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Zazzle Poster Paper Comparison & Review
Paper quality is a hard thing to judge when you're ordering a poster online. Zazzle offers several different paper types for their printing, and since all of my (de)Signsby Andrea posters can be printed on any of those options, I thought it would be helpful to my customers to do a review and comparison to help distinguish between the characteristics of each style.
To give a fair comparison, I ordered the same 8" x 10" Twinkle Twinkle Little Star poster in all five paper types.
Below I've listed each paper type, along with Zazzle's description and my own review. The $ after each title indicates where that paper type falls on the pricing scale.
Value Cardstock Paper (Matte) - $
Available for prints 11x16 or smaller, Value Cardstock Paper is the perfect balanced white paper with a matte coating. For small posters, Value Cardstock Paper will create a beautiful poster with vivid colors and 90 brightness.
The Value Cardstock Paper is by far my favorite option for printing smaller posters. It's the cheapest option and offers the the thickest paper stock which makes it very sturdy and durable. The matte finish has just a very slight sheen to it, so that glare is minimized. I've found that it looks gorgeus under glass in a frame, and since the cardstock doesn't curl or wrinkle easily, this paper style also work well un-framed on a hanging clipboard or bulletin board.
There are two disadvantages to this print option. First, unfortunately, it's only available up to 11" x 16" prints, so if you go big, you'll have to choose a different paper style. And second, with frequent handling or if left in sunlight, it will fade and/or scratch fairly easily.
Value Poster Paper (Matte) - $$
For low-cost, long-lived posters, select Zazzle’s Value Poster Paper. This very white paper creates vibrant art and photo reproductions.
They say it is "matte" finish, but I disagree. This poster paper option appears to have an even more glossy finish than the "Poster Paper Semi-Gloss" version I had printed. So if you're looking for a duller finish, I'd upgrade to the semi-gloss version instead of this one. If the sheen doesn't matter, then this is a fantastic and inexpensive print option for posters at any size. The printed design is crisp, clear and on heavy-weight paper.
Poster Paper (Semi-Gloss) - $$$
Print it, mount it, laminate it, post it. For a great wall decorating solution, choose our poster paper. Great for printing large-format posters, this bright semi-gloss paper makes brilliant, colorful images look crisp and smooth without a putting a dent in your pocket.
In my comparison, I found the print quality and sheen to be nearly identical between the Value Cardstock Paper and this Semi-Gloss Poster Paper. The poster paper is on thinner paper stock, and that seems to be the only difference of note. Since the cardstock paper isn't available for print sizes larger than 11" x 16", that makes this Semi-Gloss Poster Paper my first choice for larger prints. Compared to the Value Poster Paper (Matte) version, it is slightly less glossy and on slightly thinner paper, but the print quality and colors are superb.
Archival Heavyweight Paper (Matte) - $$$$
With a smooth matte surface, our archival heavyweight matte paper is designed for displaying highly saturated images without sacrificing print quality. Great for professional photographers and graphic artists on a budget, archival heavyweight matte paper delivers superior quality at a lower cost. Prints on archival heavyweight matte paper are fade-resistant and have a 90+ year archival rating.
Ironically, though this is a more expensive printing option and promises a long life without fading, I was most unimpressed with the Archival Heavyweight Paper. It has the truest "matte" finish of all the printing options with almost no sheen at all. The paper is slightly thicker than the Semi-Gloss Poster Paper, but not as thick as the cardstock paper, and tends toward curling if not in a frame.
I would be most interested in spending a little more for the archival longevity of this paper style if I knew the artwork would be highly exposed to sunlight or would be a family heirloom that needed to stand the test of time (such as for my Special Dates Artwork or Personalized Growth Charts), but otherwise would not likely make the extra investment for this paper type based on looks alone.
Premium Canvas (Matte) - $$$$$
Zazzle's gloss canvas is made from an additive-free cotton-poly blend and features a special ink-receptive coating that protects the printed surface from cracking when stretched. Made with a tight weave ideal for any photography or fine art, our instant-dry gloss canvas produces prints that are fade-resistant for 100+ years.
By far the Premium Canvas is the thickest and most luxurious "paper" type available and (to me) is a much more desireable option for the archival longevity solution of more valuable pieces of artwork. The design is printed on real heavy-duty canvas, so you can see and feel the texture of the canvas weave, which I love. The design printed crisply and looks very sharp. Though it lists this medium as Matte finish in the options, the description says it is a gloss finish, which is definitely a more accurate description.
Make note that when you choose the Premium Canvas option as an upgrade for a poster, it is a paper quality choice, not a framing decision. The canvas paper version of the posters arrive flat and true-to size, so wrapping the canvas yourself is not an option. A frame (with or without glass) would be your best choice for displaying this type of print. If you prefer a wrapped canvas, which I have reviewed here, you would need to order a product specifically designed for a wrapped canvas.
To wrap it all up, here are my recommendations:
- For prints 11" x 16" or smaller, I'd go with the Value Cardstock (Matte) Paper for a durable and inexpensive option.
- Printing larger than 11" x 16"? I'd choose the Poster Paper Semi-Gloss for a bright, not-too-glossy, crisp print.
- If you need to prevent fading and make it last the test of time, then I'd splurge for the Archival Heavyweight Matte paper.
- If you are looking for added texture, fade-resistance and long-term durability, then the Premium Canvas is a beautiful choice.
Here's a quick video to give a more three-dimensional idea of the differences between each of the paper styles:
And there you have it -- a look at all the poster printing options Zazzle has to offer. Hopefully, this review will help make your printing choices simple when ordering posters and prints from Zazzle.
Be sure to check out more of my (de)Signs posters and canvases while you're browsing! :)