I have used watercolor paper, canvas board, and canvas. Each has some advantages and disadvantages. I have just purchased a 4' X 8' piece of Masonite at Lowes for $7.80. They cut it for me into 10" X 16" pieces and finished the last step with 8" X 13" pieces ( I am exploring the Golden Mean in composition ). So I ended up with 31 separate painting surfaces. I covered them with primer. So far I find the surface very smooth and receptive to my acrylic paint. It is the best surface for the price I have found.

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I have used Masonite in the past and it resulted in the destruction of nearly every acrylic painting done on that surface.  I have previously posted a blog on Substrates dealing with this issue.  Primer in NOT enough to properly seal "Masonite" prior to acrylics.

Cheap, yes!  Smooth, yes!  Strong, yes!  But it has to be properly sealed and primed before use.  Oil paints do not have the same issues with this type of board because of the different chemistry and physical properties.

I have also used foamcore as an acrylic substrate.  The acid free variety is readily available and is light, cheap, can be cut to size with a zip knife or other sharp blade.  Have used up to 11 x 14 for knife painting, have also attached canvas to the surface to give texture.

The wood chip and hardboard surfaces commercially available are fine for oils, but need special preparation before using with acrylics. 

Thank you Charles. This kind of advice makes this site very valuable.

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