Matte Photo Paper vs. Cardstock: Which is Better?

Matte Photo Paper vs. Cardstock: Which is Better?

If you’re looking for a printing material that will give your photos a unique and professional look, then you may be wondering whether to choose matte photo paper or cardstock. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it can be difficult to decide which is the best option for you. In this article, we will take a closer look at both matte photo paper and cardstock, and we’ll help you decide which one is the best fit for your needs.

What Is A Photo Print?

A photo print is an image printed onto paper or a similar substrate.

It can be in black and white or color, glossy or matte finish. Many different types of media are available for printing photos — from traditional photographic paper to cardstock and other substrates.

What Is A Photo Print?

What Is Matte Photo Paper?

Matte photo paper is a specific type of photographic paper, usually with a very light texture that provides a more muted look than glossy prints do.

The coating applied to this type of paper does not reflect as much light as glossy finishes do, resulting in softer colors and less contrast between highlights and shadows. This makes it ideal for creating subtle and gentle prints with fine details showing up clearly. More importantly, however, matte papers resist fingerprints and smudging better than their glossier counterparts.

What Is Cardstock?

Cardstock is a type of paper used for making greeting cards, postcards, business cards, brochures, signs and posters.

It is thicker than regular printing paper but not as thick as cardboard. The weight of cardstock can range from 70-150 gsm (grams per square meter), depending on the type of cardstock being used. It is usually white or off-white in color and has a smooth surface with no sheen or luster.

What Is A Photo Print?

How To Choose Photo Paper Finishes

The finish of the paper is just as important as the type of paper when deciding between matte photo paper and cardstock. The matte finish gives a classic, timeless look to printed photos and documents, while glossy finishes provide vibrant colors and sharp details that stand out from the background.

Glossy finishes are often more expensive than matte finishes because they require special formulations of inks and coatings to achieve the desired effect. This means that glossy cards may cost more in terms of materials, but they also tend to have a longer lifespan due to their protective coating. If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, then matte finishes may be your best option.

In addition to choosing between glossy or matte finishes, pay attention to the type of weight your paper has. Heavier paper is generally more durable and will last longer than lighter options, regardless of finish.

Comparing Matte Photo Paper vs. Cardstock

When it comes to comparing matte photo paper versus cardstock, both materials have unique advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into consideration before making a decision.

Cardstock is thicker than traditional printing papers, making it an ideal choice for heavier applications such as postcards or business cards. It tends to offer a higher quality look and feel when compared to standard printing papers, but can also be more expensive due to its thicker construction.

On the other hand, matte photo paper is designed specifically for use with photographs or artwork printed on inkjet printers. Its semi-gloss finish produces vivid colors and excellent resolution, making it a great choice for high-quality prints. It’s also more cost-effective than cardstock and other traditional printing papers when buying in bulk.

Comparing Matte Photo Paper vs. Cardstock

Pros of Matte Photo Paper

  • Cheaper than cardstock when buying in bulk
  • Semi-gloss finish provides vivid colors and excellent resolution
  • Perfect for photos or artwork printed on inkjet printers

Pros of Cardstock

  • Thicker construction gives a higher quality look and feel
  • Great for postcards, business cards, or booklets with heavier applications

Cons of Matte Photo Paper

  • Not as durable as cardstock due to its thinner construction

Cons of Cardstock

  • More expensive than traditional printing paper
  • Not as vibrant or sharp as glossy finishes

Which Finish is Better for Your Prints?

When deciding between matte photo paper and cardstock, it’s important to consider the finish of each. Generally speaking, matte photo paper has a softer, more subtle finish than cardstock, which can have a shiny or metallic look. The matte paper also has less of glare when you view your printed photos from different angles. This makes it ideal for use in a variety of projects such as posters and large prints that will be displayed in bright areas like galleries or conference rooms. Cardstock is better suited for smaller prints that don’t need to be viewed from multiple angles—things like business cards and invitations are great examples.

Business Cards, Postcards, and Invitations

When it comes to business cards, postcards, and invitations, cardstock is the better option. Its sturdy finish makes it more durable than matte photo paper, which may smudge or tear over time. Cardstock makes a great choice for these types of prints because it is thicker and sturdier than photo paper. With many colors and finishes available for cardstock, you can create one-of-a-kind designs that will catch anyone’s eye.


For projects like brochures and magazines, matte paper is the better choice. Its smooth finish makes it more aesthetically pleasing than cardstock, so your designs will look great on the page. Since photo paper is able to hold more ink than cardstock, you can be certain that your images will turn out looking clear and lifelike.

Flyers and Posters

When it comes to projects like flyers and posters, matte photo paper is a perfect choice. Its soft finish will help ensure that your images don’t look too harsh or saturated on the page.

Which Finish is Better for Your Prints?

Art Prints

When it comes to art prints, matte photo paper is the best choice. Its smooth finish and vibrant colors will help ensure that your images come out looking sharp and true to life. With its superior durability and vivid colors, matte paper is the ideal choice for any art print project.

Photo Prints

For photo prints, matte photo paper is the superior choice. Its soft finish ensures that your images won’t look too bright or saturated when printed. Furthermore, you can be positive that all your pictures will look lively and realistic since it can hold more ink than cardstock.

It can be tough to pick between matte photo paper and cardstock; it all comes down to what printing project you’re attempting. Keep these tips in mind when making your choice so that you can get the best possible results for all of your projects.

Booklets and Catalogs

For projects like booklets and catalogs, matte photo paper is the better option. It’s sleek finish of will make your work look more professional and attractive. Additionally, since photo paper has a higher ink capacity than cardstock, you can be sure that all of your images will come out looking vibrant and true to life. Lastly, since it is thinner than cardstock, you can be sure that your prints are light enough to distribute quickly and easily.


When it comes to stationery, cardstock is the better option. Because of its tough surface, it is more reliable than matte types, which may get stained or ripped with extended use. With cardstock’s wide range of available colors and finishes, you can craft one-of-a-kind designs that will make your projects pop. [1]

There are several factors to consider such as the size of the project, the types of finishes available, and the overall clarity of the image. Depending on what type of print job you’re attempting, one may be better suited for your needs than the other. Keep these tips in mind when making your decision so that you can get the best possible prints for all of your projects.


What is the difference between matte photo paper and cardstock?

Matte photo paper and cardstock are both materials used for printing. Matte photo paper is a smooth, non-glossy material that is often used for professional photography prints. Cardstock, on the other hand, is thicker and has a more textured finish. It’s generally used for art projects or business cards and stationery items like letterheads and postcards. [2]

Is cardstock good for photos?

When it comes to printing photos, cardstock is not the best option. This is because cardstock will not produce the same quality image as matte paper. Cardstock tends to be less heavy and glossy than photo paper, and can cause images to appear grainy or blurry in comparison. Additionally, cardstock is often prone to smudging due to its absorbent nature, which could ruin a photo print project if caution isn’t taken. Matte paper is designed specifically for photo prints and therefore produces much better results when compared to cardstock. [3]

What is matte photo paper best for?

Matte photo paper is an excellent choice for printing high-quality photos with a subtle, elegant finish. It’s great for creating prints that will stand the test of time and look beautiful even years later. If you’re looking to add a little bit of extra touch to your photos or artwork, matte photo paper can be a perfect choice. Matte paper delivers sharp details and vibrant colors while absorbing any glare from lighting. The lack of gloss helps to mute harsh shadows and highlights, making it ideal for portraits or detailed images that don’t require bright white backgrounds. [4]

Which paper type is best for photo printing?

Matte photo paper and cardstock are both popular choices for printing photos. However, there are crucial distinctions between them that can help you determine which one is the most suitable option for your project. Matte paper is the best choice if you’re looking for a professional-looking finish that won’t smudge or fade over time. On the other hand, cardstock is better suited for art projects or stationery designs that require a thicker and more textured finish. Ultimately, you should consider your project’s purpose before making a final decision.

Useful Video: Which Paper is Best for Photo Prints?


When it comes to cardstock vs. matte photo paper, there is no single answer as to which material is better for your printing project. While the choice ultimately depends on the type of project you are working on and your own personal preferences, each material has its advantages and disadvantages. Cardstock is a great option for cards and other heavy-duty projects due to its strength and durability. Matte photo paper provides excellent image quality with vivid colors that really pop.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a cost-effective solution that won’t sacrifice quality or longevity, then either cardstock or matte photo paper can be a great option depending on the project at hand. Do some research beforehand and choose the right material for your needs to ensure you get the best possible print results. Good luck!