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Cardstock, sometimes called "cover stock," refers to a range of fairly thick and heavy paper weights used in scrapbooking, mounting surfaces for framing, and making business cards. The main features that distinguish a sheet of cardstock are weight, fiber, color, finish, and size. Of these, weight sets cardstock apart from other types of paper and manufacturers often use it for labeling different products.
Manufacturers describe paper in several ways: using point sizes that measure the thickness of a single sheet in thousandths of an inch; and by "basis weight," a measurement in pounds of the weight of 500 sheets of the standard size of the paper. The size of different types of paper is not always consistent, however, making comparisons by "basis weights" complicated. Many manufacturers consider the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) paper industry standard the most consistent way to compare paper weights. The ISO measures weight in grams per square meter (gsm). Using this measurement system makes it much easier for customers and manufacturers to recognize cardstock and compare various types of paper.
|heavy textweight/light cardstock
|super heavy cardstock
Different Types of Fiber
Cardstock is characteristically made from paper pulp or pure cellulose, but some brands are sold specifically as "pulp free." Common varieties include 100% hemp and 100% kenaf, made of fiber from the Hibiscus plant, as well as 100% residual vegetable fiber, all of which are made without any material from trees. In addition to whatever basic fiber they use, some types may have rice husks, flower petals, and sparkles as well as other additives such as seeds, bark, and leaves for texture and decoration.
Manufacturers offer a wide range of colors and even color families, including dark, medium, and light hues, for many different paper types. There are bright, parchment, and pastel shades of cardstock, with metallic colors also available. In addition, some companies make paper with intricate patterns, similar to fine wrapping paper or wallpaper, which is sometimes called “embellishment paper.”
Types of Finish and Surface Texture
Paper manufacturers use the word "finish" to describe two different features of paper in general. First, it describes sheen, with a range including matte, semi-matte or luster, semi-gloss, and glossy. Though a matte finish is quite common, there are also a few glossy options available. This is a description of how shiny the paper is and often indicates how well the paper absorbs certain types of ink and printing.
"Finish" can also refer to surface texture that covers a wide range of choices such as "laid," which is machine-made paper with a pattern of parallel lines. "Vellum" refers to paper finished to appear like the writing material "vellum," which may be either prepared animal skin or parchment and has a slightly rough finish. "Linen" textures appear like linen, a woven cloth often used as canvas. Manufacturers make "felt" paper with patterned wool or felt for a softer feel. "Embossed" paper has a raised feature created by pressing or hammering a design onto its back.
A variety of sizes are available, often based on expected uses and customer needs for paper. Some popular sizes of cardstock include 3.5 x 5 inches (8.89 x 12.7 cm) and 4 x 8 inches (10.16 x 20.32 cm). "Letter" size paper measures at 8.5 x 11 inches (21.59 x 27.94 cm) and people commonly use this for basic printing and as a solid sheet for numerous smaller printings, such as business cards.