Saunders Waterford

Saunders Waterford

Saunders Waterford from St Cuthberts Mill is the watercolor paper I use the most. If I were to judge what I have been painting on all these years, than probably half of my paintings are made on Saunders Waterford. This despite the fact that I always have five, six different brands of watercolor paper in stock and that I always try to try new papers. Saunders Waterford is the paper I always come back to, it’s my standard paper.

St Cuthberts Mill, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Saunders Waterford is made of 100% cotton, it is mold made and the surface is sized with gelatin. It has deckle edges all around and has a surface created from wool felt. The paper surface is treated with calcium carbonate to counteract the effects of air pollution. It is recommended by the Royal Watercolor Society of Britain.

The paper is available in two shades: natural white and High White. There are three different surfaces available: hot pressed (HP), cold pressed (NOT) and rough. There are blocks (four sides glued) and pads (spirally bound or only one side glued) as well as sheets. Rolls are also manufactured but not in the thickest qualities.

St Cuthberts Mill, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

It used to be a relatively cheap paper, last summer (2021) I could buy Saunders Waterford 300g/m² (140lb) for only SEK 40 ($ 3.9)/sheet (when buying 10) but now the price is the same as all other quality paper and sometimes higher, around SEK 65 ($ 6.4)/sheet. I do not know why this sudden price increase, it may be due to Brexit.

The paper is very stable, it can withstand rough treatment. You can scrub and rub. I have previously complained about some papers that have problems handling masking fluid and tape, this is not a problem for Saunders Waterford. It is very durable.

The color adheres very well to the paper, it is not easy to wash off the paint. Dried paint sticks very well, if you like to remove paint afterwards, this paper is not for you.

Saunders Waterford manages all the techniques without being the best at any. It works very well wet on wet, but there is better paper for this. Glazing also works well, but there is better paper for the purpose. This is how it works with all the different techniques, Saunders Waterford is good at everything but there are papers that are better in each particular technique. But there is no paper that is so versatile, that is good at everything without being outstanding at any particular technique.

The surface of Saunders Waterford is created with a wool felt with a clear pattern.

The paper surface is created using natural wool felt. The felt they have chosen has a clear pattern, the result looks like a woven surface. I do not really like that surface, I like more irregular surfaces.

In fact, I dislike that pattern so much that I often use the “wrong” side to paint on, which is more asymmetrical and more natural. So a negative aspect of Saunders Waterford watercolor paper: Weave patterned surface.

There are probably people who think it’s a beautiful surface, but I’m not one of them.

Not very beautiful paper surface but the color really sticks to the paper


Saunders Waterford from St Cuthberts Mill is a high-quality watercolor paper that was previously slightly cheaper than other papers of the same quality but which now costs basically the same as all other papers.

The paper is very stable and robust. The color adheres very well to the paper. It handles all watercolor techniques very well without being the best at anyone. A versatile watercolor paper with few weaknesses, a very good versatile paper that should suit most watercolor artists.

Name: Saunders Waterford
Manufacturer: St Cuthberts Mill
Manufacturing method: Mouldmade
Material: 100% Cotton
Sizing: Gelatine surface sized, internally sized
Surface: Cold pressed (NOT), Hot pressed (HP) and Rough
Thickness:190g/m² (90lb), 300 gr/m², 425g/m² (200lb), 638g/m² (300lb)
Color: Natural white and High White

Manufacturer’s website

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Edward Finch
1 year ago

An frank and insightful opinion?

Edward Finch
1 year ago

An honest explanation of Saunders Waterford paper.

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