Printing Onto Paper with Patterned Textures


The vast majority of printing is done onto smooth white paper, be it gloss, silk or uncoated. This is perfectly fine for most types of printing, and since many different paper weights are available there is usually sufficient choice for most applications. It’s when creativity comes into play that other kinds of paper are considered, and paper with a textured finish is often one of the first that comes to mind.

There are many different fantastic textured papers available, with brands like G.F Smith producing huge ranges of beautiful papers. Specialist textured papers are also often coloured too, although bright white textured papers are available. If you can lay your hands on one of their great swatches, it's well worth a look.


Uses of textured papers

The most commonly requested paper we print onto is a pale cream “watercolour” type paper, which is usually used for creating wedding stationery. In fact, we'd say that the vast majority of textured paper enquiries we receive are for exactly this purpose! With that in mind, we’ll use this as an example as we go along and look at the pros and cons of using textured papers.


A quick word about colour

If you’re printing colour images onto coloured paper, then it's important to be aware that the colour of the paper will affect the colours in the print.

We also have an article about printing onto coloured paper, which you can find here. It covers digital printing, but the effect is the same for litho printing too.


Litho or digital print for textured papers?

As litho and digital are two different printing technologies, it will come as no surprise that they both handle printing on textured paper differently. Let's take a closer look at colour printing with both digital printing and offset litho printing:


Digital printing

Digital printing can have difficulties with some textured papers. Digital printing machines use hard rollers, so this and the fact that the toner falls into the ‘gaps’ in the textured paper mean that it often won’t look right at all, or the toner (powder) may actually rub off once it’s printed. This is because the toner powder doesn’t fuse to the paper properly during the print process, as it would with digital printing onto flat, smooth paper stock. However, printing onto textured papers with a flatter pattern can work perfectly well, as shown in the image above.

Digital printing may not be suitable for many types of textured paper, but some people do like the mottled effect it can give!

If you’re looking for more of an olde-worlde look, it's possible that the issues with digital printing in this area could actually make your prints look better. As ever, you’ll need to run some print tests, and at least with digital print you can do this cheaply. (This can be great for digital poster printing, for example.)


Litho printing

The lithographic printing process uses wet inks and rubber rollers, and thus is much better for use with textured papers. Using these in combination, the litho printing process can better apply the ink to all those tiny recesses in textured paper, creating a cleaner and more thorough print.

The only real problem with litho is cost. Litho machines have to be set up prior to each print job, so unless you want to pay a full setup charge just to look at a couple of test prints, you most likely won't know what the finished result will look like until they’re all done.


Cost of textured papers

It’s unfortunate, but as textured papers are harder to manufacture and made in much smaller quantities than regular gloss, silk and uncoated stocks, they are far more expensive.

This can be enough of a drawback in itself, but it does depend on the quantity of printed pieces that you need. If you're just printing a few invites, then you might not need a lot of paper anyway. Even at ten times the cost of regular smooth white paper, you still aren't really breaking the bank. Using litho print will however incur the setup charge, despite the fact that you only need a few printed copies, so if you want the ultimate quality of litho then you’re going to end up paying a relatively large amount per piece.


Need to know more about printing on textured paper?

With so many paper colours, weights and textures available, your choices are practically endless when it comes to creating totally unique prints. But if all that choice seems a little overwhelming, or if you really just aren't sure which paper type would best suit your prints, just contact our team with your questions! We'd love to help you create some really extra-special prints on textured paper.