Visit all 13 of our crafting supply websites! www.CPGbulksales.com

 

The Paper Library


~PAPER FINISHES~

The following page is a basic guide to paper finishes. The word "finish" essentially means the treatment of the surface of the paper. In other words a paper may feel very smooth or it may feel rough. It is that texture or "finish" that we are referring to.

What we have provided here is a simple definition with some notes on how to identify the paper when you see and touch it. In addition we have included a few notes on what it can be used for and its limitations. There are also scanned samples of papers (enlarged so you can really see the finish). If you see a * sign then you should drop to the bottom of the page where there are some terms defined. If there are other words used that you do not understand then you can jump over to the Paper Term Dictionary.

All the information gathered here is direct from the paper mills that make the papers. If you are interested in in-depth information on this subject your local library will have books on modern paper making techniques.



Authentic/True Felt- This finish is what you are used to seeing on high quality Fine Arts Watercolor paper. The finish has fairly broad crater-like depressions in it. The difference between Felt and Authentic/True Felt is in the way it is made. Regular felt has a finish applied to it after the sheet is formed. Authentic/true felt is felt through and through. It is easy to identify the difference in these finishes by the deep crater look of the Authentic/true felt.

This paper is excellent for watercoloring. It can be rubber stamped (apply more pressure) and heat embossed. It is great for die-cutting and scoring. The paper is too thick for hand stencil embossing even though the paper loves to be blind embossed by machine*

"White Texture" (Authentic/True Felt Finish)

Burlap/Cordtone- This finish was created by The French Paper Company. We all owe a lot of thanks to this paper mill for many reasons. The foremost being that back in 1955 they took a chance and developed the very first recycled sheet with specks and shives. Before that paper was pretty boring! The second reason is that they break away from traditional paper mills by continuing to take chances and develop unique and wonderful papers. Our favorite of theirs is the Cordtone/Burlap papers. Sometimes paper mills will come up with their own unique finishes that are not standard to the paper industry. Cordtone (which we call Burlap) is one of those types of finishes.

This paper has a finish that looks like a tight burlap sack. The finish is very apparent and not at all subtle. The finish can be seen on both sides of the paper but there is an obvious front and back to it. This paper stamps well (apply heavy pressure), heat embosses well and takes watercolor beautifully. It die cuts perfectly and it can be scored. It is not terrific for colored pencils as the finish is a bit too rough.

"Cream Burlap" (Cordtone/Burlap Finish)



Cast-Coated- This is a term that you may or may not have heard before. This is a process that is used for coating paper. This process is done to achieve a high gloss finish (like you see on Kromecoat Brand and King James Brand Glossy papers). This process is practically a trade secret but if you are interested in how it is done you can find that information in your public library under Industrial Paper Making. For our usage it is enough to tell you that when you want a paper that you can rubber stamp and have the ink dry on the paper you want it to be cast-coated.

What you will be looking for when you identify it is a super flat, ultra smooth and very glossy paper. Generally you will find the flip side to be plain white or white matte. You can find Cast Coated two side glossy papers but they are not as common as the one sided.

You can tell if the difference between Cast-Coated paper and Plastic Coated papers by stamping on it. If it is cast coated and you stamp with regular inks the ink will dry. If you stamp on Plastic Coated paper with regular ink it will never dry.

Cast Coated papers are great for rubber stamping, heat embossing and for ink pens. It is also excellent for die-cutting and scoring. This paper is not good for watercoloring or for colored pencils.

"White Glossy" (Cast Coated Glossy)

Embossed- This is a really broad term that is used to describe almost all finishes (other than glossy or smooth). However, some finishes deserve the name more than others. When you have a coated or glossy paper that has a patterned texture that has been pressed into the paper (generally after the paper was made) that is when we use it. The patterns can be quite different so you are not looking for a specific pattern, only a certain look. You will be able to run your fingers over the paper and feel the raised pattern. It is a uniquely beautiful finish!

Most embossed papers can be stamped on or heat embossed. Sometimes additional pressure is needed to get a clear image. Die cutting and scoring are not a problem.

"Constellation Riccio" (Embossed Finish)

 


Felt- A standard "Felt" finish can range in looks. Some mills call Felt one thing and another mill will call it something else. There is yet a third confusion and that is the addition of Authentic/True Felt which is a whole different animal altogether (see definition above).

Generally speaking you can find two different kinds of "felt families" (not counting the Authentic/True Felt). The first one is a fairly noticeable deep finish. It has a similar look of Authentic/True Felt only the craters are smaller- like pock marks. See sample below

Sample #1 Felt "Cream Watercolor"

This paper is terrific for watercoloring! It can also be used for rubber stamping (with increased pressure), heat embossing, stencil embossing (on the lighter colors), chalk, pastels, die-cutting and scoring. It is an all around great paper finish.


The second kind of felt finish is more subtle. It is almost a cross between a vellum finish (see definition below) and the felt finish seen above. It is subtle, elegant and it is also good for all the things mentioned above. The real difference in terms of usage is in how much you want the finish of your paper to be a part of what you are creating.

Sample #2 Felt "Anonymous Sample"



Glossy- See descriptions of Cast Coated and Plastic Coated Glossy



Laid- Laid finish has been around for a long long time. It is easily recognizable in two ways. The first is that there are a set of close-together fine lines that run the length of the paper in the long direction. The second is that there are even finer lines that run in the short direction about 1 1/4" apart. The second set of lines are very subtle and you will not notice them at first. It usually takes a closer look to find them. The first set of lines (the ones that are very close together) have a soft edge to them. They are not look like a machined edge like the Ridge papers (see definition below).


Laid finishes are very classy and are considered a classic. It is easy to rubber stamp on, heat emboss, stencil emboss (on the lighter colors). It is good for watercolor and it even takes chalk well. Die cutting and scoring are not a problem (score deeply to avoid cracking at the fold).


"Denim Laid" Laid Finish



Linen- Linen finish paper is also considered a classic. It is one of the oldest finishes around at this point. The finish can be easily recognized as it looks like a set of linen bed sheets was used to emboss* the the paper. Some linen papers have a deeper finish than others- normally it is quite subtle. Some paper mills will call their linen finish papers by a "special" name- but they are still in the linen family.


Linen finish papers are great for rubber stamping, heat embossing, stencils (on the light colors), light watercoloring, pens and calligraphy. It is not terrific for colored pencils. The paper die-cuts and scores easily. It is a very versatile paper finish.

"Cranberry Linen" (Linen Finish)


Matte- Matte is actually a coating that is put on the paper. Matte paper is traditionally a very smooth finish paper that has been given a matte coating. The paper is easy to identify in a couple of ways: 1) If you feel the surface of the paper it will be smooth and silky and 2) If you take your finger nail and drag it across the paper you will leave a very subtle mark where your nail has scratched the coating a bit. Some matte coated papers are a true matte on both sides and some are only coated on one side.


Matte coated papers are easy to work. They can be rubber stamped, heat embossed, stencil embossed, blind embossed and you can draw on the them with pens. The paper is not terrific for watercolor. Many colored pencils will sort of flake on the surface of the paper.

"White Matte" (Matte Finish)



Plastic Coated Glossy- This is really more of a coating than a finish. The way this coating is achieved is quite complicated. First the paper is cast coated and then it is given an additional overprint of clear varnish. This makes it super mirror shiny and also adds an amazing durability to the paper. This process is usually only done to one side of the paper (the flip side is normally left uncoated and uncolored).

The varnish (a.k.a. Plastic Coating) makes it so that normal pigment inks wont dry on it. The ink will literally stay wet for weeks (or longer). You can stamp it and print it with permanent inks. You can also heat emboss the paper to set the ink. However, be sure to hold your heat tool at a further distance than you normally would so you do not discolor the paper.

The Plastic Coating makes the papers absolutely stunning! This high gloss paper is great background paper for your cards and other paper crafts creations. This paper also die-cuts and scores easily (score deeply to avoid cracking at the fold). You can reverse score* this paper to avoid all cracking if necessary

"Copper Glossy" (Plastic Coated)



Ridge- This is a more modern finish than most of the ones we have listed here. It consists of bands of ridges and grooves that run the length of the paper. Each ridge is 1/16" of an inch across and the groove is 1/32" of an inch. The look is very machined and precise (unlike the columns finish discussed above which is more irregular).

Believe it or not this finish can be easily stamped (with a bit a additional pressure) and heat embossed. It also handles pens and even watercolor. The paper die-cuts and scores easily too! We no longer carry any ridge papers in our catalog.

"Dijon Ridge" (Ridge Finish)

 

Satin/Silk- The satin/silk finish has been around for a long time. It was extremely popular in the 60's and 70's. You do not see it as much today. If you look at the finish, you think you are looking at a tighter version of an oil painter's canvas. The scale is smaller but that is the basic look of the paper.

The paper does stamp well (with additional pressure) and it also embosses well. You can also use chalk and pastels on it. Despite it looking like canvas it is not the best for watercolor (although you can do it). It also does not like colored pencils (you tend to get an uneven effect). Papers with this finish do allow for easy die-cutting and scoring. We no longer carry any Satin Finish papers in our catalog.

"Marble Blue" (Satin/Silk Finish)

 


Smooth- This type of finish is very common. You are used to seeing it all the time on copy paper and other similar type papers. When you feel the paper is will feel smooth and there will be no apparent tooth* to it. This makes the paper very easy to work with and it is good for any number of applications. A smooth finish paper is by no means a "cheap" looking paper. It just does not offer the exotic qualities that some of the heavy finish papers have.

This paper is perfect for the beginning stamper as you can apply a normal pressure to it and achieve perfect results every time. It is also great for heat embossing and stencil embossing (on the lighter colors). Colored pencils also work very well as there isn't a finish to work around. Die cutting, blind embossing, scoring and standard machine printing is very easy with smooth finish papers.

"Willow" (Smooth Finish)

 

Tweed- This finish reminds you of an Oxford collage professors jacket. It does have a fabric appearance to it for sure. It is not quite corduroy but it does remind you of that a bit. The texture is noticeable but it will not stop you from being able to stamp it or emboss on it. The paper cuts and scores very easily. This is a specialty finish made by the Gilbert paper mill.

This finish is easy to rubber stamp on and heat emboss. It is good for watercolor and it even takes chalk well. Die cutting and scoring are not a problem (score deeply to avoid cracking at the fold).

"Bordeaux Tweed" (Tweed Finish)

 

Vellum- This finish has an absolutely terrific tooth* to it. This finish ranges from very noticeable to very subtle. To an untrained eye you may think that you are looking at a smooth finish paper. However, if you hold the paper at an angle away from you under light you will see that there is a bit of a roughness to the paper. It is that roughness or "tooth" that makes the difference between a smooth finish and a vellum finish.

This finish is the best for colored pencils! It is also perfect for rubber stamping, heat embossing, stencil embossing (lighter colors only), chalk, pastels, watercolor, die-cutting and scoring. It is the most versatile of all the finishes for crafters.

Note: What can be confusing for some folks it that when they hear the word vellum they think of Translucent Vellum Paper. That is a whole different animal. That is the name of a paper not the name of a finish.

"Colored Pencil Blue" (Vellum Finish)


Wove- This is basically a smooth paper. The truth is that under a magnifying lens you will see an almost undetectable woven pattern embossed into the paper. However, for our purposes consider that if you hear the word "wove" the paper has a nice smooth finish.

When you feel the paper it will feel smooth and there will be no apparent tooth* to it. This makes the paper very easy to work with and it is good for any number of applications.

This paper is perfect for the beginning stamper as you can apply a normal pressure to it and achieve perfect results every time. It is also great for heat embossing and blind embossing (on the lighter colors). Colored pencils also work very well as there isn't a finish to work around. Die cutting, blind embossing, scoring and standard machine printing are all easy with wove finish papers. You can also watercolor on them if you don't get the paper too wet.

"Kraft" (Wove Finish)



*~Additional Definitions~

Here are additional definitions that may be helpful in understanding finishes:


Blind/Stencil Embossing- The look achieved by "blind embossing" is a raised or depressed surface in the paper. When you are working with brass or plastic stencils and are pressing a pattern into paper using a hand tool that is called Stencil Embossing. There are also large machines that printers use that will achieve that same effect on a mass production scale. The printing industry refers to that as Blind Embossing. (visit the Paper Dictionary for picture sample)


Die-Cutting- To accomplish this you take a "die" (a block with a sharp metal cut out- like an industrial cookie cutter) and press it into the paper. You can use a hand operated machine to do this (an Ellison or similar type machine) or there are print shops that have large machines that will do this on a mass production scale. Dies can be purchased as-is in preset shapes or a custom one can be created for about $300.00. Once you have the die made it will stay sharp for years and years (if properly used and stored). (visit the Paper Dictionary for picture sample)


Embossing- The act of putting a finish on the paper is also a form of embossing. The mills will "press" a finish into the surface of paper. Sometimes you may hear a heavily textured paper referred to as an "embossed" paper. That is simply a way of stating that their paper is not a smooth finish paper and you can expect there to be a noticeable finish of some sort.


Heat Embossing/Thermography- Heat embossing is done with embossing powder and a heat tool. The powder becomes liquid when heated and then quickly dries hard when it cools. The end result of heat embossing is a raised surface on the paper. This process is actually called "thermography" in the printing world.


Reverse Scoring- When we talk about scoring we are talking about the act of creating a line or depression in the paper that will help the paper fold. For example if you want to make a folded card it is best to "score" the card where it is going to fold and then fold it. If you simply fold it over without scoring the paper your crease may look very unprofessional or the paper may even crack.

A reverse score is sometimes used on papers that are glossy and plastic coated. You can also reverse score duplex and any paper that tends to crack when you fold it. The way you accomplish a reverse score is instead of scoring what will be the inside of your card (as is usually done), you score the outside and then fold it back on itself.

You can score paper using a machine or press or you can score using a very dull knife (like a butter knife) and a ruler. However you choose to accomplish the score it needs to be deep enough that the paper will want to fold along that line easily.


Scoring- When we talk about scoring we are talking about the act of creating a line or depression in the paper that will help the paper fold. For example if you want to make a folded card it is best to "score" the card where it is going to fold and then fold it. If you simply fold it your crease may look very unprofessional or the paper may even crack.

You can score paper using a machine or press or you can score using a very dull knife (like a butter knife) and a ruler. However you choose to accomplish the score it needs to be deep enough that the paper will want to fold along that line easily.


Tooth- This is a very important term to know if you are going to fall in love with paper. The tooth of a paper is simply the roughness of a paper. For example- when using colored pencils or chalk you want the paper to have a tooth (some roughness) so that the paper grabs onto the pencils and chalk a little. This is also true for watercolor artists- again you want the paper to grab at the brush and hold onto the paint.

The best way to discover the tooth of a paper is to try it out. Take a piece of smooth finish paper and then a piece of vellum finish paper and then matte finish paper. Try colored pencils on all of them and see the difference. They all seem to be really smooth papers but boy does the tooth make a difference!


©2013 California Paper Goods