What Is Cardstock: A Guide To Paper Powerhouses

In the realm of paper, where delicate sheets whisper secrets and flimsy pages hold fleeting thoughts, stands a champion of sturdiness: cardstock. This unsung hero, thicker and stronger than its regular paper brethren, forms the backbone of countless creative endeavors.

But what is cardstock exactly, and what makes it so special? Buckle up, paper adventurers, as we delve into the fascinating world of this versatile medium.

What Is Cardstock?

What Kind Of Paper Is a Cardstock?

Cardstock is made from wood pulp, cotton, or other fibers that are processed and pressed into sheets of paper. The quality and composition of cardstock depend on the type and amount of fibers, the degree of bleaching, the additives, and the finishing treatments.

Cardstock can have different colors, textures, finishes, and coatings, depending on the intended use and preference of the user. One of the main features that distinguish cardstock from regular paper is its weight. Another feature that defines cardstock is its thickness, which is measured by the caliper or the point.

The Different And Mostly Used Weights Of Card Stock

The Different And Mostly Used Weights Of Card Stock

As mentioned, cardstock can have different weights depending on the type and amount of fibers, the additives, and the finishing treatments. The weight of cardstock affects its durability, appearance, and suitability for different applications.

Generally, the heavier the cardstock, the more durable and premium it is, but also the more difficult it is to fold, cut, or print on. Here are the common weight ranges for card printing:

Playing Cards:

– Lighter: 260gsm – 280gsm (11pt – 12pt) – Offers smooth shuffling but might feel flimsy.

– Standard: 300gsm – 310gsm (14pt) – Popular choice for a good balance between durability and flexibility.

– Premium: 330gsm – 350gsm (16pt – 18pt) – Thicker, sturdier cards with luxurious feel but can be slightly harder to shuffle.

Tarot Cards:

– Standard: 300gsm – 330gsm (14pt – 16pt) – Offers good balance for handling larger cards.

– Premium: 350gsm – 400gsm (18pt – 20pt) – Luxurious feel and extra durability, but shuffling might require some breaking in.

Ultimately, the best weight depends on personal preference and intended use. And there are some additional points to consider:

– Lighter cards shuffle more easily but may wear out faster with heavy use.

– Heavier cards feel more substantial and durable but can be trickier to shuffle initially.

– Budget also plays a role, with heavier card stocks generally costing more.

The Different And Mostly Used Thickness Of Card Stock

Thickness Of Card Stock Guide

Thickness is just one part of the weight equation for card stock, but it’s helpful to consider both, especially for card games and trading cards!

Here’s a breakdown of typical thicknesses for playing cards and tarot cards:

Playing Cards:

– Lighter: 0.30mm – 0.32mm

– Standard: 0.33mm – 0.35mm

– Premium: 0.36mm – 0.38mm

Tarot Cards:

– Standard: 0.35mm – 0.38mm

– Premium: 0.38mm – 0.42mm


– These are just averages, and exact thickness can vary within a weight range depending on the card stock’s composition and manufacturing process.

– Thickness alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Card stock weight, which factors in both thickness and density, is a better indicator of how a card will feel and handle.

– Some premium card stocks, like plastic or linen, can be thinner than standard paper card stock while still feeling thicker and more substantial due to their higher density.

– If you’re concerned about thickness impacting shuffling, opt for a smoother finish on your card stock, as textured finishes can create more friction.

The best thickness for your cards depends on what you prioritize. If you want thin and flexible cards for easy shuffling, choose a lighter weight or a plastic card stock. If you want sturdy and luxurious cards that feel thick in your hand, opt for a heavier weight or a linen finish.

Cardboard vs Cardstock

Cardboard vs Cardstock

Cardboard is usually made from unbleached wood pulp and has a brown or gray color. It can have different structures and compositions, such as corrugated cardboard, which has a fluted layer sandwiched between two flat layers, or chipboard, which is made from recycled paper and has a smooth surface.

In card printing, cardboard is mainly used for packaging, shipping, and storing goods, as well as for making rigid box inters. The main differences between cardboard and cardstock are:

– Thickness: Cardboard is thicker and more rigid than cardstock. Cardboard can have a thickness of 0.3 to 0.5 inch, while cardstock can have a thickness of 0.006 to 0.024 inch.

– Weight: Cardboard is heavier and more dense than cardstock. Cardboard can weigh 200 to 600 gsm, while cardstock can weigh 135 to 300 gsm.

– Appearance: Cardboard is usually brown or gray and has a rough and uneven surface. Cardstock can have different colors and has a smooth and even surface.

– Durability: Cardboard is more durable and resistant to moisture, tearing, and crushing than cardstock. Cardstock is more prone to warping, cracking, and fading than cardboard.

– Flexibility: Cardboard is less flexible and harder to fold, cut, or print on than cardstock. Cardstock is more flexible and easier to work with than cardboard.


The above is the answer to what is cardstock. Remember, these are just general guidelines. Different brands and manufacturers may have slight variations in weight and thickness. Always check the specifications before purchasing to ensure you get the perfect cardstock for your needs.