Which thick paper for printing is best?

Every year, the average office worker uses over 10,000 pieces of printing paper. Add in the printing paper used at home and in schools, and it’s no surprise that Americans use more printing paper than any other country.

Standard printing paper works great for general documents and photocopying, but sometimes thicker paper is needed or wanted. Printing presentations and photos, or wanting to preserve documents, may require a heavier-weight paper. Finding the right weight of paper for your needs and your printer is an important endeavor. For its brightness and toner friendliness, the top choice is the Hammermill 32-Pound Premium Printing Paper.

What to know before you buy a thick paper for printing

Printing paper comes in different weights

When it comes to printing paper, there are different weights which correlate to thickness. Thicker paper is heavier. Twenty-pound paper is most common, but for presentations and special projects, you may want 20- to 32-pound paper. Legal documents, resumes and some artwork may use 32- to 36-pound paper. Cardstock of 65 pounds and above is used for brochures and folders.

Printing paper can be coated or uncoated

Thick printing paper comes either coated or uncoated. Paper coating affects the ability of ink to soak into the fibers, which can greatly affect its appearance as the ink dries. Ink sits on top of coated paper, while uncoated paper allows the ink to soak in. Typically, coated paper will have a shinier appearance for the ink.

Printing paper has different finishes

Printing paper comes with different finishes depending on your need as to how things look in the end. Most printing paper has a smooth finish, but there are others like vellum, which has a rough texture. Embossed finishes give a molded appearance. Metallic paper comes with a thin layer of metal or plastic to give a shiny appearance. A linen finish resembles cloth.

What to look for in quality thick paper for printing


Brightness with thick printing paper refers to the reflectance of blue lightwaves, measured on a scale from 0 to 100. Most white printing paper runs 92 to 100 on the scale, which is the brightest available. Depending on your need, look for the brightness number when purchasing.


The transparent quality of paper is known as opacity. Even though transparency is more common in thinner papers like vellum, thick printing paper still has a level of opacity. You may want a little opacity depending on your printing project, so make sure you look for that ahead of time.


Over time, printing paper will discolor due to the acid naturally occurring with the wood products used to make the paper. Acid-free paper removes this acid through alkaline buffering. Acid-free printing paper won’t yellow or become brittle over time, so this allows you to keep your documents in lasting condition.

How much you can expect to spend on a thick paper for printing

Thick paper for printing typically costs between $7-$9 per 500-count ream, although colored and recycled paper can cost closer to $11 per ream. Traditional, lighter-weight copy paper costs between $5-$6 per ream. Cardstock and photo paper runs $20 to as much as $50 per ream.

Thick paper for printing FAQ

Does using an inkjet or laser printer make a difference with thick paper for printing?     

A. Both styles of printers will print on thicker paper. Keep in mind that an inkjet printer uses ink and is intended for low-volume, at-home printing. If you have a large project or need to print a high volume, then a laser printer may be the better option since it uses toner.

Why is recycled printing paper more expensive than original printing paper?

A. There are several reasons. Recycled paper is collected from different sources and compiled together. It has to be bleached to remove the ink and also decontaminated. These processes add to the overall cost.

What are the best thick papers for printing to buy?

Top thick paper for printing

Hammermill Premium Printing Paper – 32 Pound

Hammermill Premium Printing Paper – 32 Pound

What you need to know: From one of the leading brand names in printing paper, this bright white copy paper is ideal for presentations, brochures and photographs.

What you’ll love: This 32-pound paper has a high-tech design for all your printing needs. It has a 100 brightness rating, so colors have a true reproduction. The smooth finish is ideal for toner. The paper is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

What you should consider: It can be challenging for some printers to print on both sides with this thickness of paper.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Top thick paper for printing for money

HP Premium Printing Paper – 32 Pound

HP Premium Printing Paper – 32 Pound

What you need to know: A premium choice for your thick paper printing needs, this printer paper is extra bright and smooth for optimal color display.

What you’ll love: This 32-pound paper has a 100 brightness rating and 163 whiteness rating for maximizing the color presentation. It is acid-free to prevent yellowing over time. Made in America from a leading brand, this thick paper is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

What you should consider: There were some reports of wrinkled pages in a ream. It is difficult for some printers to print on both sides with this paper.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Worth checking out

Epson Premium Presentation Paper

Epson Premium Presentation Paper

What you need to know: When having a professional-looking presentation, brochure or photographs is essential, this is a high-quality option.

What you’ll love: This extra-heavy, 48-pound paper is ideal for non-glare photographs and other presentation needs. It works well for inkjet printers. It is promised to not fade for up to 70 years. The matte finish is perfect for crafts and projects.

What you should consider: It is expensive and typically comes in either 50- or 100-count packages.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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