Quick and Easy Guide to Cardstock Sizes and Paper Weights

9 minute read

Choosing the right cardstock for your paper crafting project can be a daunting task. There are just so many cardstock weights and sizes available! That's why it's essential to understand your options well to make an informed decision. If you're unsure about the type of cardstock you're using, worry not! With the abundance of choices out there, it's easy to lose track, but fear not, for we're here to guide you!

In the following sections, we'll delve deeper into the diverse world of cardstock paper! We will explore the various paper weights, sizes, and finishes available to understand their characteristics and how you can use them best. So, keep on reading to unlock the secrets on selecting the perfect cardstock for your creative endeavors!

Different types of cardstock and paper

Altenew Papers & Envelopes

What Is Cardstock?

Cardstock is a thicker, heavier, and more durable type of paper. It is the best paper for card making and paper crafting. It usually has a smooth surface and can be metallic, textured, or glossy. It is sturdier and heavier than your average paper, making it perfect for various arts and crafts projects!

Moreover, it is more flexible and thinner than paperboard and cardboard. It is a versatile type of paper that can elevate any handmade creation and add a more professional look to brochures, pamphlets, business cards, greeting cards, invitations, and more.

A beautiful card design made with blue cardstock and gold mirror cardstock die-cuts

Gold Mirror Cardstock (5 sheets/set)

How to Use Cardstock in Paper Crafting

In today's modern era, you might think that finding creative uses for paper would be challenging. However, thanks to the incredible influence of social media, the art of paper crafting has experienced a remarkable surge in popularity over the past few years. 

Among the various options available, thick cardstock has emerged as a favored choice for various DIY craft projects, such as cardmaking, scrapbooking, mixed media art, and even journaling. The versatility of this paper makes it exceptionally well-suited for both wet and dry techniques, solidifying its reputation as the ultimate choice for crafting exquisite cards, layouts, and pages.

A beautiful birthday card featuring red and pink glitter cardstock from Altenew

Glitter Gradient Cardstock Set - Pink Brilliance

Types of Cardstock Texture and Finishes

While it is essential to understand cardstock sizes and weights, learning about the various texture and finishes is equally essential, especially in paper crafting. 

  1. Vellum is a fine parchment paper that can range from semi-transparent to almost opaque. It is typically made of calf’s skin. This type of paper is perfect for die cutting, layering, and experimenting with different types of cardmaking techniques! 
  2. Iridescent cardstock refers to a type of paper or cardstock that has a shimmering or rainbow-like effect when it catches the light. It is designed to display a range of colors depending on the angle from which it is viewed.
  3. Textured cardstock is made up of various fiber or other content that gives it a unique texture. The standard textures include linen, canvas, wood grain, bark, etc. Unlike smooth cardstock, which has a plain and flat surface, textured cardstock adds dimension and tactile interest to various crafting projects. 
  4. Glossy cardstock has a shiny or lustrous coating. The glossy finish on the cardstock gives it a polished and professional look, enhancing the visual appeal of printed images or designs. This type of cardstock is often preferred when you want to achieve vibrant colors, sharp details, and a glossy sheen on your printed or crafted pieces. 
  5. Matte cardstock has a non-reflective and muted coating, giving it a flat and smooth look. It is often preferred for certain applications where a subtle look is desired, such as artistic prints, invitations, brochures, or any project where glare from lighting or fingerprints may be a concern.
  6. Glitter cardstock, as the name suggests, has a glitter coating available in different colors. It adds a touch of glamour and eye-catching appeal to any project, making it a popular choice for special occasions, festive decorations, and projects that require a bit of extra sparkle.

Your Ultimate Guide to Everything About Cardstock! 

Colored cardstock paper from Altenew

Altenew Cardstock & Scrapbooking Paper

Commonly Asked Questions About Cardstock

Are you still confused about what cardstock to use for your projects? We’re here to some of your burning questions about everything related to cardstock weights and sizes!

Is 65 LB or 110 LB Cardstock Thicker?

The rule of thumb is, the higher the GSM (grams per square meter), the thicker and heavier the cardstock is. A 65 lb cardstock would have a GSM of 176, whereas a 110 lb cardstock would have a GSM between 270 - 308.

However, understanding paper weight is a bit tricky because it depends on the type, manufacturing process, and category of paper. A paper that has a higher “lb” or pound doesn’t automatically make it thicker or heavier. For instance, a 67 lb Vellum Bristol Paper has a lower GSM than a 65 lb cardstock (cover). 

A scrapbook layout featuring some blue glitter cardstock from Altenew

Glitter Gradient Cardstock Set - Blue Crystals

How Do You Know What Cardstock Weight to Get?

Cardstock weights have increased in recent years. The most popular cardstock weights are 80 lb, 90 lb, 110 lb, and 130 lb. Heavier cardstocks like 300 lb cover the gamut from super heavy-duty to really thin! Each paper weight is a specific thickness that will affect the versatility of your handmade projects. So what's the difference? Let's break it down: 

          • 80 lb cardstock - This is the thinnest option available with a very light feel to it. This paper is easy to fold but not as durable because there isn't much weight in the stock. Great for scrapbookers who need to make more folds or paper crafters who want a lightweight feel on their project.  
          • 90 lb cardstock - This is a thicker option that feels sturdy when you hold it in your hand and has some substance to it even when folded over multiple times (think greeting cards). 
          • 110 lb cardstock - The most popular cardstock weight is 110 lb, which is an excellent all-purpose weight for projects that need to be printed on both sides. It's a great medium for scrapbooking and handmade greeting cards. 
          • 130 lb cardstock - This is not just thicker and heavier; it has more texture too. 

8.5 x 11 white thick cardstock from Altenew

Classic Crest Solar White Cardstock (25 sheets/set) (110lb)

What Sizes Does Cardstock Come In?

To understand cardstock sizes, you need to know the different grades and categories of paper first.

          1. Book - 25 x 38
          2. Bond - 17 x11
          3. Cover - 20 x 26
          4. Bristol - 22.5 x 28.5
          5. Index - 25.5 x 30.5 
          6. Tag - 24 x 36

Cardstock Sizes In Cardmaking and Paper Crafting

There are many different types of cardstock sizes, but there are the most common ones:

  • Letter Size: The standard letter size cardstock measures 8.5 inches by 11 inches (21.6 cm by 27.9 cm). This size is widely used for printing, crafting, and card making.
  • Legal Size: The legal size cardstock measures 8.5 inches by 14 inches (21.6 cm by 35.6 cm). It is slightly longer than the letter size and is commonly used for legal documents, certificates, and larger projects.
  • A4 Size: A4 cardstock is the international standard size, measuring 8.27 inches by 11.69 inches (21 cm by 29.7 cm). It is commonly used in countries outside of North America and is compatible with A4 paper sizes for consistency in printing and crafting.
  • Square Sizes: Square cardstock is available in various dimensions, such as 4 inches by 4 inches (10.2 cm by 10.2 cm), 5 inches by 5 inches (12.7 cm by 12.7 cm), and 6 inches by 6 inches (15.2 cm by 15.2 cm). Square cardstock is popular for creating cards, invitations, and origami projects.
  • Custom Sizes: Cardstock can also be obtained in custom sizes, which can vary depending on the manufacturer or print shop. These sizes are often tailored to specific project requirements and can range from smaller sizes to larger formats.

Each specific size caters to a different type of paper craft. The standard size for handmade cards is half of an 8 ½ inches by 11 inches cardstock paper, folded in half. This is also known as an A2 size card. Although, you can always buy large cardstock and score or fold them according to your needs. Most crafts stores sell pre-scored or cut cardstock for easy cardmaking and paper crafting. Since this type of paper is durable, it is easily customizable.

Slimline card using patterned paper pack

Wildflower Collection Paper & Ephemera Bundle

Apart from the standard A2 card size, slimline cards have also recently taken the card making world by storm. Overall, cardstock sizes may vary according to the crafter's needs and wants, but all cards should generally fit into a #10 envelope or a business envelope. Here are some of the commonly used card sizes for cardmaking and scrapbooking:  

          • 4.25" x 5.05" - One of the smallest cardstock size, this compact cardstock is perfect for use as calling cards, memos, and index cards. 
          • 5" x 7" - This is the common size for smaller cards, including easy-to-use note cards. 
          • 6” x 6” - Some crafters like creating 6x6 cards, which is the perfect size to fully utilize the beautiful designs of Altenew's Stencils! 
          • 8” x 8” - This size is a bit smaller than the standard cardstock size, making it ideal to use for card panels and card bases.  
          • 8.5” x 11” - This is the standard paper size. It is also a cardstock size and can be cut and used for handmade cards.
          • 12” x 12” - This is the standard size for scrapbook layouts.
          • 3.5” x 8.5” - The size for the popular slimline cards.

What Is the Weight of Cardstock Paper?

The basis weight of paper is measured in pounds (lbs) per 500 sheets or one ream. Take note that the actual weight and the paper weight are two different things. For instance, a regular 20 lb copy (bond) paper is also referred to as a 50 lb text (offset) paper. They might be different paper grades, but they have the same GSM.

You may find yourself wondering, what's the difference between cardstock weight and thickness? Cardstock thicknesses are measured in pounds of paper per ream, while cardstock paper weights measure grams per square meter. 

The most common weight is 80 lb cardstock, weighing approximately 225 GSM (grams per square meter) or 400 sheets to a ream. This type of cardstock is usually used for invitations and business cards. The next step up from this would be 110 lb cardstock which weighs 360gms/m2 or 500 sheets to a ream - this type of paper can also be used for invitations, but it's more commonly found in postcards and handmade greeting cards.

White cardstock from Altenew

12x12 White Cardstock (10 sheet/set) (80lb)

Cardstock Weights

GSM (Grams per Square Meter) is used to measure paper. Measurement is done from a sample sheet cut to one square meter in size. Regardless of the paper’s width or length, its weight is still measured from the square meter sheet. Thick cardstock usually has higher GSM and is, therefore, heavier and more durable than cardstock with lower GSM.

Learn more about the standard cardstock weight in GSM and when to use them.

          • 350-450 GSM – This heavy cardstock is often used for business cards, handmade cards, and invitations.
          • 210-300 GSM – Another thick cardstock that is still bendable, even though it is stiffer. This one is ideal for magazine covers, watercolors, paintings, and high-quality flyers.
          • 120-140 GSM – This is perfect for promotional posters, movie theater posters, and shop posters. 
          • 90-100 GSM – This is also known as regular printer paper.
          • 75-90 GSM – While not ideal for heavy inks and alcohol markers, this is the typical paper used in sketch pads or notebooks.

A stunning floral card with a die-cut flower made from Altenew gradient cardstock

Gradient Cardstock Set - Green Meadows

Things to Consider When Buying Cardstock

Paper is a material that we all use daily, but there are some things you want to consider when it comes to cardstock. Do you know what to look for when buying cardstock? From weight to texture, there are so many factors that go into finding the right cardstock paper. These are just a few questions you can ask yourself when buying cardstock paper for your next handmade project!

          1. What’s the weight of the paper?
          2. What cardstock size do you need?
          3. How heavy-duty do you need it for your project? If you’re going to do water-based techniques or mixed media art, you’re going to need thick cardstock.
          4. Is the cardstock acid-free, or will it turn yellow over time? 
          5. What kind of finish do you need? Glossy, smooth, vellum?

Shop for the Best Cardstock for Paper Crafting Here! 

Now that we’ve explored the different cardstock weights and cardstock sizes, it’s up to you to decide which one suits your needs! Understanding the differences can help make or break your next DIY project. Remember, your artwork needs a great canvas.Start with a decent and high-quality cardstock paper, and everything else will follow.

We hope this guide has helped clear some of the confusion for you! And if not? No worries - just let us know in the comment section below, and we’ll be happy to answer some more questions!

Your Ultimate Guide to Paper Crafting

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