I have tried out numerous palettes for acrylic painting and my favorite is the Masterson’s Sta-Wet palette. It’s so convenient because it will keep the paint will stay wet for days. Misting the palette with water is not necessary because the sponge will keep it wet. I find that this helps me save money on paint because it doesn’t dry up and go to waste. I have tried making my own wet palette in the past but it’s not worth it. The cost of the Masterson palette is reasonable and the size is perfect. I wish I bought one sooner.

If I’m working on a small project and don’t want to set up the wet palette, then I like to use the Fredi Weber Peel off palette. It’s small and easy to clean. The full review of the peel off palette is at the bottom of the page.

The Masterson Sta-Wet Palette

Masterson makes a variety of palettes and in different sizes. The one that I use for acrylics is the 12″ x 16″ Premier Palette. I love the extra mixing space that it provides. The smaller 8.5″ x 7″ “Handy Palette” works well for painting outdoors with acrylics.

Above is the Sta-Wet Premier Palette with the sponge and palette paper on top. I peeled back the corner of the sponge and paper to show how they’re layered inside of the box.

How a Wet Palette Works

A wet palette is an airtight plastic box that has a sponge on the bottom, and a sheet of special palette paper on top. The palette contains a set of instructions, 5 sheets of palette paper and a Yellow sponge.

Preparing the Sponge

Don’t worry if the sponge doesn’t look like it will fit into the box. Once it becomes wet it will expand to the proper size. It can be trimmed down with scissors but I would suggest using it a few times to see if it conforms to the palette. The first time you use the sponge you should rinse it out to remove any residue leftover from the manufacturing process.

Preparing the Palette Paper

After you wet the sponge, ring out about half of the water and place it in the bottom of the palette. Take one sheet of palette paper and run it under hot water for a minute or two. Place it on top of the sponge and make sure it’s in contact with it. Smooth out any air pockets with your hand.

Using the Sta-Wet Palette

Squeeze your acrylic paints out onto the palette paper and mix your colors as you normally would. The water in the sponge will be drawn up into the paint and keep it wet as you work. If you’re used to spritzing your palette with water as you paint, you probably won’t have to do that anymore. Painting outdoors in a dry and windy climate may be an exception.

A palette knife can be used on the paper without fear of it ripping it. The palette paper is more durable than regular paper which would disintegrate when it gets wet.

Water can be added to the bottom of the palette if you notice that it’s starting to get too dry. Lift up the corner of the sponge and palette paper and pour a little bit of water into the bottom of the palette. You may want to tilt it slightly to distribute the water around the bottom of the palette. Don’t add too much because your paint may get too wet and runny. You’ll quickly get a feel for how much water to add after you use it a couple of times.

When you’re done painting for the day, put the lid back onto it. The paint should stay wet for days.

Above is the palette after I completed a painting. I placed Cadmium Yellow Free, Pyrrole Red, and Ultramarine Blue at the top left corner. The black is along the bottom left edge.

How to Clean the Palette

I suppose you could throw the palette paper out and just wash out the sponge and plastic box. But I like to reuse the paper. It saves money and reduces waste.

You may want to wear gloves as you clean the palette. I use disposable vinyl gloves to keep the paint off of my skin and from getting under my fingernails.

Scrape off the Unused Paint

Start by scraping the excess paint off of the paper with a card, I use old business cards for this purpose. Save the paint if it’s still in good condition and store it in a airtight container. You can mix it up and it usually makes a neutral gray or brown.

Clean the Sponge and Paper with Water

Next, I remove the paper and sponge. I usually place the paper into the bottom of the tray while I rinse out the sponge. The sponge can be rinsed out by running it under water and squeezing it out repeatedly. It’s clean when the water starts to run clear. It will probably have a few stains in it that won’t come out. That’s okay because it won’t affect how it works.

I rinse the paper out in the bottom of the palette so that I can run it under water and scrub off the paint. I use a house painting brush to scrub off the remaining wet paint. Flip the paper over and scrub the other side. Both sides of the paper are usable. The paper will be stained with color but it doesn’t matter. If the stains are too distracting for you, then just use a new sheet of paper.

Clean the Lid and the Plastic Box

The lid and the plastic box cleans up with soap and water. It helps to scrub it with a rag. Any paint stains on the lid don’t really matter except for the top edge of the palette and the groove in the lid.

Make sure to keep those areas clean as you work so that the paint doesn’t build up and make it difficult to get the lid on. Some artists apply a coat of Vaseline to the top edge of the palette to make it easier to put the lid on. I strongly discourage doing this because it could cause adhesion problems if you get any of it on the canvas.

Let It Dry

If I plan on starting a new painting immediately, I’ll prepare it as described above. Otherwise I’ll dry the plastic top and bottom with a rag and allow the sponge to dry.

How to Prevent Mold in a Sta-Wet Palette

I have yet to find mold in my Sta-Wet palette because I don’t let it sit around for too long without cleaning it. How long it takes for mold to develop is dependent upon a number of variables so it’s hard to give a specific time frame. It depends upon the temperature, humidity, and the water source.

After using it for four days or so, I’ll carefully remove the palette paper and place it on a table covered with plastic. Then I’ll remove the sponge and rinse it under running water. The plastic bottom of the palette can also be rinsed out. Once the sponge is clean, I place it back into the palette and then carefully lay the sheet of palette paper on top of it.

When I stick to this routine, it seems as though I can keep the palette going indefinitely without having mold growing in it. I think the fresh water in the sponge helps to deter mold growth. Flushing out the old water helps and the fresh tap water contains a small amount of chlorine which will deter the mold from growing. I imagine that you can let it go for longer than four days. Some say they use their palette for weeks without cleaning it but I don’t recommend pushing it that far.

Replacement Sponges and Palette Paper

If you happen to forget about your palette and leave it sitting for weeks and it develops a lot of mold, simply replace the sponge and palette paper. Replacement sponges are available. You can clean the palette and plastic top with soap and water. It should be good as new.

Transporting a Sta-Wet palette

If you paint outdoors and want to take a sta wet palette with you, then you have to take care to keep it horizontal. This will prevent the paint from moving around inside. But more importantly, the lid isn’t water tight. The water could leak out and damage the inside of your trunk or whatever you’re storing it in.

Storing the palette so that it’s level will keep the water in the bottom where the sponge is. This will keep your paints wet and also prevent the paint from sliding around and creating a mess inside of the palette.

Whatever you do, don’t turn the palette upside down. The lid has plastic prongs coming out of it which I assume are there to help keep the paper and the paint from contacting the lid but it would still create a mess.

The Fredi Weber Peel Off Palette

The peel off palette is a simple plastic palette that measures 12.75″ x 9″. It’s made from a type of plastic that acrylic paint won’t stick to very well. It comes with four rubber pads that you can adhere to the bottom of the palette. This a nice touch because the pads prevent it from sliding around when you’re mixing colors on it.

I use the peel off palette for quick projects where I don’t need the paint to stay wet for days. For example, I may want to complete a few color studies and I’m only going to use a small amount of paint.

How Well Does the Paint Peel Off?

Thick patches of dry paint will peel off by picking at the edge and peeling it off. However, the paint has to be fairly thick for this to work. I don’t like to let large amounts of paint dry on the palette because that’s wasteful.

I imagine if you were to allow the paint to dry after each painting session, it would form a thicker layer that will peel off in large chunks. However, I don’t like mixing fresh paint on top of layers of dried paint. The uneven texture makes it a challenge to mix.

Do Thin Layers of Acrylic Peel off the Palette?

Thinner layers of acrylic come off fairly easy. They’re too thin to peel off but if you soak the palette in warm water for a few minutes, you can scrub it off with water and a soft rag.

Cleaning a peel off palette
At the top left is the palette before I cleaned it. The photo at the top right is after I quickly wiped it down with an old rag. Then I soaked it with warm water and scrubbed it with a soft cotton rag to get to the stage seen at the bottom left. To remove the final bits of paint I sprayed some water on the palette and scrubbed it with a clean soft rag. This may seem like a long process but it took approximately five minutes of work to clean

Acrylic paint will stick to regular plastic. Palettes made from those palettes are nearly impossible to clean. The peel off palette is much easier to clean.

Try cleaning the palette before the paint is dry. It will only take a minute or so to wipe it with a wet rag. If I know I’m only going to use the paint for one session, I’ll only squeeze out a little bit of color. That makes it easier to clean and I don’t waste too much paint.


It’s tempting to improvise your own palettes for mixing acrylics but the Masterson Sta-Wet palette will provide a much better experience. The cost is reasonable and it’s better than anything you can make. It will also pay for itself over the long run as it will save you paint every time you use it.

The Fredi Weber Peel Off Palette is an easy to clean palette for quick painting sessions. I like to use it for doing color studies in sketchbooks. I also like the simple design of the peel off palette. It has three areas, two large mixing areas along the bottom and a long strip at the top. You can squeeze out color along the thin strip across the top, and use the bottom two halves as a mixing area.