Dibond and Aluminium: A Simple question

I have a very basic question for anyone who has used Dibond or Aluminium. I’m busy trying to order some.

Thing is, it seems that people tend to buy it with a layer of white Something or other on it.

Alternatively, you can buy it where you get a pure brushed aluminium surface.

Now, ideally I think the latter option is the one I want to go for. Ideally I want to paint gesso layers onto the Aluminium substrate.

But I’ve heard that might be difficult. Plus all the artists I’ve seen online seem to use the Dibond with a white layer (of something or other) already put onto it.

So, does anyone with any experience of Dibond know anything about all this? Thanks

hi thomas, i can’t answer your question because i have never tried painting on metal directly, although it is something i would like to try. so i did a little digging and found this:

he mentions other artists painting on the white layer, but also a few alternatives for working from the bare metal. maybe it’s helpful to you.

something i’d be keen to try someday is painting on copper. here candice bohannon is describing the priming process:

her work is stunning!
so if aluminium doesn’t work out for you, maybe have a crack at copper instead :slight_smile:

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Thanks very much for the info Sigrid.

On top of what you’ve linked me to, I have seen a youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS-nYO0Gphs, where the artist simply paints onto aluminium directly.

As with what was said in your first link, this gives me belief that it shouldn’t be difficult to prime Aluminium. I had wondered if there might be a problem getting the gesso to stick, but this doesn’t appear to be a problem.

Currently I’ve ordered some primed Aluminium and some normal stuff. It was my intention in both cases to put gesso onto both.

Anyway, there are many things to consider. When I’ve done some experimenting I’ll report back my results :slightly_smiling_face:


This has most likely been answered before, but in case it hasn’t I will give you my recommendation for priming an aluminum substrate.

This is the procedure I have used for about four years now.

1: You want to prime the side that’s been coated with paint. I do not recommend priming the brushed metal side.

2: Take 500 grit sandpaper, and lightly sand the coated side of the substrate. You do not want to remove the paint just the glossy finish. When the whole surface had a dull look to it you want to stop.

3: I take a paper towel with some alcohol and I clean off the top of the surface to remove any particles from sanding. I use alcohol because it evaporates quickly.

4: After the surface is clean from any debris you can start priming the surface with either an Acrylic dispersion paint ( Gesso ) or an alkyd oil primer.

I hope this helps.


Thanks Rod!!!

Thanks O’Dell. That was really very helpful and precisely the information I was looking for. Cheers!

Also big fan of your work. Very impressive.

Glad to hear you found the information informative .:blush:

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Thank you so much!:blush::pray:

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There’s a great wealth of information on this forum. Happy I can contribute.:blush:


Hello Rodney! I am new to Dibond, having only used it a few times. Curious if you think a water based bonding primer like Insl-X would work instead of an oil primer? I’ve made a few panels with it without issue-- just wondering if there’s a reason you’d use alkyd over water based primer. I use a toned oil ground over the primer. Thank you!

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Hi Natalie,

It is completely fine to prime an aluminum panel with an acrylic dispersion paint, as it’s commonly called “Gesso”

I prime all my panels with acrylic gesso.

I believe the one you mentioned is a household primer for walls and ceilings. I don’t believe it’s designed to apply on panels or canvases. I would use a brand that is formulated specifically for acrylic or oil painting. Like this one…

If you go to any art supply store you should be able to find an acrylic gesso.

If you have any other questions please let me know.


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Thank you Rodney- I appreciate the advice and links! Best wishes- Natalie

Thanks for the info and video link. Very helpful!