Types Of Paper For Printing
We understand that there are many different types of paper to print on, and many paper types in printing are used specifically for their unique characteristics. We often get asked by our customers “which paper type should I choose”? The answer is not always simple, as choosing the correct paper stock types to print on can drastically change your finished business cards or flyers.
To help understand the types of paper used in printing we’ve created this handy printing paper guide that explains the paper stock types we offer and what they’re used for. We’ll also give recommendations of what commercial printing paper types will work best for certain projects.
Digital printing on uncoated paper is probably the most common form of printing. While there are many types of uncoated paper from different brands, a good rule of thumb is to imagine that uncoated printing paper is a more premium version of the paper you put in your desktop printer.
Premium uncoated paper has a porous surface that allows ink to soak in. This can in some cases make your prints appear less sharp, but you do get that awesome natural uncoated paper texture that most people recognise.
Uncoated paper stock doesn’t have a shiny look, so there's no glare, which is great for flyers and leaflets. It gives a natural look to your print and just like a notepad, it's easy to write on, making it perfect for printing greeting cards or envelopes too.
Coated Vs Uncoated Paper
We often get asked what’s the difference between coated and uncoated paper. The main difference is that uncoated paper is exactly as it sounds, it’s uncoated, so it hasn’t had anything applied to the surface of it. Coated paper types, commonly gloss and silk papers, have had a microscopic sheen coating applied to the surface to give them smoother and shinier appearances.
Silk coated paper is the middle ground between gloss and uncoated paper. Digital silk paper has a nice smooth touch and makes colours pop, but it doesn’t have the incredibly high glare that is characteristic of gloss paper. Silk paper is most commonly used for leaflets and silk paper business cards due to the high mix of text and imagery that usually comes with these products. Because the silk paper finish is coated, there are often questions surrounding how the coating impacts the paper.
Is Silk Paper Waterproof?
No, just because silk paper has a coating to give it a smoother appearance, this coating is not waterproof. The edges and core of the silk paper are not coated, only the front and back, so water can simply get in at the edges or any cracks.
Is Silk Paper Recyclable?
Yes, just because silk coated paper has a microscopic coating does not mean it cannot be recycled like all other papers. If the paper is laminated however it can become more complicated. We have a blog all about lamination that also explains recycling right here.
Gloss printing paper has a lovely high shine and finish. It reflects the light, so it’s great for images with lots of bright colours, especially large graphics and photographs. Gloss paper printing does have some glare though, which may make readability difficult, so just bear this in mind for your project. Coated gloss digital printing paper is most commonly used for business cards or flyers. Keep in mind that the gloss coating can sometimes make writing on it a chore.
Types Of Recycled Paper
As surprising as it may seem, there are more than one types of recycled paper. Uncoated recycled paper has the appearance of regular uncoated paper, and Kraft recycled paper is made from paper pulp and is unbleached so it has a brown appearance. If you’re looking to print eco-friendly flyers, why not give our blog a read here .
Recycled Uncoated Paper
As the name suggests, recycled paper is made from used paper products. Regular recycled paper is processed to produce a paper that is nearly identical to uncoated paper but made from 100% recycled paper.
There are no limits on what can be printed on recycled paper, for example, recycled paper business cards. With recycled paper printing, you may sometimes encounter small specks or blemishes in the paper, but that is all part of the appeal.
Kraft paper is produced from the pulp of recycled material. It is a strong paper with great elasticity and a unique rustic look. Recycled kraft paper can sometimes be referred to as recycled brown paper, this is because of its unique colour. It has the appearance of brown paper bags as in the production process, no bleach is used to make it white.
Black ink will always work well, whereas lighter colours on the CYMK spectrum will become tinted brown due to the brown mixing with the transparent ink. It can work well with a vintage theme too as it's reminiscent of days gone by and old-fashioned printing methods. Combine this with the right font and it can be a perfect match to give that retro look.
Types Of Special Paper
So far, the printing papers we’ve discussed are commonly used within the print industry. However, there are types of special paper that can be used in digital printing that can give unique finishes that add depth and texture.
Conqueror paper is a high-quality, hammer embossed paper. This means that conqueror printing paper is textured and is available in many different paper texture patterns.
Conqueror wove paper is the least textured conqueror paper; it has an exaggerated natural paper texture and is great for invitations.
Conqueror laid paper has a ladder embossed pattern, with a ribbed texture up the sheet.
Finally, conqueror contour has a cloud-like texture which works great for letterheads and certificates.
We offer white conqueror paper, known as conqueror diamond white paper, as well as a cream variant of conqueror paper in all three textures.
GF Smith Colorplan Paper
GF Smith Colorplan paper is a luxury branded coloured paper known for its natural texture and vibrancy. You may not know this but inks are transparent, so the colour of the gf smith colorplan paper you print on can shine through. For example, if you print yellow onto pink paper, it would look red. Similarly, if you print blue onto yellow paper, it would look green.
Printing on GF Smith colorplan coloured paper create some really funky outcomes, but we think the best use for coloured paper is to use dark colours such as black, to really create contrast. It’s also really good if you’re wanting to make sure the edges of your gf smith colorplan business cards aren’t white.
Double Thick Paper
Implied by the name, double thick paper is made by fusing 2 sheets of card together. Printing on double thick cardstock is great for creating a great impression and really gives us an edge to offer thicker paper than anyone else in the printing industry. Our double thickness card is ideal for extra thick business cards to really create a regal and impressive feel. Since we’re able to make double thickness card with most papers, we offer it on nearly all of the types of special paper we offer.
Colour Core Paper
Colour Core cardstock is our in-house take on luxe, triplex printing paper. Ideally suited for business cards and invites, the unique contrast between the white card and coloured sandwich core means they're easily identifiable from a stack of other business cards. The extra luxury 800gsm thickness also means this paper stock is incredibly sturdy and creates a great impression. They also do a really good job of reinforcing your brand as you can choose a matching colour core for your branding.
You may be shocked that cotton paper is actually a thing, but it's very common in the artistic world for watercolours due to it's very absorbant and fluffy white texture. We use cotton paper from GF Smith which is made from 100% sustainably sourced cotton providing a great eco-printing alternative to traditional paper. Cotton paper can also be recycled with regular paper.
If you're wondering what is cotton paper used for, then our answer would be whatever you like! Some of our best selling cotton printed items are our cotton paper business cards and cotton wedding invitaitons.
What Paper Should I Print On?
While there is always a personal choice when it comes to deciding what paper to print on. Below, we’ll cover some common questions about the best paper to print on and give our recommendations of what paper type to print on.
Best Paper To Print Art On
Printing art prints to sell is becoming increasingly common amongst independent artists and creators. Deciding on the best paper to print art on is a toss-up depending on how much print is on your art.
If your art prints are full coverage (none of the white of the paper will show through) then our recommendation would be silk paper, as it gives a nice smooth print quality. However, if there is a lot of white space on your art, and you want a nice crisp white, then we’d recommend printing your art on uncoated paper.
Best Paper To Print Business Cards On
While there are many business card paper types to choose from, some of the more special types of paper will come down to personal preference. Knowing what type of paper are business cards printed on comes down to the design and how much white space there is.
If your logo and information sit on a blank white background, then we’d recommend printing your business cards on uncoated paper as it has a nice crisp white that makes your details stand out. If your business card design is fully printed, then we’d recommend printing your business cards on silk paper.
Best Paper To Print Wedding Invitations On
We often get asked what type of paper to use for invitation printing. While this is certainly a personal preference, there are some recommendations we can make.
Traditional wedding invitations with plenty of white space are best printed on uncoated paper to capture a clean white background. Fully printed wedding invitations with no white background are best printed on silk paper to give your colours the best chance at standing out.
If you have a certain colour theme for your wedding invitations, you could always opt to print your wedding invitations on colour core paper to give your invites a coloured stripe down the middle which matches your wedding theme.
Best Paper To Print Certificates On
Since your printed certificates will most likely need to be written on, we’d recommend going for an uncoated paper. Not only does this mean your certificates will have a clean and official looking bright white paper, but writing on uncoated paper with any sort of pen is the easiest.