Types of Paper

There are many different types of paper that are used for craft purposes. Explore the world of paper so you understand the different terms.

Paper and card are made by the same process, the only difference is in how thick the finished product is.  Paper can be categorized by size, weight or thickness.

Paper comes in many different forms, from very thin tissue paper to thick paperboard. There are as many uses as there are types of paper, depending on it's thickness and finish.

We use paper almost every day for writing or printing. It is also used to make newspapers, magazines, business cards, packaging materials, even the cups from your local coffee shop can be made from paper. Many different types of paper are used for a whole range of craft projects.

More About Paper

Types of Paper for Craft Ideas






Thin paper
Smooth surface
Bright colors
Not usually colorfast

Tissue paper flowers or jewels, papier mache.
Can be shredded for packaging.
Gift wrap

Tissue paper for crafts is usually sold in rolls but can be bought in sheets. Tissue paper is inexpensive but try to make sure you get good quality tissue. The type sold for kids or for shredding can be very thin and tears far too easily.


Thin paper
Crinkled surface
Can be stretched easily
Often brightly colored
Not usually colorfast

Crepe paper flowers, papier mache, kids crafts
Gift wrap

Usually sold in rolls.
The color will bleed if you get the paper wet which can be used to good effect in some craft projects. The dyes can stain your fingers but it easily washed off.

Copy paper

Multipurpose medium weight paper
Smooth surface
Usually white, other colors are available

Printing, decoupage, paper making

This can be purchased any where. This is the sort of paper you use in a printer.

Scrapbook papers

Various weight papers
Patterned or plain

Scrapbooking, card making decoupage

A huge range can be found in craft supply shops.

Decoupage paper

Various weights and finishes
Patterns, images or plain

Decoupage, card making, scrapbooking

There are huge ranges of decoupage papers in craft shops. Some of theses have images like flowers or fairies for you to cut out.

Origami paper

Thin paper that is easy to fold
Usually patterned on one side and plain on the other

Origami, scrap booking, card making.

Can be expensive. It is great for retaining the folds necessary in origami.
Usually sold in squares.

Mulberry paper

Handmade paper from the mulberry plant
Medium thickness
Various colors

Scrapbooking, decoupage, card making, gift tags, papier mache

The easiest way to tear mulberry paper is to wet along the area you want to tear. You will get a nice fuzzy edge that looks great in lots of craft projects.

Washi paper

Handmade thick paper
Long fibres
Uneven surface

Flower making, papier mache, decoupage

This is expensive but it's lovely to use. Similar to mulberry paper but thicker and very soft.
If you tear it you get a very uneven edge with long fibres on one side or the other.

Construction paper/Sugar paper

Light to medium weight multipurpose paper
Slightly rough surface
Wide range of colors

Widely used in kids crafts.
Papier mache, decoupage, printing, picture making, scrapbooking, paper hats, masks

It's cheap, cheerful and has 100's of uses.

Kraft paper

Strong paper
Usually brown but can be found bleached

Bags, gift wrap, envelopes, paper mache, kids crafts

Kraft paper can be bought in sheets or rolls. It can also be recycled so keep your paper shopping bags for your next craft project.


Thin to medium paper
Low cost but tough
Usually white but can be colored
Newspapers will already be printed on but can still be used for loads of craft projects

Papier mache, decoupage, scrapbooking

This is the type of paper they use for making newspapers. You can buy it unprinted in packs or on a roll.


Very thin but tough paper
Can be plain or patterned

Parchment crafts, card making, printing, stamping, embossing

Modern parchment or vellum is made from vegetable pulp that has been treated with sulfuric acid.

Water color paper

Thick paper or board
Rough surface
Usually white

Painting, card making, stamping,

For best results water color paper should be stretched before use. Get the whole sheet of paper wet then use brown gummed tape to fix it to a board and leave it to dry. Leave it fixed to the board when you are painting and it shouldn't buckle or warp.

Rice paper

Made from the rice plant
Rough surface
Translucent finish
Usually white

Painting, drawing, calligraphy, printing, scrap booking

This type of true rice paper is not very common and can be expensive.

Edible rice paper

Made from starch
Thin edible paper

Used for making spring rolls, cake toppers, edible flowers, macaroons

Used for all types of food crafts particularly with cake toppers and sweets.

Card stock

Medium to thick paper
Wide range of colors
Various finishes

Boxes, cards, cut outs, masks, models

This usually refers to paper that is thicker than printable copy paper but thinner than paper board

Paper board

Thick paper
Wide range of colors
Various finishes

Book covers, packaging, postcards, board books

It is heavy duty paper and is very easy to cut. It is often used to create sculptures.

Card board

Generic term for any paper heavier than 130gsm

Any craft project that uses card

I use this term troughout my site when refering to any board thicker than copy paper.

Corrugated Cardboard

Two or more layers of paper with a fluted layer between them
In crafts it can refer to just the fluted card
Usually brown or white but can be found in many other colors

Great for making dolls houses  and large toys for kids like cars or ovens
Packaging, papier mache
The fluted card is often used in card making, scrapbooking and collages.

Many crafts use just the fluted layer of card to add texture and interest to a project

This is by no means a complete list but it should give you an idea of the wide range of papers available.

Paper by Weight

The weight of paper is usually measured in grams per square inch (gsm).

This is form of measurements allows the user to compare different types of paper in a standard way.

A piece of paper that is 100gsm will be thicker than a piece of paper that is 80gsm no matter what type of paper is used.

Another way of measuring the weight of paper in pounds (lb) and is the basis weight of a ream (usually 500 sheets) of paper.

By Jonathan Joseph Bondhus (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What is Cardboard?

Paper over a weight of 50 lb or 130 gsm is usually referred to as cardboard.

Card can be just one thick sheet of paper or several thin sheets glued together.

One thick sheet of card will not fold or bend as easily as several sheets laminated together.

Corrugated card is made by gluing a layer of fluted paper between two or more flat sheets of paper.

Paper Sizes

The size is usually based on the International Standard (ISO 216).

The largest being A0 which measures 841 by 1,189 mm (33.11 × 46.81 in).

Each subsequent size is half the size of the one before it, therefore A1 is half the size of A0 and A2 is half the size of A1 etc.

The diagram on the right shows some of the different paper sizes.

Paper Thickness

Paper can also be measured by the thickness of a single sheet to the thousands of an inch.

So a piece of paper measuring 0.006 of an inch would be referred to as 6 points.

A sheet of copy paper is around 0.004 inches thick or 4 points.

Tissue paper is very thin and is used to describe paper that is under 40 gsm.

It has many uses from disposable facial tissues and toilet paper to the brightly colored tissue paper we use for crafts.

Crepe paper is of the same weight as tissue paper but it's surface is coated in glue and scraped and stretched during the production process.


Wikipedia, 2012, Paper size. [online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_sizes
[Accessed on 7 August 2012]

Wikipedia, 2012, Card Stock. [online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_stock
[Accessed on 7 August 2012]

Wikipedia, 2012, Paper Density. [online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_density
[Accessed on 7 August 2012]

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