Photo Paper vs. Art Paper: Which Print Paper Type to Choose

Here at Frame It Easy we have always believed that by using premium, quality materials and state-of-the-art equipment we are able to provide you with not just a beautiful looking frame, but one that will retain its beauty for years to come.  And making sure what you want to display inside that frame has a lasting visual impact is just as important. We’d like to introduce you to our two print paper types and why you might choose each for your next framing project!

Art Paper vs. Photo Paper

Paper Types for Printing

In Step One of our Frame Designer — after you have entered your art dimensions — you can then choose Print my photo/artwork and simply upload your digital file. When your upload is complete you will then be given the choice of having us print on Photo Paper or Art Paper.

Art Paper vs. Photo Paper
Left: Photo Paper | Right: Art Paper

While we’ll explain the differences between the two below, rest assured that no matter which paper you choose, our print lab will use top-of-the-line, large format printers using archival-grade ink and acid-free paper. Both paper types will produce a great looking print!

Photo Paper

Photo Paper Prints
Photo Paper

Our Photo Paper is a semi-matte, bright white paper with a slight gloss/luster to it. It has a smooth surface and subtle sheen that will bring a brightness and richness to prints.

Photo paper is perfect for photographs and text-heavy images, as well as most general, all-purpose uses.

Photo on Photo Paper
Photo Paper with Non-Glare Acrylic Cover

When viewed in direct light you can notice the luster/sheen on the Photo Paper, but don’t be scared — it is not a high gloss and will not affect viewing clarity once added into a frame.

Art Paper

Art Paper Prints
Art Paper

Our Art Paper is a cotton, natural white paper that is matte — it has no gloss or luster to it. It has the slightest warmth and a semi-smooth surface that will bring elegance and nuance to prints.

Art Paper is best for artwork reproductions and/or digital graphics.

Botanical Print on Art Paper with Non-Glare Acrylic
Art Paper with Non-Glare Acrylic Cover

Our Art Paper also contains no optical brighteners (OBAs) which are often added to paper to make it appear “whiter” to the eye. These brighteners work by absorbing UV light and re-emitting it in the blue region. Unfortunately, OBAs can break down over time allowing what is commonly called “yellowing” to occur, so you never have to worry about discoloring over time.

Made using refined, 100% cotton fiber (for our customers with specific technical requirements, both ISO 9706 and ANSI Z 39.48-1992 certified!) to discerning eyes its semi-smooth nature makes a subtle difference in your artwork.

P.S. Art paper looks especially nice with a Non-Glare Acrylic Cover (no matting) to showcase textural detail.

Print Quality

framed art
Left: Photo Paper | Right: Art Paper
(Both with Non-Glare Acrylic Cover)

As we mentioned, no matter which paper you choose, you are sure to get a quality print (as long as your uploaded image is of a high enough resolution!)

For our technical customers, we print at up to 1200×1200 DPI and stay as true to your uploaded file as possible — we never resample or perform destructive edits to your image, and we maintain the exact profile and colorspace embedded within your file and never remove it or add our own.

For more on prints and printing in general, be sure to check out How to Format Photos for Online Framing and Matting.

Choosing Art Paper vs. Photo Paper

Art Paper and Photo Paper
Left: Photo Paper | Right: Art Paper

If both papers are a great choice, how do you choose which is best for your frame?

While it ultimately comes down to personal preference, as a very basic rule you’ll generally want to choose Photo Paper if you have a photograph and choose Art Paper if you have a digital art reproduction (painting, illustration, etc.).

Art Paper vs. Photo Paper
Left: Photo Paper | Right: Art Paper
(Both angled in direct sunlight to show the difference in sheen)

The main optical differences between the two paper types are A) Art Paper is completely matte whereas Photo Paper has a sheen to it and B) Art Paper has a very subtle warmth to its base natural white coloring, meaning your print will overall take on a warmer tone. (The warmth is subtle, but still worth noting.)

Art Paper vs. Photo Paper
Left: Art Paper | Right: Photo Paper
(Both with Matting and Clear Acrylic Cover)

Photo Paper is also slightly more affordable, though the price increase for Art Paper is not very significant. (For example, changing an 11″x14″ print from Photo Paper to Art paper results in less than $1.00 difference.)

Print Perfect

Framed Art and Photo Prints

Whichever paper you choose, we are sure when you see the quality of your uploaded photographs, artwork, and images, you will be a repeat customer of Frame It Easy for years to come. Different works and styles may require different paper types, so feel free to experiment and try new things to see what you prefer best.

To sum up a few of the key differences in paper types, check out this handy chart:

Photo Paper vs. Art Paper: Key Differences

Photo PaperArt Paper
FinishSemi-Matte with slight gloss/luster/sheenCompletely Matte
TextureSmoothSemi-Smooth
Color/ToneBright WhiteNatural White (Has a hint of warmth)
Best ForPhotographs, text-heavy designsArt reproductions (paintings, illustrations, digital art)
CostMost affordableSlightly more expensive (but not significantly so)

And to see some additional examples/comparisons, check out this video:

P.S. Don’t forget to send us pictures once you receive your brand new framed prints — we can’t wait to see!

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