What is the best card stock or cardboard for your paper crafts?
After several people asked me about the types of cardboard I use with my paper crafts, I decided to write about features and benefits the different types of paper and cardboard. Mostly I am going to talk about the weight of the paper. For making 3-dimensional paper crafts, that is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind. When you are making your paper projects, you need to know if the paper or cardboard will score well, fold nicely, curve if you need it to curve. And you need to know how long it will last. Specifically, is your paper choice sturdy enough to withstand a curious child playing with it? Children are intrigued by miniature houses in particular. They can’t even help themselves from touching them. So if you are going to work on a miniature house masterpiece you want it to withstand pokey little fingers.
Most paper products that we use are made with wood pulp, but that was not always true. Many other materials have been used such as cotton and linen.
How is paper graded or categorized?
First, just a sentence about the weight of paper. In the U.S. we talk about the weight of paper in pounds, but it doesn’t really mean that is what the paper actually weighs. And there is a difference between paper and card stock that doesn’t make any sense to me at all – so sometimes the weight in paper and card stock have the same number but one is thicker than another. But the metric system of paper weight (in grams per square meter = gsm) is much simpler because that number refers to the actual weight of the paper.
So in the US system just remember that the heavier the weight, the thicker the paper or card stock or cardboard.
After we get out of the paper category, cardboard is best measured according to thickness with a caliper micrometer. In addition sometimes cardboard is measured in points as the unit. One point is 1/1000 of an inch or 0.001″. I don’t have calipers that can measure my cardboard so I’m going to show you the thickness in a video.
And finally, we have corrugated cardboard. The main thing to know about corrugated cardboard is how strong it is – mostly that is based on the thickness and whether it is one or two layers. I’ll show you some examples in the video.
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Now here is a list showing the different weights of paper and cardboard:
- Paper – generally weighs between 20-24 pounds. Copy paper is the reference example at 20 pounds or 75 gsm.
- Card stock – Most often we use card stock weighing 65-110 pounds (175-300 gsm)
- Heavy Watercolor Paper – 140#
- Mixed Media Paper – 184#
- Recycled cereal, food boxes
- Lightweight Poster board
- Backing on a Notebook paper pad
- Other cardboards
- Corrugated Cardboard based on thickness and number or corrugated layers
Paper for paper crafts
Mostly I use paper for either stamping or for paper mache or to cover the cardboard bases for my little houses.
Stamping on thick watercolor paper on the Apothecary House
Paper Mache Egg covered with paper mache covered with brown paper
Cardboard base for the Sea Worn Beach House covered with brown packing paper
Card Stock for Paper Crafts
Card stock is also categorized based on weight just like paper generally ranging from 65#-110#. When you go to a craft store, you can find 65# card stock in many colors. That weight of paper is easy to find. In addition you can find heavier card stock in neutral colors – mostly white and black. So when I use the heavier cardstock, I often paint it in the desired color shade.
In the video, I showed you how flexible 65# paper is. It’s a good paper weight if you need a sharp fold or to curve your paper like on a witch’s hat.
Also the leaves were punched out of watercolor paper.
For the Holiday Manor pop-up house card I used #65 card stock for the house itself, but #110 card stock for the back piece.
I just love these specialty papers – in particular this watercolor paper and the mixed media paper because they are so sturdy. Also they often have a great texture on them so they are great for special effects and distressing. You can easily make little houses out of these papers, but they won’t be quite as sturdy as cardboard. But one advantage is that it is easier to cut this weight of paper by hand.
Cardboard is categorized by the thickness with a micrometer caliper. Recycled cardboard cereal and food boxes work pretty well for making little paper houses or Putz houses, but they are not as thick as they used to be so you may need to double up on the thickness.
Poster board works as well, but the inexpensive poster board is pretty flexible as well.
One common source of good cardboard is the back of notebook pads. This is the weight of cardboard that I use most often for my little cardboard houses. in the photo below I think you can get an idea of how thick the cardboard is.
And at the back of the specialty art paper pads is the best cardboard because it is so thick. I save that for special projects.
Generally, you can tell how stiff corrugated cardboard is by how close the corrugations are to each other and how many layers of corrugations there are.
You can make little houses out of corrugated cardboard but you have to cut each side separately and use hot glue to glue the sides together. It’s not the best material for that.
I do use corrugated cardboard to make my cardboard bases for little houses.
I even used it for a big Halloween house that I wore as a costume to a Halloween party one year.
So that is an outline of paper and cardboard to help you make choices on what type of paper to use for your cardboard creations.
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