries & you'll see 'mysterious' lightning shaped white marks or splotches where the dried cleat tape's glue splashed on your painting surface...so shake the excess water off the tape AWAY from your paper. I don't 'dip' the tape ... I swipe it really fast under hot running water outta the faucet in the kitchen sink, outstretch my arm AWAY from my masonite board that has my awaiting paper on it and give that tape a good shake...THEN, I tape it down on the edge, avoiding passing the tape over the paper...

Approach it from the SIDE. Do this on all 4 sides. Overlap at least 1/2 an inch onto paper edge when taping paper onto masonite board. Do it right the 1st time so tape it straight as you can. Tape the top, then 1 side, then the bottom, then the other side...not opposing sides 1st.

This ensures a tight stretch. Only use the really WIDE papertape. 1 1/2" roll of papertape. Buy at post office if you can't find elsewhere.

When completely dry, then do your painting. When finished, cut just onto where you see the paper under that tape...cut through tape into the paper with a box cutter on all edges & press hard enough. Careful you don't cut your painting image. Carefully lift it off the board.

Where the tape remains, you can just leave that because the matte is going to cover it anyways when you or your client goes to frame it.

my Matthew Bellamy montage work-in-progress

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .