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The Best Watercolor Pads

Last updated on March 19, 2024

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

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Our Picks For The Top Watercolor Pads

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Most Sustainable

Canson XL Series White Watercolor Pad, 30-Sheet

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XL Series White Watercolor Pad, 30-Sheet

Sustainability sets this watercolor pad from others in its market. Made using sustainable processes, this option helps those trying to reduce their carbon footprint. The pages are both acid-free and cold press, which also provides an extra level of durability.

Overall Take

Textured PickIf you're concerned about your environmental impact, this watercolor pad is made using sustainable processes.

 Best Acid-Free

UCreate Acid-Free Watercolor Pad, 50-Sheet


Acid-Free Watercolor Pad, 50-Sheet

Large families and classroom teachers will love this watercolor pad. The pages are acid-free, recyclable and loose, so you can easily remove them to share with siblings or fellow students. In addition to wet media, you can also use this pad with mixed media.

Overall Take

Super HeavyweightThis watercolor pad is best for beginner to intermediate levels.

 Best Seller

Strathmore 400 Series Heavyweight Watercolor Pad, 12-Sheet


400 Series Heavyweight Watercolor Pad, 12-Sheet

The felt finish of this watercolor pad, along with its page thickness, means it soaks up your watercolors better than competitors. This pad contains 12 sheets, but you can buy them in packs to save money. The pad is made in the U.S. for those who prefer to buy domestically.

Overall Take

Absorbent PadThe felt finish on the pages of this watercolor pad mean they soak up watercolors better than competitors.

 Best Spiral Book

Arteza Wire-Bound Watercolor Pad, 64-Sheet


Wire-Bound Watercolor Pad, 64-Sheet

If you're looking for a watercolor pad with a hard cover that protects the pages inside, this set is your best bet. The set includes two spiral-bound pads that each offer 64 pages. The pages are slightly textured and can be easily removed from the pad, should you wish to display them in a frame or turn them in as an assignment.

Overall Take

Protective CoverYou can use this watercolor pad with both wet and dry media.

Buying Guide

If you’re an artist, you know the importance of the materials you use. High-quality paints are essential for creations that jump right off the page. But the surface you’re painting on comes into play, too. For artists using watercolor pads, the paper inside those pads can either help or hinder your journey toward creating your next masterpiece.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

If you use pencils, you’ll also want to make sure you choose a paper that can stand up to your eraser. Look for papers made from long fibers that will erase cleanly. Acid-free, cold-press paper can handle multiple washings. Thicker, higher-quality paper will also better soak up the pigments in your paint.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

As you’re pricing around, keep in mind not only quality but quantity. It can be easy to be drawn in by a lower-priced pad, only to realize later that it only comes with a small number of sheets. A much thicker pad will last longer, saving you the inconvenience of having to go back to the art store.

Perforated pages can also come in handy when you’ve finished your piece of art. If you want to extract it from the notebook to display or give away, pages that rip out won’t have that smooth edge. A perforation will give you a handy page that you can show off as the piece of art it is.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

For some artists, sustainability is also an important factor. Some watercolor pads are built with the environment in mind, so you can definitely narrow your list by looking for that feature. You can also find watercolor pads that are made in the U.S. if that’s a priority for you.

What to Look For

  • When it comes to paper, it’s the little things that make a difference. Some pads use long fibers in their page construction, which means they hold up well while working. If you’re also using your pad for pencil drawings, you won’t have to worry about wearing down the paper fibers when you erase.
  • The paper of some models is acid-free and cold press, which ensures it will last through even repeated washings. It’s also heavyweight, 140-pound paper with plenty of texture to help it soak up the pigments in your paint.
  • Art professors helped develop some paper pads, designing them specifically for the needs of art students. The perforated, true-size sheets are perfect for neatly removing the pad to display. It holds up well whether you’re using pencil, charcoal or watercolor. It isn’t quite as absorbent as competitors, though, which means you’ll have to allow your drawings a little more time to dry.
  • The pages of some pads are soaked in pure natural gelatin, then air-dried. That process enhances your paint, giving it a luster. It also helps keep tearing and lint to a minimum.
  • When you’re comparing prices, keep in mind the number of pages you get for that cost.
  • If the environment is important to you, it may help to know that some pads are made using sustainable processes.

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