Saunders Waterford Watercolor Paper: An In-depth Review


Experience the professional-grade quality of the Saunders Waterford watercolor paper from St Cuthberts Mill. Endorsed by the prestigious Royal Watercolour Society, this paper is mould-made and crafted from 100% cotton. In this review, I had the pleasure of trying all three surfaces of this highly acclaimed watercolor paper.

Saunders Waterford Specs

  • Weight: 300 gsm (140 lb)
  • No. Of Sheets: 20
  • Content: 100% Cotton
  • Surface Sizing: Gelatine, internal and external
  • Characteristics: Mould made, acid-free, archival
  • Suitable for: Watercolor, gouache, acrylic, pastel, pen & ink, pencil & charcoal

The Look & Feel of Saunders Waterford

The Paper

Saunders Waterford paper is available in three surfaces: cold press (Not), hot press (Satin), and rough. While it is machine-made, it resembles hand-made paper with its even texture and absence of knots or blotches. The paper is soft yet sturdy, capable of bending without wrinkling.

With both internal and external sizing, this paper has added strength and improved absorbency. Unlike hand-made paper, it exhibits consistent texture across all three surfaces. While some color shift occurs, the difference is minimal and does not compromise the quality of the artwork.

  • Cold Press: This surface strikes a balance between texture and smoothness, allowing for fine detail while still retaining some texture in the finished painting.
  • Hot Press: With its smooth surface, hot press paper showcases vibrant colors and makes it easier to achieve intricate details and special effects like blossoms.
  • Rough: This textured surface adds character to your artwork while still preserving sharp details. Despite its roughness, it allows for good overall control.

The Block

Saunders Waterford watercolor paper comes in convenient blocks, which are securely glued on all four sides. The top of the block has a wide opening for easy sheet removal. The block also features a cover sheet for added protection and the opportunity to practice paper removal.

A noteworthy feature of the block is the black glue, making it easy to identify the opening and ensuring simple cutting. However, to prevent paint from seeping under the opening, it is advisable to cover it with tape while painting. After removing a painting, run a damp paper towel or cloth over the glued areas to remove any leftover paint.

Example Set One – Using Saunders Waterford

For my initial set of examples, I used masking fluid and cut masking tapes to create shapes. All three surfaces performed admirably, with no tearing upon removal of the masking materials. The paper handled an extreme amount of water and endured multiple reworkings without any issues. While color lifting was moderate, it did not accidentally remove color nor hinder further painting. The cold press surface provided enough tooth for texture without sacrificing fine details. The hot press surface yielded brighter colors and facilitated extra fine detail and special effects. The rough texture, while light, still allowed for sharp detail alongside a textured look.

Example Set Two – Using Saunders Waterford

In my second set of examples, I tested the behavior of the paper when not glued down, as is the case with individual sheets or pads. Although there was a slight curl during the initial wash, the paper flattened completely once dry. I explored various techniques, including wet-into-wet, wet-into-dry, and dry-brushing. Of particular focus was glazing, which this paper excelled at. The ability to layer thin glazes without accidentally lifting color showcased the paper’s exceptional performance. The paper demonstrated remarkable curl resistance and remained completely flat after drying.

Overall Impressions of Saunders Waterford

The Saunders Waterford blocks are excellently constructed, featuring easily cut glue that protects your finished paintings. This paper maintains colors’ vibrancy, allows for smooth paint flow, and exhibits the remarkable ability to glaze beautifully. At 140 lb (300 gsm), this 100% cotton, mould-made, acid-free, and archival paper guarantees both internal and external sizing. On the block, the paper may slightly puff up when exposed to a significant amount of water, but it flattens entirely upon drying. Off the block, the hot press surface may exhibit slight corner curling during the initial wash, but it rectifies itself as it dries. Regardless of the surface, all three varieties of Saunders Waterford paper dry perfectly flat. The cold press surface strikes a harmonious balance between texture and smoothness, performing exceptionally well. The hot press surface provides the desired level of control and detail, surpassing expectations. Lastly, the rough paper, with its unique texture, allows for finer detail while offering a visually appealing textured look.

About St Cuthbert Mills

St Cuthberts Mill, located in Somerset, England, has been producing high-quality papers since the 1700s. Their papers are meticulously crafted using specially sourced pulps and cotton linters. Clean water from the River Axe ensures purity, while internal and external sizing enhances strength and durability. The papers are mould made with woolen felts, and they undergo thorough human inspection to maintain flawless quality.


As an artist seeking exceptional watercolor paper, Saunders Waterford from St Cuthberts Mill is a top choice. With its versatility, durability, and ability to bring out the best in your artwork, it has proven to be a reliable companion. Experience the joy of creating with Saunders Waterford watercolor paper and elevate your artistic endeavors. To purchase this premium product, visit Quill And Fox, your trusted source for art supplies.

Disclaimer: This review is based on my personal experience with one block of cold-press (7” x 10”), one block of hot-press (12” x 9”), and one block of rough (12” x 9”) watercolor paper from the Dixon Ticonderoga Company. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links that support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.