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Quick Guide to Cardstock Sizes and Paper Weights

Cardstock weights and sizes vary greatly depending on the manufacturer, so it is important to understand your options before deciding which one will work best for you. Do you know what type of cardstock paper you are using? There are so many different types of cardstock out there; it can be hard to keep track. If you're looking for a heavier weight than 110 lb (the standard), perhaps 220 lb or even 300 lb might fit your needs better. On the other hand, if you want something lighter that folds easily, 120 lb may be the right choice! 

Keep on reading to get a better idea of the different types of cardstock paper weights, sizes, and finishes and how to use them!

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. 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.

Cardstock paper for card making

Orange Cream Cardstock (10 sheets/set)

Cardstock Paper in Paper Crafting

In this day and age, you would think that it’ll be difficult to find things to make out of paper. However, thanks to the power of social media, the paper crafting industry has seen a considerable boom in recent years. Thick cardstock is a popular choice for card making, scrapbooking, mixed media art, and even journaling. Because it renders well to a wide variety of wet and dry techniques, this is the best paper for card making

Glitter cardstock from Altenew

Glitter Gradient Cardstock Set - Pink Brilliance

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.
  2. Iridescent cardstock’s coating displays a spectrum of colors that shimmer and change as the observer's position changes.
  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.
  4. Glossy cardstock has a shiny or lustrous coating.
  5. Matte cardstock has a dull or lusterless coating.
  6. Glitter cardstock, as the name suggests, has a colored glitter coating. 

Feel free to check Altenew's guide to card stock papers here!

Colored cardstock paper from Altenew

Altenew Cardstock & Scrapbooking Paper

Common Cardstock Questions

Are you still confused? We’re answering 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, 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 and category of paper. A paper that has a higher “lb” 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). 

Card made with white 110lb cardstock

Rennie Roses Stamp & Die & Mask Stencil Bundle

How do you know what weight cardstock 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 Card Making

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 card stock paper, folded in half. This is also known as an A2 size card. Although, you can always buy large thick cardstock and score or fold them according to your needs. Most crafts stores sell pre-scored or cut cardstock for easy card making 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

Slimline cards have recently taken the card making world by storm. The cardstock sizes vary, but they should fit into a #10 envelope or a business envelope. Here are some of the commonly used sizes for card making and scrapbooking:  

  • 6” x 6” 
  • 8” x 8”
  • 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.

Gradient cardstock sets from Altenew

New Purple & Summer Afternoon Gradient Cardstock Bundle

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 black and white card stock papers now!

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!