How To Stretch Watercolor Paper Without Tape

Every painter wants to get a taut surface from the paper before painting; wherefore, it has become mandatory for painters to stretch the watercolor paper.

Similarly, know that painting is easy to scan because it is completely flat, but the paper expansion plays a vital role behind it. Watercolor paper bought from the market is not always flat, so steps have to be taken to prevent the paper from crumpling.

How To Stretch Watercolor Paper Without Tape

In the science book, we have certainly seen several lab tests on expansion and abstraction. Even if the subject is related to science, you don’t have to go any further as it is possible in a straightforward way while sitting at work.

Apart from that, are you new to painting, so don’t you know how to stretch watercolor paper without tape?

Accordingly, the process of paper expansion is not bound in one way, but there are several options. But you might find it easier to stretch with staples rather than tape. So let’s get to the bottom of the whole thing without further do.

What Is The Reason for Stretching Watercolor Paper?

Artists usually stretch the watercolor paper before painting. One of the reasons for stretching the paper is that when the lightweight watercolor paper is completely soaked and painted on that wet surface, wrinkles and cockles are formed on the stretched flat surface, significantly disrupting an artist’s work.

Accordingly, adding watercolor to the painting expands the moisture side surface a bit while the opposite side stays dry, making it more prone to buckling and bending.

Similarly, lightweight papers become pretty sensitive to exposure to water and heavy application.  The wrinkles are almost entirely removed from the stretched watercolor papers and are prepared for painting.

Another reason to expand most is that the watercolor sheets can keep wet components on the page. Artists should stretch the watercolor paper before starting painting and then keep it flat to solve these problems.

However, it is not advisable to expand in all cases, somewhat depending on the type of painting being done and the artist’s skill level.

What Stuffs Do You Need to Stretch The Watercolor?

There exists two different ways to stretch paper; One is the staples method, and the other is the gummed tape method. In this article, we will use the stapler method in which the materials are also quite different.

In this process, you can use lightweight paper or low-cost paper and even stretch heavy watercolor paper with no specification.

Wherefore, here is a shortlist of items that will be required in this process to expand the paper below:

  1. Watercolor paper; which is cut to a specific size for your project and has an extra 1.5 inches on each side.
  2. 1/2 “thick foam board; which cannot be bent rather wholly flat and much more extensive than your paper.
  3. Clean Water.
  4. One roll paper towel or a sponge.
  5. A good quality stapler.
  6. Stainless Steel; which does not rust.
  7. Large clean tray for storing water; its size should be more than the smallest dimension of watercolor paper.

N.B: You can trace any picture on watercolor paper before stretching. Before stretching, print the paper on a printer that does not run the pigment ink.

We do a deep dive into 4 alternative methods to stretch watercolor paper easily already discussed in another post.

Step-By-Step Detailed Discussion on How to Stretch Watercolor Paper with Staples

As it is not enough to know the necessary components for extending watercolor paper, but the experience and confidence gained from the feeling of witnessing the whole process, which may not be found anywhere else.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to take each step in order to stretch the watercolor paper before painting; if any mistake is made, the whole process can be detrimental to an artist, so you must be careful.

Even if we are not providing video, there would be no error in explaining how to complete the whole process with watercolor paper staples. Let’s take a look at the entire test a bit below without delay.

Step-1. Prepare the watercolor paper before soaking

Fill the stapler with staples, 1/2 ” thick foam board, watercolor paper, and a paper towel roll. Next double layer the paper towel.

Step-2. Water soaking process

Fill the large tray with clear cold water and slide the water-colored paper until completely submerged. Subsequently, it takes a maximum of 10 seconds to soak watercolor or any paper in water, and it should be soaked in a tray of cold water in just the right way to expand.

Then let the paper soak for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Hence, the paper should not be taken out of the tray before it is thoroughly wet and floppy. When you get your expected result, pull out the paper and let the excess water drip.

Whenever the dipping process is over, then check the corners of the paper. Eventually, it’s almost right if you have an angle curved and quickly spring back.

Step-3. Remove air bubbles and remove water

The paper flops like noodles around, but you have to remove it before stretching. This is because if the paper is soaked for a long time, it can lose a lot of size, which affects the way it is painted.

Nevertheless, place the soaked watercolor paper on top of the paper towel on a flat surface. Afterward, put one more layer of towel on top of that paper. Next, blot the paper until the watery gloss of the paper is lost but do not rub.

Step-4. Attach the paper to the board

Place the paper flat on the foam board. But make sure the board is slightly larger than the paper you are stretching. However, you can use plywood or a wooden drawing board instead of a foam board.

Make sure that air bubbles are removed from the paper. For this, you need to lift slightly on one side or corner of the paper.

Repeatedly use your hands to smooth out the water-colored paper, which means keep stretching gently. Therefore, stretch the paper slightly as well, place your hands in the middle of the paper, and move them in the opposite direction.

Step-5. Staple the paper across the board

Once the paper is completely flat and smooth, start stapling the paper directly onto the foam board. Be sure to place the stapler about one-fourth of an inch from the outside edge of the paper so that the staples are about two to two and a half inches apart.

Continue sewing the paper with the stapler at the diagonal corners until the four corners are stapled. Make sure that stapling is evenly around and fill the space in the middle of the stapler with more staples.

Step-6. Let dry the paper & paint

Your paper is already fully stretched. Moreover, let the paper board with the stapler dry on a dry flat surface to prepare for painting. Furthermore, you can also do the job of drying directly from the board in sunlight or with a washer and dryer. Leaving it in the air alone dries it out in 15 to 30 minutes, but it depends entirely on the humidity of the air.

After drying, the paper is ready for painting. When the next painting is done, let the paper dry and wait until it is completely dry and remove the paper from the board.

Don’t be afraid to look at the surface of the foam board, as this board will remain the same after multiple uses.

Final Statement

Watercolor paper is buckling, which is quite painful for an artist as it can cause discomfort as well as ruin in the middle of his work. Therefore, painters never want to take the risk of skipping the paper expansion step. Of course, if you are an ordinary painter, we would advise you to follow this short process.

Although many people know about paper extensions, some painters are confused about how to stretch watercolor paper without tape because many have only worked with watercolor tape or normal tape. Did we accidentally avoid informing you about the expansion process?

To our knowledge, there has been no such negligence, but instead, we have analyzed everything meticulously, respecting the scope of your understanding. Now it’s your turn, if you benefit from our article, we will surely be pleased with you.

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Expertise: Content writer

My goal in life is to always be learning. I've spent 25+ years working with my hands and have found the art of building something new to be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience. Through my writing I aim to share some of what I've stumbled upon with the world in hopes others can benefit from my own experiences!