All About Paper Finishes

Paper is paper, right? Wrong.

Think of paper like a carpenter thinks about wood. Just like different woods are better suited for different purposes, certain papers are better for certain uses. For example, heavier weight cardstock is better for business cards and paper crafting because it’s more durable than text paper. Similarly, linen textured paper connotes an elegance and professionalism that you really don’t need to worry about if you’re simply photocopying a document.

So in addition to thinking about paper weight and paper size, you should also consider paper finish when choosing the right paper for your project.

What is Paper Finish?

Have you ever noticed that some papers are rougher or more textured than others? This texture is called “paper finish”.

Generally speaking, different paper finishes can fall into two basic categories: smooth or textured. There are different smooth finishes and there are different textured finishes, each with their own unique production methods and ideal uses.

Smooth Paper Finishes

Smooth paper finishes may be smooth to the touch and to your eye, but there are still subtle differences in texture. Wove, bond, and vellum are some of the most common smooth paper finishes – along with the eponymous “smooth” finish.


Wove finish is one of the most commonly used finishes for general printing. It’s the standard paper finish, so if your paper package doesn’t indicate a finish, it’s probably wove.

Wove paper is slightly textured but mostly smooth to the touch. It’s similar to laid paper, but without the textured patterns. More on that later.

Check out our selection of wove papers.


Don’t confuse vellum finish with translucent vellum paper! Unlike translucent vellum, vellum finish paper is all-purpose. It’s smooth to the eye but it has a fine texture to the touch, almost like an eggshell.

Vellum paper is commonly used to create the interior pages of books, fine catalogues, newsletters, direct mail, or manuals.

Take a look at our selection of vellum paper.


Smooth paper finish is – you guessed it – about as smooth as you can get. Smooth paper is made smooth by passing paper through a set of rollers in a process known as “calendaring”.

Smooth paper is suitable for any use, from personal stationery to business correspondence to brochures and pamphlets.

Shop for smooth paper.

Laser Smooth

Laser smooth paper features a highly calendared super smooth finish, and it’s usually low moisture to prevent paper from curling in the high heat of laser printers.

Because it’s often manufactured in cut sizes, laser smooth paper is best suited for use in laser printers.

Check out our selection of laser smooth paper.

Textured Paper Finishes

Textured paper finishes are textured visually and to the touch.

The most common textured paper finishes are linen, felt, and laid. Textured paper adds a bit of gravitas and elegance to your paper projects, so try using a textured finish to create a standout business card or for your DIY wedding invitations.


Linen textured paper resembles linen cloth. Surprising, right? The linen texture is usually produced after the papermaking process in an offline embossing process.

Linen texture is a classic, elegant paper choice that’s well suited to a variety of paper projects, like covers, brochures, personal stationery, business correspondence, homemade greeting cards, and wedding stationery.

Shop our range of linen textured papers.


Laid paper texture, which strives to emulate the look of fine handcrafted paper, features fine lines running across the page both horizontally and vertically. The grid texture, which is created using a special roller, simulates the pattern created by the screens that used to be used in handmade papermaking.

Laid paper is commonly used for covers and brochures. Take a look at our selection of laid paper.


Like laid paper, felt textures are created using a special roller. Felt textures can also be made offline using actual felt applied to the paper while it’s still very wet (this is called “genuine felt finish”), but more commonly, felt paper finishes are created using rubber marking rolls. Machine felt finish is less authentic, but it’s more economical.

Like laid paper, felt paper is also commonly used for covers and brochures.

Check out our selection of felt paper.

The Finish Line

Between choosing the right paper weight, size, and finish, choosing the perfect paper isn’t as simple as you might have thought. But it’s not a decision to be taken lightly – just like a carpenter thinks about which wood is best for their project, so should you think about which paper will best carry your message.

Shop our full selection of paper finishes.

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