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What is the difference between construction paper and cardstock?

Construction paper and cardstock are two common types of paper used for arts and crafts, school projects, scrapbooking, and more. While they share some similarities, there are key differences between construction paper and cardstock in terms of their materials, thickness, uses, and more.


The main difference between construction paper and cardstock lies in the materials each is made from:

  • Construction paper is typically made from wood pulp or cotton fibers.
  • Cardstock is usually made from thicker cotton fibers or wood pulp mixed with recycled materials.

The varying fiber materials impact the density, durability, and quality of the paper products. Construction paper contains shorter, thinner fibers while cardstock has longer, denser fibers. The longer cotton and wood fibers provide cardstock with increased strength and thickness compared to standard construction paper.


Thickness is another major difference between construction paper and cardstock. Construction paper is thin, flexible, and lightweight. Cardstock is thick, stiff, and more durable.

Here is a comparison of the typical thickness of construction paper vs. cardstock:

Paper Type Thickness Range
Construction Paper 0.006″-0.008″ (60 lb – 90 lb)
Cardstock 0.010″-0.024″ (100 lb – 240 lb)

As shown in the table, construction paper usually ranges from 60 lb to 90 lb in density, while cardstock starts at 100 lb and goes up to 240 lb for very heavy cardstock. The higher pound rating indicates thicker, denser paper.

Common Uses

The thickness and durability differences between construction paper and cardstock make them suitable for different projects:

  • Construction paper is often used for:
    • Art projects
    • Crafts
    • School assignments
    • Banners
    • Backdrops
  • Cardstock is commonly used for:
    • Posters
    • Signs
    • Invitations
    • Greeting cards
    • Boxes
    • Binders
    • Scrapbooking pages

Construction paper is ideal for basic arts and crafts due to its affordable price and availability in a wide range of colors. It folds and curves easily. However, it tears easily when handled roughly.

Cardstock’s extra durability makes it suitable for projects that need more structure and resilience. It provides weight for postcards, signs, decorations, and boxes. The stiffness also makes cardstock ideal for scrapbooking to prevent warping.

Weight & Density

Weight and density are closely related paper traits that also demonstrate the differences between construction paper and cardstock.

Weight refers to the mass of the paper per unit area, measured in pounds per ream (500 sheets). Typical construction paper weights range from 60 lb to 90 lb. Cardstock starts at about 100 lb and goes up to 120 lb, 140 lb, 200 lb, and higher.

Density describes how compacted the paper fibers are. Higher density means the fibers are more tightly packed, creating thicker, heavier paper. Cardstock has higher density than standard construction paper.

The greater density and fiber compaction give cardstock an advantage in:

  • Stiffness
  • Opacity (limits show through)
  • Resilience
  • Ability to hold shape

For projects that need more structure, durability and opacity, cardstock is generally the better choice over standard construction paper.


Construction paper and cardstock also differ in their texture and feel:

  • Construction paper has a relatively smooth, consistent surface on both sides. It can be thin enough to show imperfections in the paper below it.
  • Cardstock has a slightly rougher texture than construction paper, especially on the back side. The higher fiber density limits show through for increased opacity.

Textures range from smooth to lightly textured among different brands of paper. Some cardstock is sold in vellum finishes with more translucent qualities.


Due to the higher quality and thickness, cardstock generally costs more than construction paper. Bulk packs of construction paper can be very affordable, in the $5-$10 range for 100+ sheets. Cardstock is typically sold individually by weight, rather than in bulk packs. Expect to pay:

  • Around $0.20 to $0.40 per sheet for basic 100 lb cardstock
  • $0.40 to $1.00+ per sheet for premium cardstocks over 120 lb density

For large projects, the costs can add up quickly compared to bulk construction paper. However, cardstock’s benefits often make it worth the extra expense for the right applications.

Bleed-Through and Wrinkling

When using markers, paints, or other wet media, construction paper is prone to wrinkling and bleeding through to the other side. The thinness provides no barrier against warping and bleeding.

Cardstock’s density helps limit bleed-through and wrinkling issues for wet media. The stiff backing keeps it relatively smooth and maintains the paper’s shape. So cardstock can handle wet media much better for painting, markers, and mixed media.

Origami & Folding

While both papers can be folded, construction paper has some advantages for origami and other paper folding arts. Key benefits include:

  • Thinness – Allows for sharper creases in folds
  • Flexibility – Easier to fold into intricate shapes
  • Lightness – Puts less stress on folds

Cardstock may be too thick and stiff for complex origami models. For simple folding crafts, children’s projects, and basic origami, construction paper is often the best choice.

Printing & Writing

Construction paper and cardstock have different printing and writing characteristics:

  • Construction paper works adequately for basic printing and writing with crayons or pencils. It tends to pill and shred from erasing. Pens may bleed through the thin paper.
  • Cardstock supports cleaner printing and writing results. Pens, markers, and pencils all write smoothly on cardstock’s tighter surface. It holds up better to erasing as well. Many cardstocks are inkjet printer-friendly.

Cardstock provides a more professional surface for printed projects, invitations, writing stationery, etc. For handwritten notes and coloring, both papers work fine.

Paper Sizes

When purchasing paper, sheet size is another consideration. Construction paper and cardstock come in standard paper sizes:

  • 9″ x 12″
  • 11″ x 14″
  • 12″ x 12″
  • 12″ x 18″

Construction paper packs often include many sizes for variety. Cardstock tends to come in limited sizes, with 12″ x 12″ and 12″ x 18″ being common options.

Gluing & Attachment

Construction paper and cardstock also have varying abilities to hold up to gluing, attaching, and layering:

  • Construction Paper – Glue, tape, and other adhesives may show through construction paper’s thin body. Edges can buckle when attached. For layered projects, wrinkling is likely.
  • Cardstock – The dense structure of cardstock allows it to hold shape better when attached and assembled. Glue and tape bonds tightly. Layers and folded areas remain smoother.

Cardstock’s strength is an advantage for building 3D projects. For flat collages and pictures, construction paper usually works fine.

Storing Paper Supplies

Properly storing paper helps maintain its condition and working properties. Here are some tips:

  • Keep paper flat in a drawer or cabinet. Leaning on edge can curl paper over time.
  • Avoid very humid, damp areas that may warp paper.
  • If paper gets bent, gently bend it back to flatten.
  • Construction paper can be rolled for compact storage. Avoid creasing cardstock.
  • Separate colors/weights to easily find needed paper.


Eco-friendly paper production is important to many consumers today. Construction paper and cardstock range in sustainability features:

  • Some brands use recycled paper content and practice sustainable forestry for raw materials.
  • Paper made from alternative fibers like cotton, bamboo, hemp, etc. is available.
  • Chlorine-free and acid-free papers keep production chemically safe.
  • Look for certifications like FSC, Green Seal, or EcoLogo.

Check manufacturer information to find construction paper and cardstock options aligned with your environmental priorities.


While construction paper and cardstock share some traits, they differ significantly in thickness, durability, uses, and other properties. Construction paper is affordable, easy to fold, and suitable for basic projects. When more structure and resilience is needed, cardstock is the better choice but at a higher cost. Knowing the unique characteristics of each paper helps you select the right one for your arts, crafts, printing, and papercrafting needs.