Paper & Paper Based Board – A Complete Guide

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We don’t use all type of cellulose fibers to create cardboard. Cardboard, paperboard, and paper have two distinct meaning on which we will discuss later. Many people ask this question about the types and details of paper and paper-based boards. So, after doing some research, I’ve compiled this article to give you a complete guide on the types of paper, paperboards, their usage and more.

Different Types of Paper You Should Know

Paper is a felt sheet made of plant fiber. Today, you use a variety of material including cotton, sugar cane and straw to make it. Paper is mostly made from cellulose fiber made from wood.  You can derive cellulose fiber from a number of plants; the longer the fiber the stronger the paper. Different pulping methods also impact on the strength and structure of the paper. The most economical way of pulping is to mechanically extract cellulose from the wood by cutting it. On the other hand, this process reduced the cellulose fiber length. Moreover, there’s the chemical pulping which allows the cellulose fibers to remain intact, thereby producing stronger paper.

Here’s a Broad Categorization of Types of Paper

  1. Newsprint – This type of paper has a low brightness and high absorbency. It is made using 90% cheap wood pulp. As the name suggests, you can print newspaper using the paper and in packaging, use it as void-fill.
  2. Book Papers – It is the same as newsprint papers. Add with a clay coating to increase its appearance.
  3. Parchment Paper – It is made using chemical pulps. Pack it airtight to prevent it from absorbing fluids. Coat with a poly layer to improve its grease resistant capabilities.
  4. Tissue Paper – It commonly refers to lighter paper and often used as void-fill in packaging.
  5. Kraft Paper – It is one of the strongest types of paper available in the market. You can use kraft paper in paper bags, void fill, cushioning, and other packaging material for its ability to withstand high pressure.
  6. Bleached Kraft Paper – It is basically kraft paper with a bleach coating to make it ideal for printing and smoothen its surface.
  7. Label Paper – It is similar to book paper but with a special coating to improve its printing qualities.
  8. Pouch Papers – These are virgin kraft papers. And, to make it more flexible treat it with plasticizers.
  9. Container Boards –  Use this kraft board as liners in the fiberboard. It is strong because it is made of long cellulose fibers.

Common Paper Grades Used to Manufacture Boxes

Cardboard has many usages. From making boxes, to wrapping presents, retailers use different grade of paper materials. Many industries such as food, e-commerce and retail also use different paper grade materials.

01. CRB or CCNB (Coated Recycled Board or Clay Coated News Backboard)

It has a lower strength and poor print quality output, which is why it is mainly used in cheap folding cartons. This type of paperboard is made from recycled newsprint, old corrugated containers, and other mixed secondary paper materials. Its fibers are 100% recycled and over 30% of the material is considered ‘post-consumer’. It is made up of as many as nine layers of material with a top ply which is a semi-bleached fiber. CRB is the dominant type of paper material in North America.

CCNB is the common material used for low-cost folding carton boxes. You will find it used in single pouch cereal boxes and other material where box strength and print quality is not essential. Moreover, because of its one-direction stiffness advantage, it has some bulge resistance, making it ideal for packaging of granular products such as rice, grains and powdered items.

These cartons are used to pack dry food, pet food, detergents, and other dry items. Its primary disadvantage is their high absorbing property, which makes its usage limited to dry products only.

It is rarely used in manufacturing packaging boxes because of its high moisture retain, poor weather resistance and low printing quality output properties. However, retailers do use it when having a flash sale or deep sale of their products.

02. FBB (Folding Box Board)

It is a chemically and mechanically generated pulp material which makes it a stronger and durable paperboard. It is also preferred for printing because of the bleached chemical layer which holds prints longer and produces high-quality print output. Due to mechanical pulp composition, it provides a stiffer material, which is produced out of virgin fibers, making it suitable for most product packaging. It is a great paper material for packaging of food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

03. SBS (Solid Bleached Sulfate Board)

This type of board is considered the highest-quality and most expensive paper material to be used in product packaging. The cellulose fibers are chemically pulped and then bleached, which is then refined to produce boxes. SBS is the best grade and the most popular grade of paper material used for packaging in the USA. Over 70% of the world’s SBS paper comes from North America and is used mostly in retail packaging.

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Most SBS paper boards are clay coated to enhance its smoothness and print surface. It can also be treated with a moisture barrier produce packaging for liquid and food items. The high whiteness and brightness, making it ideal for packaging with high impact graphics. Can also be coated on only one side (C1S) or both sides (C2S)

The quality of the paper produced also allows for special printing such as embossing, debossing, foil stamping, UV printing etc.

SBS is the most preferred material to make packaging for food, cosmetics, confectionery, tobacco, and personal care items. It provides superior odor, taste and taint protection for food packaging.

It is mostly used in high-end packaging, where the print image is paramount such as in designer products and expensive items.

04. SUS or CUK (Solid Unbleached Sulfate or Coated Unbleached Kraft)

It is made from 100% recyclable material and is used for kraft packaging. To make it suitable for food packaging of wet strength it is often coated with a Polyethylene resin. To make CUK, at least 80% of virgin unbleached wood pulp is used. This is a strong and durable board with high crushing and tearing strength. This paperboard is also often coated with kaolin clay and titanium dioxide to improve its color output and print quality. For its strength, it is used in almost all industry in the economy and especially used for carrying beverages. It can also be coated with a moisture barrier to make it suitable for liquid and food packaging.

Broad Classification of Paperboard Grades Used in Packaging Industry

Paperboard is a type of board which is thicker than printer paper and is commonly used in the packaging industry. Here, we have made a broad classification of paperboard grades using in the industry.

  1. Chipboard – It is made from 100% recycled fiber and is the cheapest type of paperboard. It is commonly used to make partitions, backing, flat board and other secondary application in packaging items. It may contain stain due to the impurities present in recycled paper and is not suitable for printing or making packages.
  2. Bending Chipboard – This is relatively a better grade of chipboard with enough good quality fibers that enables it to be bent. However, it is still made mostly out of recycled fibers. It is often used in making affordable cartons where strength and appearance are not necessary.
  3. Lined Chipboard – This has go s white face liner which improves its appearance and is typically used for retail display purposes.
  4. Newsboard – These type of board is typically made from recycled newspaper and is used in making mailing cartons.
  5. Cardboard – Although cardboard is a generic term to refer to all types of paperboard, in the industry it mostly means corrugated cardboard. The fiberboard is made from longer cellulose fibers which give it its distinct strength and stiffness. This is the best material to be used in creating packaging boxes.

How Paper Materials are Classified Based on Their Characteristics

The paper materials are classified based on their characteristics and the methods are established by The American Society for Testing and Materials. Another organization who classifies paper is The Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper industry.

Here are a few characteristics that are tested to classify paper:

  1. Moisture – To check for moisture content in the paper it is tested by oven-drying and the value is also expressed on the basis of oven-dry.
  2. Thickness – To test a sheet of paper thickness, it is repeatedly compressed and the thickness is measured using a micrometer. Only after several readings, the final thickness reading is assigned to the paper.
  3. Brightness – Paper’s brightness is measured in spectral reflectance which is express between the number 1 to 100, where 100 is the brightest paper.
  4. Gloss – It is measured using specular gloss, which determines if the paper is ‘high’ gloss or ‘low’ gloss.
  5. Opacity – This property of the paper determines if the ink on the paper will show through on the reverse face when printed.
  6. Grease Resistance – For packaging food items, it is essential to measure a paper’s grease resistance. In this, a turpentine test is done to measure its resistance. Most kraft paper to be used in food packaging are poly coated to make it grease resistant.
  7. Stiffness – Paperboard’s ability to maintain its stiffness even at high pressure is essential for most packaging applications. Typically The Clark stiffness text is done for lightweight paperboard and a Taber stiffness test is done on heavier paperboard.
  8. Tensile Strength – It is measured to determine the paper strength in tension which is done using a pendulum instrument. It determines the force per width needed to break a specimen.
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Other Types of Paper and Board

There are various types of paper and boards. Paper is measured in grams per meter squared or gsm. Any kind of paper over 200 gsm is classified as a board. Normal book papers are nearly 80 gsm and a thick card nearly 500 gsm.

  1. Tracing paper (60/90 gsm) – It is translucent and strong, which makes it ideal for tracing find details. It is used for drawing purposes.
  2. Layout paper (50 gsm) – This is a thin transparent paper with a smooth surface and is used for sketching and designing ideas. It can also be used as tracing paper.
  3. Cartridge paper (120/150 gsm) – It is a creamy white paper with a light texture. This is generally used for professional drawing and can also be used to paint with watercolors or pastels.
  4. Photocopier paper (80 gsm) – This type of paper is generally used for photocopying and inkjet printing. However, it can also be used for drawing and painting with watercolor.
  5. Corrugated card (250+ gsm) – It is made from multiple layers of fluted medium and craft papers which gives it its distinct strength. It is the most common paperboard used to make package boxes.
  6. Bleed proof paper (120/150 gsm) – It is similar to cartridge paper but is good at separating water-based paints and pens.
  7. Sugar paper (100 gsm) – This type of paper comes in various colors and is used in tonal drawings and display work. It is available in various weights and textures for various purposes.
  8. Whiteboard (200/400 gsm) – Whiteboards are bleached to provide a good printing surface is a strong material, which makes it ideals for high-quality packaging and book cover.
  9. Duplex board (230/420 gsm) – It is a cheaper type of whiteboard and is used in food packaging.
  10. Inkjet paper (120/280 gsm) – This type of paper is treated so that it can be used by all types of inkjet printers. This is exclusively used to get high-quality finishes on inkjet printers.
  11. Cardboard (125/300 gsm) – It is a low-cost, recyclable, stiff board material which is used in making low-cost packaging boxes and cartons.

Corrugated Cardboard

Corrugated cardboard is used exclusively in manufacturing packaging boxes. It is made up of layers of paper; the outer thin layer is the liner and the arched paper in between is the flute. While manufacturing the stiff, fluted layer is sandwiched between two liner papers. Corrugated cardboard thickness can range from 0.25 mm to 7.9 mm.

Its unique properties make it perfect for packaging. The rigidity of its fluted structure makes it ideal to be lightweight as well as support heavy weight and pressure. These cardboard boxes are relatively flexible which makes it withstand rough handling during loading and unloading. Moreover, the fluted layer acts as a thermal insulator, keeping food items safe from temperature variation when package move from one country to another.

Corrugated Cardboard Types

  1. Chipboard – These are lightweight paperboard which goes through a press to make packaging cartons as well as scrapbooks and craft paper. There are also corrugates, that come in various colors, which goes into making crafts and art projects.
  2. Single Face Sheet – These single face sheets are basically a corrugate-medium with a layer of liner paper on one face. Its typical use is to wrap items for shipping which provides a cushion between item and box to prevent scratching and damage.
  3. Single Wall Board – ‘Single Wall Board’ or ‘Double Face’ board is a flute-medium with two lines of kraft paper on both sides. This is the most common type of cardboard sheet which goes into making cardboard boxes. The inner flutes also come in various shapes, on which we will discuss later. However, most single wall cardboard boxes use C-flutes to make it sturdier and ideal for shipping purposes.
  4. Double Wall Board – This consists of two flute-medium between three sheets of liner paper. It typically uses a B-flute and a C-flute, giving it the strength to withstand 350 pounds of weight. This is what goes into making most commercial shipping boxes children commonly use it to make cardboard houses and forts.
  5. Triple Wall Board – These boards consist of three flute-medium between four kraft paper liners. It is strong enough to substitute wooden crates and it typically goes into making industrial packaging.

Types of Cardboard Flute

Generally, there are 5 different styles of flutes:

  1. A-flute – This flute is the inverted S-shaped arch and is the original fluting grade. It is made of 36 fluted per foot and is 5mm thick.
  2. B-flute – It is the commonly used flute profile most boxes. It consists of 47 flutes per foot and is 3 mm thick.
  3. C-flute – This all-purpose flute type is used in shippers, shipping cartons etc. It consists of 42 flutes per foot and is 4mm thick.
  4. E-flute – It is the second most commonly used grade and consists of 90 flutes per foot and is 1.6mm thick.
  5. F-flute – This is a tighter fluting profile with 128 flutes per foot with a thickness of 0.8mm.
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Corrugated Cardboard Fun Facts

  1. The first commercially available corrugated box was manufactured in 1895.
  2. Before the advent of corrugated box, all shipping was done in wooden crates.
  3. Today, corrugated cardboard is used to ship nearly 90% of all products in the USA.
  4. Cardboard is a biodegradable product and is nontoxic, plus, it’s inexpensive and lightweight, making it a suitable product to manufacture packaging boxes.

Understanding Cardstock

What is cardstock?

Also called as cover stock, it is a durable and thicker paper than the usual copy paper and companies use it to make business cards, scrapbooks, catalogs etc. The good part is, it comes in various weights, colors, finishes, and sizes to meet your needs.

When it comes to weight, any paper over 32lb is a cardstock. The usual copy paper is around 20lb to 30lb. Other than the usual cover stock, there is index and bristol cardstock. A Bristol cardstock is lighter at 67lb, whereas an index cardstock is a smoother version with paper-weight between 90lb and 110lb. The usual cover stock comes in 65lb to 100lb.

Various surface finished of cardstock

  1. Matte – A matte surface is rough which gets a chemical treatment to produce a satin finish. This type of cardstock goes into making greeting cards and scrapbooks as it works well with inks and pigments.
  2. Glossy – As the name suggests, it has a shiny, piano finish surface. This cardstock surface is non-absorbent so, dry ink may dry on the surface but pigment ink has to be embossed.
  3. Coated – This cardstock gets additional coats to increase its opacity. Color pencil and markers are great to scribble on the cardstock but pigment ink should be embossed.
  4. Colored paper – You will find these type of colored cardstock in assorted packs, which is often found in art supplies. These papers are exclusively used for crafting.
  5. Patterned – Typically it comes with a pattern print which is ideal for scrapbooking.
  6. Mirrored – It has a shiny metallic effect which will give your craft a dramatic appearance.
  7. Glitter – It is basically cardstock that has glitter stuck on the paper, making it ideal for crafting.

Cardstock comes in a number of sizes and patterns. However, it is important to find archival or acid-free cardstock for permanent crafting purposes as they last longer and don’t get yellow over time.

Startling Cardboard Waste Facts

  1. Cardboard and paper constitute over 40% of solid waste streams
  2. An average household dumps away nearly 12,000 pieces of cardboard every year.
  3. The amount of cardboard thrown away every year is enough to heat 50 million houses
  4. The USA dumps over 800 million tonnes of cardboard and paper every year
  5. Amount of cardboard dumped away equal to around 1 billion trees
  6. An average American uses nearly 7 trees per year in the form of paper and cardboard
  7. The USA consumes approximately 100 billion corrugate boxes every year
  8. The USA and the EU use packaging cardboards for nearly 80% of products which amounts to over 400 billion sq feet of cardboard.

Cardboard Recycling Facts

  1. To recycle cardboards it takes 25% less energy than to make a new cardboard
  2. Recycling cardboards produce 50% less Sulphur Dioxide tan making new cardboard from raw materials.
  3. Save nearly 2 million metric ton of waste from landfill every year just by recycling cardboard.
  4. Corrugated boxes are made from over 70% recycled material and can be transformed from recycled material to finished product in just 14 days.
  5. Recycling one metric ton of cardboard will save over 45 gallons of oil, 4000 kW of electricity, 9 cubic yards of landfill space and over 7000 gallons of water.


Paper and paper products take a lot of space in our home, without us knowing it. Paperboard has been a favorite among crafter for it’s low-cost, ability to produce print, its flexibility and ability to give a shape. From colored papers to thick corrugated cardboard box, all come from the trees. This makes paper highly recyclable items and meets today’s sustainable programs. There’s a lot to paperboard and cardboard that meets the eye. I hope you learned something new and will keep updating new topics on cardboard every day.

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