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PAPER

As you may have guessed from our name, paper is our jam. Through crafting and in our experiences
producing our products, we have worked with many different papers. 

This section contains affiliate links to products; Paper Built may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Be assured that our opinions are based on our direct experience after purchasing the product. We have not been gifted any of the products reviewed. 

PAPER SIZES

Our digital PDFS (printables) are formatted to print on standard 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper (letter size). The artwork always fits within an 8-inch x 10-inch rectangle, therefore international customers using A4 paper should be able to print the sheets without issue. 

Printable area on letter size paper and A4 paper is shown, illustrating similar results.

Our note cards, flat invitations, and passports are designed to fit within standard sized envelopes that can easily be purchased online or at stationery and office supply stores. The specific mailer is always noted in the product listing. We also have designed fun envelopes to coordinate with many of our products if you enjoy making your own unique mailers, as we do.

Envelopes in common sizes with cute liners and quirky letters inside.

PAPER WEIGHTS

Why does paper weight matter? A nice paper with a substantial weight to it conveys quality. Paper weight also affects the use. When you are building something structural, like a favor box, for example, you want to use paper with a heavier weight so that the box can maintain its shape. Bond paper, also known as copy paper, is better suited to a unstructured item like an envelope liner. 

Choosing paper is not easy! When shopping for a heavy-weight paper, for example, you will encounter packaging with a lot of confusing numbers. A standard cardstock from an office supply store lists 110lb and 199 g/m2 on its packaging. What are those numbers and why do they matter? The 110lb is refering to the basis weight of the paper, the weight of a ream (500 sheets) of paper. And the 199 g/m2 (grams per square meter) refers to the actual weight of the sheet.

 

As Americans we gravitate to the lb measurement. It would seem like the greater the 'weight', the more substantial the paper. Unfortunately due to the way basis weight is determined, size and cut being two factors, comparing the lbs is like comparing apples to oranges. For example, 80lb text paper is actually less substantial than 65lb cover paper. It is better, therefore, to compare g/m2 numbers when choosing paper.

Order of paper weights from light to heavy, showing ease of printing.

Generally, as shown above, bond paper (copy paper) is on the lighter end of the paper spectrum, then text, and card and cover stocks fall on the heavier end. The chart also displays the correlation between weight and printing: thicker paper is not compatible with all printers. Before using heavy-weight paper, you should check to your printer specifications for clarification.

The chart below pairs paper choices with our product types:

Chart showing product types and appropriate paper to use on the product.

PAPER FINISHES

Various pieces of paper showing various common paper finishes: glossy, shimmer, matte, etc

Papers have different textures that can affect their look and feel, as well as their performance in accepting ink. A card of linen cloth will have a rich and luxurious tactile quality, for example, especially when compared to regular copy paper. It is easier to print on copy paper, however, with its smooth finish.

Some common finishes:

GLOSSY

Colors reproduce beautifully on paper with a glossy finish, hence photographs are often developed on glossy paper. But the finish will show fingerprints, for example, and other imperfections will be visible. It impossible to write on glossy paper without disastrous smudging. We rarely use a glossy finish. 

MATTE

A softer finish than glossy, a matte finish still reproduces color vibrantly. The finish is forgiving and won't show fingerprints and imperfections. All of out printed products have a matte finish. 

METALLIC

Paper with a metallic finish amps everything up a few notches. We use several metallic envelopes to build excitement for the grand reveal. The brand we use is formulated to print with certain printers. Pens can also be used to address them. 

PHOTO PAPER VS CARD STOCK

Comparison of a rainbow design printed on matte photo paper vs cardstock. Matte photo paper is noticeably more vibrant.

When using an inkjet printer, photo paper will produce amazing prints. We use matte photo paper exclusively for the majority of our projects. Our Printing section walks through how the quality should be set up for maximum results. 

 

Why do we like matte photo paper? It is thick and sturdy; the paper works well for anything on the spectrum of structural, like favor boxes, to flat prints, like photobooth props, for example. The brand we use is also double-sided so you don’t have to worry about printing on the correct side. The best part? It is affordable. The picture above highlights the major difference between matte photo paper and card stock when using an inkjet printer: vibrancy. It makes a huge difference! 

 

If you are printing on a laser printer, use the thickest card stock available or a laser-compatible photo paper.

PAPER COLORS

Designs can be printed on white or colored paper.

For illustrated files, printing on white paper or white cardstock will produce the most vibrant results. We use matte photo paper, almost exclusively. 

 

You can experiment with finishes and textures to soften the colors, or to make the colors glossy, and so forth. A creamy colored paper would add a vintage quality to a design, for example. Just make sure your paper selection is not too dark as the illustrated design will become muddy and indistinguishable. 

 

Black and white items can be printed on any colored paper you wish. Get creative with your colors and mix and match! You can even print those files on white paper for use as a coloring craft. Where can you find a great selection of colored cardstock? Try a Paper Source near you.

PATTERNED PAPER

Patterned paper to make envelopes and envelope liners, and other items, elevates designs.

Patterned paper is a fun way to add interest to your crafts. Use craft punches to transform the patterns into compelling shapes, then throw caution to the wind and layer and layer. Don't be shy! And don't forget to check out our Punching sections for tutorials on various craft punches.

 

Where to find patterned paper?

  • Scrapbook paper comes in 6x6 and 12×12 sheets with endless patterns. You can find single sheets and sets at any craft or hobby store. Amazon also has many curated packages, like my favorite granny chic set.

  • The Japanese have a wonderful tradition of pattern on pattern crafts. Origami paper comes in solids and endless set of delicious designs.

  • Don't forget to raid your stash of wrapping paper!  

  • Many Etsy shops sell printable patterned paper that you can download and print. Search for digital 12x12 scrapbook paper. 

LABEL PAPER

Handmade stickers printed at home are used to embellish a wrapped package, resembling an air mail envelope.

Custom stickers can be created by printing a design onto full-sheet label paper and cutting out the designs. For a matte finish, we use this brand. Give label paper a try with this Air Mail Package project.

IRON-ON PAPER

A design printed on iron-on paper embellishes a cherry yellow tote hung on colorful hooks.

Rev your creative juices into high gear with the possibilities of transferring artwork to fabric. With iron-on paper, designs can be transferred to shirts, tote bags, pillow cases—the sky is the limit! Iron-on transfer paper only works in inkjet printers, however. We recommend this brand for light colored fabric, which conveniently does not require the use of an extra sheet of paper when ironing on the design.

Whatever paper you do decide to use, please read the instructions before printing the design as several brands require the design to be printed in reverse. Also we have found that 100% cotton works best. There are detailed instructions on how to wash the product.

 

We always do a test print on standard copy paper first, cut it out, and lay it on the fabric to judge the proportions of the design. If you would like to make the design smaller or larger, you can do so directly from the print menu in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC®. A tutorial on Scaling PDFs when printing can be found in the Working with PDFs section of the site. 

TEMPORARY TATTOO PAPER

Two children arm wrestle with their arms covered in cute temporary tattoos.

Temporary tattoo paper allows you to ink up without any regret. They make great party favors or play date activities, as well as fleeting fashion statements.

When tattooing, we use this paper, which needs to be printed on an inkjet printer, not a laser printer. It works best if printed on high quality settings for glossy photo paper. Fill up the space on the entire sheet because you will not be able to print on the sheet a second time. Don't forget to reverse the design before printing. And make sure you wait for the ink to dry completely before applying!

WATER RESISTANT PAPER

Water resistant paper is used to print a yellow checker design on a water bottle wrapper.

If your paper crafts are going to be getting wet, as water bottles do when submerged in ice, you will need to find a water-resistant printing solution. Instead of using paper labels, look for a waterproof vinyl sticker that is compatible with your printer—pay attention to the details as some labels work with inkjet printers while others need a laser printer. If you are using the paper to make a sticker for exterior use, like a bumper sticker, you will need to apply UV protection to the printed sticker. Waterproofing the vinyl also requires a laminate aerosol.

 

We have used this brand on our inkjet printer and were very impressed with the colors and its water-resistance. After the prints dry for an hour or so, we rinse them in water. The ink hasn't run in our tests so we have not had to use the laminating spray, which is appreciated because we are not fans of extra work. 

CREPE PAPER

A white swan with a yellow crown made out of white and yellow crepe paper.

Ubiquitous today as inexpensive and colorful streamer rolls thrown about for birthday parties, crepe paper has been a mainstay of crafting for almost two centuries. Its crinkled and wavy texture is distinctive and contributes to its versatility. With a never ending spectrum of colors, crepe paper can be folded, twisted, ruffled, molded, and even sewn. Indeed it was once a favored material for making costumes. Then, and as it is today, crepe paper is especially popular for making paper flowers. Vintage books, many published by the Dennison Paper Company, offer detailed tutorials for flowers, as well as many other decorations and crafts. An added bonus: crepe paper it is recyclable. 

Crepe paper is available as a single-ply, double-ply, and florist crepe. Manufactured in the United States, single-ply is thin, delicate, and very transparent. Double-ply is made in Germany and has a two-toned appearance with a generous amount of stretch. Italian crepe, or florist crepe, comes in 100, 160, and 180 grams in a wide variety of colors, including some metallic options. Highly sculptural, Italian crepe is prized for its decadent feel and appearance.

Two opened modern crepe paper books amongst scattered yellow crepe paper leaves.

A thoughtful gift and a lasting decor, crepe paper flowers remain a popular craft. As mentioned above countless vintage books, brimming with ideas, can be found on Etsy, Ebay, and flea markets and garage sales. 

Two contemporary books that should be in any well-stocked library are by Tiffanie Turner and Rebecca Thuss. The former is a practical guidebook while the latter is filled with the most beautiful and inventive flowers. 

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